Reports (edited) of Celebrations in Dover for the marriage of the Prince of Wales to the Princess Alexandra in 1863:
“On Tuesday last at half past twelve o’clock was solemnized at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, the marriage of His Royal Highness Albert Edward Prince of Wales, with Her Royal Highness the Princess Alexandra Caroline Maria Charlotte Louisa Julia, the eldest daughter of Their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess Christian of Denmark.
The Tenth of March in Dover
“Great was the concourse of spectators and sight-seers, which poured into our principal thoroughfares, not only from every court, crescent, terrace and alley in Dover but from the whole surrounding neighbourhood….
“…. last touches being given to the decorations of the ball-room, the mottoes and transparencies of the illuminations … while the thousands of happy youngsters were congregating from every quarter with flags and streamers, to the music of their own cheering voices, after partaking the good things provided for them… Parties of the Kent Mounted Riflemen in uniform, of the Cinque Ports Artillery and Rifles, civilians, redcoats and others, were to be seen promenading the streets…
“.. at eleven o’clock the Volunteers and various Societies intending to take part in the public procession commenced to assemble at the Market Place, the respective positions they were to occupy being denoted by small staves planted in the ground.. by 12 o’clock immediately started on the route … first the band and members of 1st Cinque Ports Volunteer Artillery Corps, who had donned their new “busbies” for the first time in public and which harmonized with the other parts of their uniform. Next followed the Mayor, James Worsfold Esq. in his robes of office, several members of the Corporation, mace bearer and town officers.. then members of the Odd Fellows and Foresters with splendid banners, and two attired as ‘Little Johns’ armed with bows and arrows; the men of the coastguard service, revenue cutters, with banner and four union jacks, and inhabitants some on horseback and some on foot. Route taken was Castle Street, Woolcomber Street, down Snargate Street over the bridges, and onto the Marine Parade again, where they joined the military who had marched from the Heights and Castle, in a line. At one o’clock a salute of guns thundered out from the Western Heights and Castle batteries and a rattling volley was discharged from the military on the seaboard, the band of the 59th Regt playing the National Anthem. This was repeated three times in the same order….
“.. On Tuesday masses congregated in Dover to witness the feu de joie – including a school from Beakesbourne with blue dresses and red cloaks… “A public dinner was held at the Shakespeare Hotel – forty of the principal tradesmen of Dover sat down to a repast served up in the usual recherche style by this establishment… the company afterwards dispersed to witness the illuminations and fireworks, afterwards re-assembling. An Officers’ luncheon was held at the Castle in the afternoon. “At 2 o’clock 100 Odd Fellows and Foresters sat down to a cold collation in the Market which by much decorating had been transformed into a comfortable looking dining hall. The task of providing this party was undertaken by Mr Ray of the Walmer Castle Inn. In the evening singing and dancing.. the wives and female friends of the members being admitted.. celebrations here continued till far beyond midnight. “Arrangements at the pier end of the town.. roasting of a whole sheep given by Revd Yate to the Dover boatmen… erection of a stone range at the entrance to Council house Street… at the time appointed the animal was declared done “to a turn”… served up with sundry accessories in the shape of vegetables, beer &c; to about forty of the boatmen, the use of the large room at the Custom House having been obtained for that purpose.
“The School children of St John’s Mariners Church, about 300 assembled and with their flags and banners afterwards paraded some of the streets in the Pier district. On return their little hearts were made glad by the presentation of a plum-cake, a threepenny piece and a favor of Coventry ribbon to each child. The entire cost defrayed by the minister of the church, Revd W. Yate.
“Also through the liberality of Mr Yate the Coastguard men stationed at Dover and crews of the Revenue cutters were entertained to sumptuous dinner of roast beef and plum pudding &c; in the school room of St Johns, and each man drunk the health in a bumper of wine.
“Old folks of various churches and chapels were provided for by subscriptions made among the various congregations. In connection with Christ Church, a dinner of roast beef and plum pudding was given to every person over fifty-five years of age and to every widow.
“At Trinity Church, 120 of the poor of the pier district were feasted on roast beef, plum pudding and ale.. . special thanks were due to the proprietors of the Ship Hotel, Mr Hipgrave of the Gun, Messrs Jeken and Co, Mr H. Cliffe and Messrs Page for liberal contributions. A magnificent joint of beef weighing 40 lbs was contributed from the first of these. After dinner the National Anthem, and toasts…. and three times three cheers for the Queen and Prince and Princess of Wales.
“THE CHURCH SCHOOLS: Between 9 and 10am the children, about 1,300 (exclusive of 360 infants who had their own nursery feasts), assembled at St Marys Church.. short service… after which the children went in procession with flags and banners and paraded the town, through Waterloo crescent and Marine parade to Castle Hill and St James New Church.. proceeding via Park Street to the hall, which had been converted into a spacious dining saloon. Tables down the entire length of the hall, also an ante-room given up for the accommodation of the youthful guests… after grace the feast was commenced in right ernest, the tables being presided over by 27 gentlemen and 54 lady carvers. Total items were: 530-lbs roast beef, 1,700 roasted potatoes, 840 rolls,500 lbs Christmas pudding, 72 gallons of beer (supplied by Leney and Evenden) and 900 oranges. Tables prettily decorated with bouquets and each child wore a rosette of Coventry ribbon… thanks, toasts… cheers and National Anthem… A repast was then given to the teachers and assistants from what remained of the feast. The ‘fragments ‘ were distributed the next morning among some of the most needy of the Charlton parishioners.
“THE NONCONFORMIST SCHOOLS” Zion Chapel: About 230 children with teachers and friends assembled in the school-room which was tastefully decorated with flags and banners… a bountiful breakfast was served up and each adorned with a Coventry ribbon favor… National Anthem with three additional verses. At 9am the children marched up to the Market Place to take up position with the other schools; on return from the town parade they returned to be presented with a bun, an orange, and small sum of money. Wesleyan friends at Buckland… at 7.45am the Sunday scholars gathered in the school-room where 186 were given a substantial breakfast, their number augmented by some invited aged visitors. Feasting concluded at 8.40am and they then gave recitations. Later they joined the other schools in the parade, afterwards being presented with oranges buns and a fourpenny piece each. Salem Chapel minister, teachers, friends assembled at 7am for an early breakfast prior to arrival of the children at 8am for a similar repast, of bountiful provisions… later making their way to the Market Place, before returning for oranges and fourpenny-pieces. The Tower Hamlet Methodists – children numbering 110 took part in their own very similar proceedings, also 100 of the ‘Primitive’ Brethren from Peter Street. Russell street chapel minister, teachers and friends breakfasted at 7am and later the schoolchildren, 200, were plentifully regaled in the school room; afterwards presentations to the children were made and they joined the town procession. Similar celebrations enjoyed by the Snargate Street Wesleyans who were ‘up with the sun’. For the children’s breakfast gatherings – an estimate that the consumption included some 35 gallons of milk, 25 lbs of coffee, 80-lbs of sugar, 70-lbs of butter, sundry hams, several plum and spiced cakes, 1300 sausage rolls, 1400 hot buttered rolls, 2600 large buns, a quantity of French bread and (at Buckland only) nearly 200 eggs. Seven schools (with nearly 1200 individuals) assembled in the Market Square …. the National Anthem with additional three verses for the occasion was sung by over a thousand voices.. On conclusion the schools paraded through the principal thoroughfares of the town… to the Rifle Monument near Camden Crescent where the party again sang the National Anthem, and then dispensed to their respective schools for their gifts.
Took place at the Lord Warden Hotel, attended by the Mayor and Corporation….
Firstly the Masonic Ball at the Royal Oak Assembly Room, decorated profusely with flags and evergreens… party swelled to 120 a little before 10… the band of 83rd Regt commenced their well arranged programme. Breakfast at about 2 o’clock was “all that could be desired” and the party had not broken up when ‘chanticleer sent forth his shrill announcement of break of day’. There were Balls at the Wellington Hall; the Ball at the Apollonian, on Wednesday was one of the gayest of the season… about 130 of the elite of Dover and neighbourhood (names given).
Memories were taxed to recall a jubilation to compare with the feature of illuminations at Dover on Tuesday. Whenever the eye was distracted, attention was caught by symbols of the nation’s joy, – Chinese lanterns, transparencies, candles, gas-lighted designs &c.; Their number was ‘legion’ and of considerable beauty of design. The Castle was conspicuous among the places which drew marked attention, with its commanding position and the novelty of its mode of illumination. Scarcely less interesting were the many-coloured lanterns that adorned the long sweep of mansions fronting the bay, Cambridge Terrace, Camden Crescent and private residences and shops innumerable in other parts of the Borough. .. The desire for thus participating in the general manifestation pervaded all classes…. the display surpassed everything of the kind hitherto attempted here. (A long list of illuminations and decorations on the shops and other buildings follows) … At the Pier Station … a triumphal arch of evergreens, extending across the double line of rails, was erected. The foliage tastefully interspersed with flags of various colours and devices in gilt and above the centre arch the motto “May they be happy”, surmounted by the Prince of Wales’ Plumes in gas jets. On either side were the letters “AA” and Brunswick stars…. The entire lengths of the platforms were also tastefully ornamented with evergreens and festoons of artificial roses etc… a party of French decorators were employed to prepare the ornamentation… The Dover terminus presented an imposing appearance… a kind of bower or alcove which extended the entire length of the building, some 700 ft, was formed of evergreens with flags and roses, illuminated with an unlimited supply of Chinese lanterns, variegated oil lamps etc. Garlands with Turkish lanterns… All of the trains that left the station during the day were profusely decorated; and at twelve o’clock a salute of 21 fog signals was fired in the arrival shed.
CASTLE HILL BONFIRE –
“Rumours had been afloat that the beacon on the field over the Water-works would eclipse all previous displays of a similar nature, and throw its reflection in long lines across the channel, “the sea trembling with its silver light.” The bonfire was lit at 9 o’clock and, owing to the Archangel tar and turps, it blazed up brightly…. the spectators standing around, amidst cheers, drank bumpers of good old English ale (supplied by Leney and Evenden) and toasted the royal pair. In the Waterworks, two sheep were roasted (one supplied by Mr Dickeson, one by Fry and Pepper) and, with the necessary etceteras, were carved up and partaken by the local Board’s employees, men employed by Fry and Pepper, contractors and many of the general public as liked to ‘eat, drink and be merry’. The bonfire was 35-ft high and 20 ft square at its base and composed of faggots, barrels of tar, pieces of timber,etc. (thanks to Messrs Finnis, Crundell etc)
KEARSNEY ABBEY: a party of the Volunteer Rifles and Artillery Corps with friends and men of the Main Service were entertained at a dinner in a spacious barn on the estate. Preparations were made for 300 persons. Tea was also provided succeeded by dancing and singing, and the immense bonfire lighted in the evening with display of fireworks. The bonfire at Kearsney was 30-ft x 35-ft and was burning all night. A special train back to Dover was chartered.
DOVER UNION: Tuesday was a day of national rejoicing, for no class was excluded from the festivities. .. Especial consideration was everywhere directed to diffuse a spirit of gladness in the walks of life where jubilation seldom can be indulged in; nor were those whose circumstances have led to their becoming inmates of ‘Workhouse’ establishments overlooked…. the kindness of the Guardians provided the inmates with a bountiful supply of Old English fare, roast beef and plum pudding. Nor was this generosity confined to this supply: beer, tobacco, snuff and tea were superadded; and in the evening a variety of games was permitted, in addition to music provided for those who were disposed to a little dancing. At a suitable hour after young and old had enjoyed themselves to their hearts content and diversified their pleasures by some loyal vocalization, all retired most orderly to their dormitories, grateful for the rare treat that had been afforded them. At night, several portions of the building were tastefully illuminated by Chinese lanterns.
(Dover Chronicle and Kent and Sussex Advertiser, Saturday March 14 1863, pages 2,3,4)