Edward VII and his wife, Alexandra, were crowned King and Queen of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and as Emperor and Empress of India on 9th August 1902. It had been over 60 years since the last coronation when his mother, Queen Victoria, had been crowned in 1837. Victoria had died the previous year on 22nd January, aged 81. The coronation was originally scheduled for 26th June, but the ceremony had to be postponed at very short notice because the King was taken ill with an abdominal abscess that required immediate surgery.
Plans for the Coronation
In Badsey, a public meeting was held in the Old School (the former Royal British Legion/Pub in a Club building which is due for demolition) on 15th April to consider how to celebrate Coronation day. It was decided to give a dinner to adults and a tea for the children, and to provide sports and amusements for the day. A committee was formed in order to raise funds and make all the necessary arrangements. It was also agreed that the parishioners of Aldington and Wickhamford should be invited to join the Badsey celebration if they wished to do so. A subsequent discussion agreed that it would be advisable not to hold a Flower Show in 1902 because of the coronation celebrations.
Postponement of the Coronation
On the day of the original date planned for the coronation, the dinner for adults in Julius Sladden’s barn went ahead at 12.30, as arrangements were too far advanced to cancel. Likewise, in Aldington, the adults and children were all catered for on 26th June. Charles Binyon, who had arrived in Badsey in the summer of 1899 and quickly become involved in village affairs, wrote in his autobiographical notes for 1902:
In June the coronation of Edward VII was to have taken place, but his sudden illness caused it to be postponed. As this took place only two days before the date fixed, much difficulty was caused. We decided we could not postpone our arrangements and so a dinner and tea took place as arranged in a sombre mood.
Coronation Day in Badsey, Aldington and Wickhamford
Fortunately, the King was well enough to go ahead with the new coronation date of 9th August and he and his wife, Alexandra, were crowned king and queen of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and as Emperor and Empress of India. An account of the festivities in Badsey on Coronation day was recorded in the Parish Magazine of September 1902.
The day began with bell-ringers ringing a merry peal. This was followed by Divine Service in St James’ Church at 11 am, following the form and order of service drawn up by the Archbishop of Canterbury was used. This consisted of a shortened form of Litany, the service of the Holy Communion together with special prayers and hymns, and the proclaiming of the King.
With regard to the secular festivities of the day, the schoolchildren received their Coronation cups and saucers or mugs, and were entertained at tea, after which they had athletic sports, and prizes were given out of the funds. Peals on the bells were rung at intervals during the day, and in the evening an excellent display of fireworks was given in the Stockey by Charles Binyon, the expense being defrayed out of the Coronation funds.
The children of Wickhamford were entertained at tea, mugs presented to them, and sports organized. The children of Aldington also received Coronation mugs. They had previously been very well entertained on 26th June.
Maureen Spinks, April 2023