The day the king visited Wymondham and Attleborough
Nowadays royal visits a fairly commonplace, but 100 years ago a King passing through was worthy of a big celebration! Historian Philip Yaxley recalls the day Edward VII came to Wymondham and Attleborough… ONE hundred years ago the patriotic townsfolk of Attleborough and Wymondham turned out in force when their King, Edward VII, passed through on the morning of Monday, October 25, 1909.
Nowadays royal visits a fairly commonplace, but 100 years ago a King passing through was worthy of a big celebration! Historian Philip Yaxley recalls the day Edward VII came to Wymondham and Attleborough…
ONE hundred years ago the patriotic townsfolk of Attleborough and Wymondham turned out in force when their King, Edward VII, passed through on the morning of Monday, October 25, 1909.
The King was travelling by motor car from Quidenham Hall, where he had been staying with the Earl and Countess of Albemarle to Norwich. Whilst in the City he was to present colours to the units of the County's Territorial Forces and lay the foundation stone for new buildings at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.
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Both towns went about their preparations for the special day with great enthusiasm. In Attleborough a committee, under the chairmanship of Mr A Sutton, was formed to arrange for the streets through which the distinguished visitor would pass, to be profusely decorated, while in Wymondham the Parish Council appealed to the townspeople to decorate their houses and shops along the route. At the bottom of Market Street, William Carter and his wife trimmed the window of their cottage with silk in the King's racing colours of purple and gold.
Magnificent triumphal arches, through which the King would pass, were erected, one at Attleborough close by the Corn Exchange and one at Wymondham near the fire station in Market Street. In Attleborough all the decorative work had been overseen by John Harrison, a builder and decorator who had his yard in Station Road, while in Wymondham the arch had been erected by Harry Bowden, a builder, and decorated by Mr J W Clutton, head gardener at Stanfield Hall.
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Early on the appointed day, the streets were thronged with excited people, both from the towns themselves and the surrounding villages.
In Attleborough the schoolchildren from the town, Besthorpe, the Ellinghams and Shropham were assembled in Queen's Square, while 400 pupils from the Browick Road Public Elementary School were marshalled on the Market Place at Wymondham by their headmaster Edward Snell. They were joined there by the children from Silfield School, who had been marched to the Market Place by Clara Richardson, their headmistress. Almost without exception, local businesses and establishments closed, many for the day, to allow their employees to cheer the King. S D Page and Sons, the Wymondham brush manufacturers, granted their workers 'a day's holiday in honour of the visit by his majesty.'
As his cavalcade slowly proceeded through the crowded streets of both towns, the King was 'heartily cheered' and on the Market Place at Wymondham, amidst the volume of cheers, the schoolchildren, assisted by members of the church choir, sung the first verse of the National Anthem just as their Monarch passed.
A tremendous amount of preparation had been undertaken for an event which was to last in each town but a couple of minutes. Today, that seems inconceivable, but at that time Great Britain still had an Empire and there was universal admiration for the Crown.