Jubilee Fever Hits Reading

jubilee in Reading

In 1887, Queen Victoria celebrated her Golden Jubilee. The people of Reading raised an impressive £4200 towards the town’s commemoration of the great event.1

This included £1000 to help pay for a statue of the Queen by Reading’s favourite sculptor, George Blackall-Simonds. Amazingly enough, the statue still stands (in Town Hall Square), having survived not only today’s developers but also the WW2 bombs of February 10th 1943, one of which landed just a few yards away.2 Rumour has it, the only damage sustained was the loss of a Royal finger, which was rescued from the debris and is now kept in state at the Reading Museum.

There were two other permanent memorials built with the aid of subscriptions, the St Mary Butt’s Fountain and the Victoria Recreation Ground in Great Knollys Street. However, according to the Berkshire Chronicle, funds stretched a lot further than just bricks and mortar. A whopping £1000 was raised for the newly founded Imperial Institute in London. Closer to home, celebrations included a special dinner for the ‘aged poor’ (£250), a children’s fete (£525), various outdoor sports and amusements (£200) and a finale of fireworks (£100).  A further £100 was allowed for decorations and £300 for ‘miscellaneous’ expenses.3

Ten years later and everyone was suddenly and surprisingly expected to do it all over again, for rather than wait for the (previously) usual 75 year celebration of a ‘diamond’ event, it was decided that Queen Victoria’s next Jubilee was to be brought forward by a full 15 years. Her Government believed that she had been in mourning too long and that the country needed a boost of good old-fashioned patriotism. Plans went ahead for a Diamond Jubilee in 1897 to celebrate Victoria’s 60 years on the throne and in Reading, the frenetic fundraising began all over again.

Footnotes
[1] Berkshire Chronicle Newspaper 26th July 1897
[2] ‘The Story of Reading‘ by Daphne Phillips (Countryside Books 1980)
[3] Berkshire Chronicle Newspaper 26th July 1897

© Emmy Eustace

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4 thoughts on “Jubilee Fever Hits Reading

  1. Great post, I loved reading about Reading’s celebrations and it has inspired me to find out more about past jubilee events in Caversham and Emmer Green.

  2. Thank you for your positive comment Angela and for the invaluable feedback about my missing ‘comment form’. I hope you will be interested in my next blog on Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in Berkshire!

    • Hi, excellent research, a really good read and it leaves me wanting to know more, so I hope you don’t mind me asking; where did you find the information about the Victoria Recreational ground? I would like to know more about the permanent memorial status of the Park.

      • Thanks for the feedback, most appreciated. Sorry, this post wasn’t footnoted, I hadn’t quite got the hang of the HTML when I wrote it! I hope to add footnotes, retrospectively, over the next few weeks. However, most of the article was based on information from the Berkshire Chronicle Newspaper.

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