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Reflections of jubilee celebrations in the past

Town Hall dressed for Jubilee

The 1898 Frome Almanac gives us a wonderful insight into the events that took place in our town to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in the previous year. 125 years on swept up in the current commemorations and celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee it is interesting to note the similarities in planning and events taking place.

Frome Urban District Council first met on the 19th January 1897 and decided to convene a public meeting to consider the local celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. After reports from various sub-committees the Jubilee Commemoration Committee-meeting decided to recommend the adoption of a combined scheme, for Baths and a New Hospital, to a public meeting, to be convened at an early date. On the 7th May, at the Mechanics’ Hall the public duly voted to adopt this combined scheme. Following the procession and fete that took place on the Jubilee Day itself  – a description of which is to follow – it was reported that a meeting convened on the 7th September that subscriptions promised for the new baths and hospital scheme came to over £1700 and committees were appointed to consider sites. These as we know were Park Road for the hospital (now the Avanti Scholl) and Rook Lane for the baths (now demolished).  

Now for a description of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Day on the 22nd June, as it appears in the Almanac:

The local celebration was most successful consisting of: – (1) The planting of an oak sapling in the Recreation-ground; (2) the singing of the National Anthem and the Old Hundredth Psalm in the Market Place; (3) the Procession, which included the Yeomanry, Rifle Corps, Rifle Corps, Magistracy, Urban, District and Selwood Parish Councils, Clergy and Ministers, Fire Brigade, Post Office employees, the local Friendly Societies, representations of the principal Manufactures and Trades of the town, Boys’ Brigade, and Public Elementary Schools, with numerous banners and bands; and (4) the fete in Vallis Leaze, the amusements at which terminated with a display of fireworks and an immense bonfire. A bountiful tea was provided for the school children and over 300 poor people received tickets (2.s 6.d each person), which represented cash in purchases at any local shops. The town was elaborately decorated with flags, mottoes and evergreens, and on the following evening there was an extensive illumination of the houses. 

In Frome we will be celebrating the Diamond Jubilee with a Community Picnic at the Old Showfield with music, fun and games to which all in the town are invited. There will also be the unveiling of the Jubilee Stones at the entrance to the blossom circle and the planting of a heritage oak from Windsor Great Park. This came about after Frome Town Council asked for suggestions for what we could do as a town to commemorate the jubilee and the top three ideas went to a public vote. Coming full circle this is not so different from how Frome Urban District Council went about plans for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897! 

Sue Bucklow

Curator and Photo Historian

June 2022. 

To read about what Frome’s school children were thinking about in 1977 go to: https://www.discoverfrome.co.uk/jubilee-throwback/

or you can listen to Sue on this weeks All about Frome on Frome FM to hear more on Saturday at 1pm or Monday at 11pm.

2 June 2022
Last Updated
7 June 2022
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