Thursday, July 18, 2013

Victoria's Coronation Banquets

Because my novels are set in the earliest Victorian years, I am often researching the goings-on of that day. This gave me the opportunity to look into the feasting that accompanied the coronation of Queen Victoria.

There was far more feasting than what the royals and peers enjoyed. Queen Victoria Online states: "There was feasting at workhouses and hospitals and charity schools, and in Hyde Park there was a Fancy Fair which lasted four days."

Therealcambridge blog brings out that the good and gracious of Cambridge decided to have a dinner for the poor at Parker’s Piece on Thursday 28th June 1838. 12,000 respectable and deserving "suitable" adults and 2,700 Sunday School children were invited, but of course, not workhouse residents, though workhouse children were given meat that day. Seventy tables accommodated the diners. Upper class residents were invited to purchase tickets to watch the event. Were were these "betters" to sit?

A report in the Independent News stated, "A spacious and lofty wooden orchestra was raised in the centre of The Piece, capable of holding 100 musicians. An extensive framework, with seats on all sides, encompassed the orchestra from whence the more respectable inhabitants could have a commanding view of the dinner. Surrounding this was a green area, forming a Promenade for the accommodation of the humbler classes."

The 2 PM meal included1608 plum puddings,1029 joints of meat, 72 lbs. of mustard,140 lbs. of salt,125 gallons of pickles, 4500 loaves of bread, 99 barrels of best ale, 100 lbs. of tobacco and 6 lbs. snuff.

According to the blog Food History Jottings, similar events took place in Lewes and Wisbech. Such events, the blog states, led to today's street parties.

The book Queen Victoria: a biographical companion by Helen Rappaport states that the unusually low coronation budget (perhaps there was no money left since George IV's coronation?) was spent on a state procession for the benefit of the public rather than the usual banquet for a chosen few at the Palace of Westminster, and that across the country parishes had coronation dinners. The queen is said at  to have bathed her dog that afternoon, after the coronation, as usual. Other sources state that her Coronation banquet was attended by one hundred persons. Here is a picture of her Coronation banquet dinnerware.

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