Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Celebrations in Rainham

As Queen Victoria sat in her open carriage drawn by eight white ponies making the journey from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey for a full state thanksgiving service and cheered on by thousands of her flag waving subjects, towns and villages across the country had their own celebrations to mark the event on June 21st 1887.

The East Kent Gazette reported that on a fine sunny day in Rainham, early morning peels rang out from St Margaret’s church bells and at intervals for the remainder of the day to signify the big event. The people of Rainham had raised £50 to fund the celebration with decorations and activities and had formed a committee to organise it.

Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Celebrations in Rainham

Flags and banners decorated the centre of Rainham drowning it in a sea of red, blue and white. Flags from the barges Agremont, Virginia and Director suspended by lines fluttered above the main road at the western end of Rainham. At the Cricketers pub landlord Samuel Jarrett exhibited a line of flags and transparencies of the Queen, the Prince of Wales’s plume and a representation of the crown. At the vicarage a bit further along the High Street a group of flags with the words ‘God Save the Queen’ on a crimson background and a transparency of the Prince of Wales’s plume of feathers were displayed.

A line of flags spanned the High Street from the Lion Hotel and also in the windows of nearby buildings. A banner with the words ‘The Queen, God Bless Her’ stretched across the street from George Quinnell’s grocery shop in Broad Walk and George Whayman’s drapery shop displayed a banner with the words ‘God Save the Queen, Long May She Reign.’ Frank Frost’s grocery shop displayed a portrait of the Queen wreathed in flowers while Men’s outfitter Edwin Jelly displayed a banner with the words ‘Long to Reign Over Us, God Save the Queen’ on a crimson background. At ‘The Chestnuts,’ a house owned by local preacher and businessman Thomas Stanley Wakeley, the colours of the barge ‘Richmond’ surmounted the building accompanied by a transparency of the crown surrounded by flags. At Mardale House, the home of Doctor Penfold, a transparency of the Royal Arms surrounded by a portrait of Queen Victoria decorated the building while a line of flags spanned the road.

At the White Horse Inn on the corner of the High Street and Station Road publican Alf Fiske had the building covered in English and French flags with beautiful floral decorations at the windows. He also had illuminated transparencies of Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales’s plume and an image of the crown displayed for viewing at night. This contributed to making the decorations for the event in Rainham very colourful and highly impressive.

At 12-30 pm proceedings began when Rainham children assembled at the National School in Station Road with their teachers. Dressed in holiday clothes most wore or carried flowers and were led to the church. Followed by senior citizens they entered the building that was soon crammed with parishioners. With the Rainham Brass Band led by conductor Mr W Hunt positioned inside the church, the service taken by Reverend Charles Cobb commemorated Queen Victoria’s fifty year reign. Organist John Longley played a jubilee march followed by hymns sung by the choir and congregation. The service concluded with the singing of the National Anthem.

Crowds of people waited outside the church and lined the High Street. Amongst these the local branch of the Druids attired in costumes and holding banners sat on horseback while the Foresters with regalia were lined up with them ready for a procession. Once in order the procession moved down the High Street led by the infants, then the girls followed by the boys, next by the Druids and Foresters. Most of the children carried flags and banners. The girls carried a large silk banner with an image of the English crown.

With over 1,000 people taking part the procession headed towards Berengrove Park which had been lent for the occasion by the owner J. A. Walter. Swings had been erected in the park and amusements provided. Free dinners consisting of roast beef, mutton and plum pudding were provided for all parishioners over 55 years old and tables were placed under a row of trees at the bottom end of the park for this. After the old people had taken their places Reverend Cobb gave thanks and proposed a toast to the Queen. The playing of a verse from the National Anthem and cheers followed then the dinners were eaten. Immediately after this preparations were made to feed the children but only those who wore a jubilee medal that had earlier been presented to every individual by Dr Penfold were allowed to have a meal.

An estimated 2,000 people attended the event in Berengrove Park which included dancing and music. St Paul’s Fife and Drum Band from Chatham arrived in the afternoon and played some rousing, lively pieces. A display of colourful fireworks at dusk brought the event to a close. A huge bonfire was also lit on White Hill and could be seen for miles around.

The celebration turned out to be a great success for the village and the biggest event witnessed by residents for many years as they settled down to a further fourteen years of Queen Victoria’s reign.


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