A pas­sion for pomp and cer­e­mony

When they cel­e­brated, the Vic­to­ri­ans re­ally pushed the boat out says Don­ald Stan­ley. Here’s how they did it in one Bucks town

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - PEOPLEANDPLACES -

BEA­CONS­FIELD was no ex­cep­tion to the Vic­to­rian love of pageantry whether on a march of school­child­ren on their way to an an­nual ‘treat’, cel­e­brat­ing an heir suc­ceed­ing to a great es­tate, or a na­tional oc­ca­sion.

When, in 1896, the chil­dren’s an­nual ‘treat’ was held in Wil­ton Park, 350 went in pro­ces­sion un­der a banner from their schools in Wind­sor End for games and tea fol­lowed by sports.

The same year, Wil­liam Bar­ing Du Pre had come of age and suc­ceeded his late un­cle, Cale­don George Du Pre, to the Wil­ton Park Es­tate.

The coun­cil dec­o­rated the town with bunt­ing and tri­umphal arches.

Du Pre, who was ac­com­pa­nied by his wid­owed mother and two sis­ters, was greeted by a re­cep­tion com­mit­tee, the horses un­hitched from their coach which was then hauled to the man­sion by sons of ten­ant farm­ers of the es­tate, and a salute fired from ‘some small ord­nance’.

This was fol­lowed by lun­cheon, pre­sen­ta­tions by his new ten­ants, and toasts by the rec­tor and Gen­eral Gren­fell. His mother and sis­ters re­joined the company to watch ‘a num­ber of sports and old English games’. There was danc­ing, a huge bon­fire, fire­works, and the town was il­lu­mi­nated.

Although Du Pre was a serv­ing of­fi­cer on leave, his new po­si­tion brought other du­ties to per­form be­fore he was re­called to his reg­i­ment. Th­ese ranged from deal­ing with a mur­der as a Jus­tice of the Peace, to chair­ing a lec­ture on X-rays by the land­lord of the White Hart.

Sub­se­quently he took part in the Boer War, dur­ing which he was taken pris­oner, and the Great War.

He be­came MP for High Wy­combe, High Sher­iff and Deputy Lieu­tenant of the county, and a Lieu­tenant Colonel.

When the young rec­tor brought his Scot­tish bride to the town the fol­low­ing year, their horses too were taken out of the shafts and the coach hauled by bell-ringers and mem­bers of the choir to the rec­tory, the en­trance to which was strewn with flow­ers by the school­child­ren.

Queen Vic­to­ria’s di­a­mond ju­bilee in 1897 was also marked in ap­pro­pri­ate style.

There was a din­ner for the poor, tea and sports for chil­dren, danc­ing, games and ‘a great bon­fire in Hol­loway’s Park and rock­ets let off’.

To cap it all, the town was cho­sen to host 130 men of the Royal Bucks Hus­sars be­fore they es­corted the Queen to Wind­sor Cas­tle, wit­nessed by some of the school­child­ren.

Wil­liam Bar­ing du Pre’s ar­rival in Bea­cons­field to take up his fam­ily in­her­i­tance and mano­rial seat at Wil­ton Park was the rea­son for a hearty cel­e­bra­tion in the town. In­set, the en­trance to Wil­ton Hall was suit­ably dec­o­rated to wel­come home the new owner of the es­tate

The highly or­nate invitation to wel­come home Wil­liam Du Pre, pic­tured right, was in­dica­tive of the kind of cel­e­bra­tion that was staged

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