Ely High School 1905-1972 : The Coronation of Elizabeth II, 1953

July 1953

Dear Girls, and Old Girls,

The year has been marked by three great events, one of sorrow and hardship, one of great achievement, and the other of nationwide rejoicing and thanksgiving. In January last, much of the coast of East Anglia was devastated by tempest and flood; lives were lost, homes destroyed and great havoc done to the land. We in Ely, felt that this came so near to us that we were impelled to do whatever possible lay in us to give help to those who had suffered, and lost so much. The School immediately collected clothing for the WVS and then went on to try and raise 100 for the Lord Mayor's Flood and Tempest Relief Fund. Although we did not quite reach the target, we were able to contribute 83, as a result of varied activities and efforts throughout the School. The spirit of service and concern for others which was so manifest at this time was perhaps the most precious thing of all.

Everest has been climbed, and that by an Englishman, who shares the honour with a Sherpa companion. Another great achievement which for long seemed impossible has been added to the history of mankind. Let us be inspired by this to be spurred to great endeavour, to work with others, and to share with them the praise; to aim always for the highest, although the way may seem impossible until we try.

The Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second has filled all our hearts and thoughts with pride and gladness. We know what it means to the Nation and Commonwealth, and even to each individual subject, to have a young and beautiful Queen, who has already dedicated herself to her great task with a radiant happiness. Queen Elizabeth is an inspiration to each one of us when we think of the meaning of the solemn service of the anointing, the crowning with the crown of righteousness, of her dedication to unselfed service to her nation.

On the day of the Coronation heavy rain fell, but we who have seen the film, "A Queen is Crowned," know that this rain brought an added beauty to the great procession of troops, cavalry, battalions of forces from home and overseas, to the guards, the beefeaters and the Queen's bargemen, to the postillions, the Windsor greys, and the gilded coach itself, in which the Queen showed herself to the people after her coronation. The rain had laid a shining floor for the great procession in which all the splendour of scarlet, gold and white, prancing horses, waving plumes were perfectly reflected.

This gives us all food for thought, for what seemed to be a misfortune served, in the end, to increase the beauty of the scene. With the crowning of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, has been ushered in a new age. Already the spirit of the former Elizabethan age wakens in our hearts, an age of greatness, of "Christian service and true chivalry."
Yours affectionately, BERTHA TILLY.

Coronation Decorations in School.

Each form was invited to decorate its form-room so as to illustrate a special aspect of the Coronation, or some relevant subject.

The Lower Thirds' subject was 'The Life of the Queen,' and all three forms took great interest in gathering and arranging photographs of Her Majesty at all ages.

The Upper Thirds, whose subject was 'The Royal Family,' also mainly used photographs, for the arrangement of which the wider scope of their subject, and, in two cases, the difficult nature of their rooms, gave opportunity for thought and ingenuity.

Lower IV. A. and Remove dealt with the Regalia, and collected a good deal of interesting material.

Lower IV. Alpha dealt with Ships; they explored the subject thoroughly, collected a large amount of material, and arranged it so as to give an interesting, ordered, - and nautical atmosphere to, a large and difficult room.

Upper IV. Remove and Alpha made pleasing effects with Queens of England, and Residences of the Royal Family respectively, while Upper IV. A., with the difficult subject Heraldry, produced good individual work in painting, lettering and modelling; and, by restraint and careful planning, managed to arrange their exhibits effectively in a small room of irregular shape.

Form V. Remove, whose form-room is the Domestic Science Room, had little wall space to use, and few girls to use it, but made an effective display of Flags of the Commonwealth.

Form V. A., dealing with The Ceremony, offered a gay and effective room, while Form V. Alpha, who studied the Regiments in the Procession, besides offering evidence of detailed study, by their use of colour in a careful arrangement of a large amount of material, admirably suggested their subject.

The Upper and Lower Sixth offered photographs and models effectively displayed of Buildings along the Route.

Mrs Bamborough (Miss Mahoney) who judged the Competition awarded prizes as follows:-
First, Lower IV. Alpha; Second, Upper IV. A.; Third, V. Alpha, and commended Lower III. Alpha, Upper IV. Alpha, and V. Remove. At the end of a comprehensive and detailed written criticism Mrs Bamborough said, "There was a great deal more that deserved praise .... It was easy to see that a. lot of hard work had been spent in every room, and I enjoyed seeing the results very much." We are most grateful to her for giving her time to come and judge with such care and thoroughness, and we much enjoyed seeing her again.

The outside of the school, decorated with bunting and the four House Shields, surmounted by a Shield specially designed and painted by Miss Surgey, presented to the city a dignified front and one very much in keeping with the other decorations.


Ely. Celebrations began with the service at 9.30 a.m. in the Cathedral, which was attended by a large congregation. At 3 p.m. there was a procession of decorated lorries and colourful tableaux,, one of the most successful for many years. It started from Barton Green and wound its way through streets lined with enthusiastic people until it reached Paradise Field. Tea and Children's Sports followed, as the rain had then stopped. After the Sports the Soham Comrades' Band gave a Concert on the Palace Green until 9 o'clock. At 10 o'clock there was a Torchlight Procession, headed by this Band and a lorry carrying Britannia, from Paradise Field to the Park. From 11 o'clock till midnight there were fireworks of many kinds ending with a wonderful set-piece showing "E.R.II"

During the week the Women's Institute gave a Party for the children of members, a Beetle Drive, and a Dance. To end the week of enjoyment they held their "Elizabethan Revelry," - a Pageant - in the grounds of the Bishop's Palace, in which many groups of school children took part. It was a great success, and a fine ending to the Celebrations.

Burnt Fen. We began our celebrations at 2 p.m. with a Fancy Dress Parade for children and adults in the Women's Institute. Among the many entries several had some connection with the Queen at the Coronation. Next we had Community Singing and a few games and at 4.30 tea in a large drying shed. There were ham and tongue salads for the adults, and sandwiches for the children. Cheers and thanks to the people who had made the celebrations a success followed, and then the Chairman proposed a toast to the Queen. As the children left they were presented with a souvenir cup, saucer and plate; a quarter of a pound of sweets; and one shilling.

At 6.30 p.m. there was a Punch and Judy Show. For the rest of the evening everyone was entertained by a Concert party from Cambridge. We ended the celebrations by singing the National Anthem.

Chippenham. Our celebrations began on Tuesday afternoon with a service held in a large marquee, followed by sports in the same marquee. A free tea was provided in the Village Hall for children and adults, followed by entertainment by a conjuror which was much enjoyed. The evening was rounded off by a social evening with free refreshments and beer. So much food was left over that it was decided to continue the Social the following evening. Although some events had to be cancelled owing to the weather everybody agreed that they had thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Chittering. I woke early on Coronation morning to find the weather still disappointing. However since nothing could alter it, everybody determined that Coronation day should still be a memorable occasion. First we held a short service in the Chapel to pray for our Queen as she had asked us to do. Then, while our mothers prepared a high tea for everybody, we children went to the day school for games.

After lunch there was a children's Fancy Dress Parade in which all who entered,whether wearing pretty or funny costumes, received a First Prize. In between the showers we then ran races along the road beside the school as we could not use the field, decorated with flags and bunting, as it was too wet underfoot. After a grand tea, which included jellies and ice-cream, there was an amusing Grown-Ups' Fancy Dress Parade, followed by games and fun, after which we all heard together the Queen's broadcast, and joined in singing the National Anthem.

Fordham. On Coronation Day the residents at the Grove, the Old Folks' Home, entertained many members of the Over Sixties' Club to tea, music and games. On the evening of June 2nd, a successful dance was held in the Victoria Hall, during which there was a Fancy Dress Parade. On the following Saturday the day's celebrations began with a Children's Fancy Dress Parade, followed by Sports. A tea-party was given to which were invited all children of fifteen years of age and under, who all received Coronation mugs. Adult Sports, and a Beauty Contest for men followed and later there was a Grand Carnival Dance. Two other parties for children were held during the week, one ending with a good display of fireworks, the other with an amusing race for fathers riding children's tricycles.

Haddenham. The celebrations began at 2 p.m., with a short service held in the Recreation Ground and conducted by the Vicar. This was followed by many sporting events in which people of all ages joined. Teas were served in two sessions. After this, the rain intervened, and the lighting of a large bonfire, and the firework display were postponed until Saturday. The memorable day ended with a dance in the Church Hall. All the children were presented with a Coronation book, and a five shilling piece. Many houses competed for prizes for decorations, and the village even exhibited quite a few illuminations.

Hillrow. The celebrations began with a service conducted by the Rev F Samuels, BA. This was followed by a Fancy Dress Parade in three classes. Teas, which were served in The Garage, consisted of ham, jellies, blancmanges and cakes for all. After the teas, souvenir cups were presented to all children under fifteen by Mrs P Mason, of London, and every child was given two tickets, for free ices. As the rain had ceased a few races were run, but the Sports Committee decided that the remainder of the races and the firework display should be postponed until Saturday.

Isleham. Last October the inhabitants of this village were proud to open a delightful Village Hall which they had built in the lovely Recreation Ground, and it was here that most of the Coronation celebrations were held owing to the inclement weather. The activities began with a United Service in the Village Hall on Sunday, May 31st, which was conducted by the ministers of the four churches in the village. On Coronation Day itself there was a tea for the children in the Village Hall, followed by races and games. On Wednesday, June 3rd, a concert was given by the school children, preceded by a tea for the Old Age Pensioners. Coronation Bibles were presented to two of the four Sunday Schools in the village.

Little Downham. The rain of Coronation morning did not damp our enthusiasm. The day's celebrations began with a service for which the little Church was packed with people, all dressed in strange costume. After the service the grand parade of eight gaily decorated lorries, headed by the Little Downham ' band,' especially formed for the occasion, carried their tableaux around the village. The winning tableaux showed a Victorian Drawing Room; a representation of different Nations; and a Gipsy Wedding. When the parade arrived again at the school, where the Fancy Dress Parade, of many interesting entries was to be held, everyone looked wet and bedraggled, but none the less happy. Tea followed for the whole population of Downham. During the evening all were kept amused by Community Singing and Games, until the Queen's speech. Later the bonfire provided by the Boy Scout troop was was lighted, in spite of rain, and there was a good display of fireworks. Meanwhile, in the school, a Dance had begun, in which all could join, whatever their age.

Littleport. Fittingly, the celebrations began on Sunday with an open-air service preceded by one of the finest parades seen in the village, led by the Boys' Brigade and the British Legion Bands, and joined by all the organisations of the village. In the evening the British Legion Band led Community Singing in an open-air Concert which was well attended. The following evening a Coronation Concert was given in which the Women's Institute Dramatic Society, Littleport Ladies' Choir, the Male Voice Choir, and an octet of the Brass Band took part.

Coronation Day began with a service in St. George's Church, heralded by a Coronation Peal by the bellringers. Next came the much longed for Floral Dance, which progressed through houses and streets. Its gaiety was shown by garlands of flowers and high spirits despite the stormy weather. The children's teas were a great success in the afternoon, and in the evening the Floral Dance was resumed, followed by Olde Tyme Dancing in the school playground. Wednesday found the youngsters in the Cinema, and the over seventies' eagerly awaiting their tea. Modern and Olde Tyme Dances were held, and, during the week, cricket and football competitions. A 'spotting' competition was also organised by local shop-keepers.

Saturday, June 13th proved an excellent day for postponed out-door activities. Flat-racing, cycling and motor cycling drew the crowds, until at 7.30 p.m. the grand Musical Display and Tattoo was given providing a colourful spectacle. A grand firework display was held in pitch darkness, and the evening ended with a Torchlight Procession through the streets to the Recreation Ground for Community Singing and general merrymaking.

Little Thetford. On Coronation Day the celebrations started with a United Service in the Church, after which the souvenir mugs were distributed to the children.

During the afternoon the judging of the decorated houses was carried out. Teas for the children and the "over-sixties" were held in the school. Afterwards there was a fancy dress competition followed by a social and dance. The social was interrupted so that the Queen's broadcast could be heard. Refreshments were served during the evening. Later festivities included a comic cricket match - ladies' versus men - in which most of the participants wore fancy dress. Although the men were handicapped by using sticks and batting left-handed, they succeeded in winning the match.

A display of square dancing was given by some of the younger members of the village and then came the eagerly awaited, very enjoyable firework display followed by dancing in the school.

Milton. The celebrations began with a service in the Parish Church at which I had the honour of playing the organ. At 2.30 p.m., those taking part in the pageant assembled at the Men's Institute, and then went round the village on the lorry, to, the Hall grounds for the pageant. In the Pageant Ancient Britons captured a Roman whom the Druids then ordered to be sacrificed, at which there was much rejoicing. The sacrifice was prevented by the arrival of Roman soldiers, who engaged in a fight with the Ancient Britons. During the fight the Roman Emperor arrived in his chariot, and declared peace between the Romans and the Ancient Britons.

In the following Fancy Dress Parade the winner was a boy dressed as a sheik. Next came tea for adults and for children, followed by children's sports; a walking race for people over sixty; a flat race for adults; and a tug of war. The most exciting part of the evening was the Mock Football Match between the Women's Institute and the Men's Institute. The women were, dressed in clothes belonging to the Milton Football Team, and the men in women's clothes. After this we went into the marquee where we watched a short one-act play, and listened to the Commonwealth greetings sent to the Queen, to the speech of Sir Winston Churchill, and to the speech of Her Majesty The Queen.

The celebrations ended with a bonfire and firework display, during which pieces of Coronation cake were handed round by members of the Women's Institute.

Prickwillow. The day began with a service in the village church at which all denominations were represented. The three-course Coronation Luncheon, served to all inhabitants, was very well organised and thoroughly enjoyed by all. Portable wireless sets were loaned by members of the Committee so that proceedings in London could be followed by anyone who wished to listen. The weather was very disappointing and it was decided to postpone the Sports and Firework Display until the following Saturday, but the Parade took place in spite of the rain. Buffet tea, which like the luncheon, was paid for from the funds, was served in the Institute and school, and it was estimated that about six hundred people were fed. Prizes for the procession and mugs for the children were distributed at the Social.

Pymoor began with a procession through the village headed by a comic band. After this followed Pymoor Coronation Queen and about one hundred people in fancy dress. Next came a comic football match in which all the men dressed up as women. As it rained so hard the United Service was held inside a covered shed, and after it came tea, during which each school child received a Coronation mug as a souvenir. As the rain stopped, the maypole dancing and the crowning of the Coronation Queen were held. Later a dance, held in the W.I. Hall, ended a very happy day. On Saturday, the children had another tea and the sports, bonfire and fireworks were held.

Snailwell. We were given a delightful tea at the old Rectory, after which we sang the National Anthem. To every child under five was then given a Coronation cup and saucer, to every child of school age a propelling pencil, and to each of the old folk a tea caddy and spoon or a large tin of biscuits. In the Fancy Dress Competition there were so many colourful costumes and ideas that it was only with difficulty that the four best were chosen. They were: - a very ugly Black Witch; the Bisto Kids; a Coronation Charwoman; and a Coronation Carnival Spirit. Each was presented with a large tin of chocolates. Games and Sports on the lawn followed, and were enjoyed by both children and adults. The prizes were then given, and everyone went inside to eat ice-cream, food, and whatever they wanted.

Soham. Our Coronation celebrations began in brilliant sunshine -on Whit-Monday with a Parade of thirty-three decorated lorries through the town. There were also displays of dancing and and physical training by school children, and teas for all people over sixty, and for school children. During the week-end the Soham and district scouts held a Jamboree, and on the Sunday before Coronation Day a Parade and open-air Service were held.

Stretham. On Coronation Day the Fancy Dress, and Decorated Pram and Bicycle Competitions were held. On Saturday, at 2.30 p.m., there was a Comic Cricket Match between women and men, the men being comically dressed. Tea for children, and later, for adults, followed. In the evening Children's Sports were held on the Recreation Ground. At 6.30 p.m., Coronation Mugs and sweets were presented to the children, and free ice-creams later. After this the Adults' Sports began and there was laughter at funny races such as a Back-to-Back Race, a Blindfold Race, and. a Flower Pot Race.

Sutton. Coronation Week began with a special Coronation Service in St. Andrew's Church on Sunday morning. Television sets were installed in the Church and in the Methodist Chapel to enable the villages to follow the Service on Tuesday morning. During the evening a Dance was held in the British Legion Hall. On Wednesday afternoon teas were served for all the children and Coronation mugs were presented. This was followed by a Social and Dance and a Concert given by a Cambridge group. The celebrations continued on Saturday with a Fancy Dress Parade, and Races, and ended with a Firework Display.

Waterbeach. Coronation Day began with a United Service in the Parish Church. After this the children gathered on the village green, and went in groups to the Parochial School where the souvenir spoons and mugs were distributed to them. In the afternoon there was a Fancy Dress Parade in which there were five classes, including one for decorated prams and cycles. At 4.30 p.m., tea was provided for all children in the new School Hall, and for men and women over sixty in the Baptist Schoolroom. All people not included in these age groups could buy refreshments in the Legion Hall. From 6 to 7 o'clock an entertainment was given by the Primary School children. Then from 7.30 to 8.30 there was a Variety Concert in the School Hall. At 9 o'clock there was a dance at the RAF Station. The day ended with "God Save The Queen."

Wilburton. In spite of bad weather our Coronation Celebrations began on Monday evening with the judging of decorated houses. On Tuesday morning a United Service was held in St. Peter's Church, and afterwards cups and saucers were presented to the children in the school playground. At 1.30 p.m., a procession of decorated lorries was to have toured the village and ended with Community Singing, and items by School children, and square dancing, but because of bad weather this had to be cancelled. People of all ages enjoyed a delicious tea at 4 p.m. The weather was fine, so after the tea and children's Fancy Dress Parade, the children toured the village on the lorries. A Concert was held in the Village Hall in the evening followed by a Social and Dance which finished at 1.30 a.m.

Seeing the Coronation Procession.

Despite the early hour, there was an increase of excited talk at Guide Headquarters when the reveille whistle sounded at 3.45. Many thought they would wash and dress before the final rush of extra sound sleepers, I think some were washing at 3.0. Nobody minded rising at 3.45 because we were going to see the Queen. We waited in an air of suppressed excitement, for the inspection, which was our final ticket to our places. About 6.0 we set out to walk the short distance to our reserved stand, Block J, Queen Victoria Memorial Gardens, to the left of Buckingham Palace.

Our attention was first caught by the guards marching from St. James' Palace to line our part of the route. They were wearing their grey cloaks, which they removed as soon as the drizzle stopped.

About 8.30 the first procession started. It consisted of the foreign representatives, riding in dark coaches drawn by two well groomed horses. The escorts were very picturesque. I could imagine them stepping from a history book of the middle ages, with their small flags waving from their spears. The members of the royal family left next, about half-an-hour later. They all waved and smiled as the crowds cheered.

Our first glimpse of the State coach was when it was driven into the inner courtyard of the Palace, followed by household cavalry in their shining breastplates and plumed helmets. At approximately 10.20 the crowds around the palace became silent. The guards presented arms and the bands in front of the palace gates played the National Anthem. Yes ! the Queen was coming. The Queen wore a white dress with a sparkling coronet. She turned and Smiled as she came out of the gates and then the coach turned and went round the other side of the memorial.

After the golden coach had passed we blew up our air cushions and prepared ourselves to wait for the return. As we ate our lunch we listened to the Service over the loud speakers. Everyone stood at the actual crowning and to sing "All people that on earth do dwell."

As the service in the Abbey finished a procession started from the Palace which went to the Abbey to collect the Queen's procession and return to their barracks at about 4.45. They were wonderful to see, soldiers, sailors and airmen from all the Commonwealth and Colonies, all marching smartly, Canadian Mounties, Pakistan Pipers, marines of every colour, and Maoris who were either wearing no shoes or a very flimsy sandal. Then at last a very tired Queen came in her coach and escort. How pleased we were when she pointed the Guide block out to the Duke!

During the day we had had glimpses of Anne and Charles at the Palace windows. We arrived back at Headquarters at about 5.30, feeling very tired, a bit damp but very happy. This will be one of the days that I (with many other people) shall remember for the rest of my life - the colour, cheering, decorations and, most vivid of all, the smiling Queen in her golden coach.

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

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