How Beccles celebrated Jubilee events in years gone by - right back to 1810

George V’s Silver Jubilee in 1935 Beccles

George V’s Silver Jubilee in 1935 shows children walking to the Caxton Recreation Ground in Beccles for an afternoon of Jubilee fun. - Credit: Beccles and District Museum

Jubilee celebrations are to be showcased as part of a special exhibition which will reveal how a market town celebrated similar events over the last two centuries.

As Beccles will be celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in a variety of ways over the weekend, there will also be an event highlighting how the town has marked jubilees in the past.

Organised by Beccles and District Museum there will be an exhibition in St Michael’s Church on The Walk from 2pm on Saturday, June 4.

The ‘Beccles Celebrates Jubilee Again’ event will feature words and music as it links past and present Beccles Jubilees in a tribute to the Queen.

Barry Darch, chairman of trustees at Beccles and District Museum, said: "The event will showcase a wide variety of local performers, young and old, in keeping with its long tradition of marking Jubilees, which goes back to at least 1810 when the Corporation of the Fen decided to spend £50 - more than £4,000 in today’s money - ‘in regaling the Poor of this Parish’ to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of George III."

Dr Darch said that jubilee celebrations "took on larger dimensions" in the reign of Queen Victoria as permanent memorials were created.

He said: "In 1887 400 poor and aged persons were given a sit-down dinner, consisting of meat, bread and plum pudding, but they had to bring their own cutlery!

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"Athletic sports took place on the Common.

"The great stained-glass East window of St Michael’s Church was created to commemorate the Jubilee and contributions from grateful townsfolk also paid for the extension of the Hospital - then in Fair Close.

"A new ward was added, bringing the accommodation to 15 beds and three cots."

Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, Station Road in Beccles.

Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, Station Road in Beccles. - Credit: Beccles and District Museum

With the Queen celebrating her Diamond Jubilee in 1897, Dr Darch said: "Much debate -including two public meetings - took place in the town over how the milestone should be marked.

"Eventually it was decided to build a home for the town’s nurse – even though a vote had been in favour of a new public hall."

Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 in Beccles

Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 shows the Star Hotel, Gosford Road in Beccles. - Credit: Beccles and District Museum

With tea provided for 2,000 children on the Common various games were held before a procession of cyclists in fancy dress paraded through the decorated streets at 9pm.

A grand carnival was held in 1935 for George V’s Silver Jubilee, with the scouts lighting the beacon at 10pm on the Common where they were joined by the Guides around a camp fire for community singing.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 - a house decorated in Ballygate, Beccles.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 - a house decorated in Ballygate, Beccles. - Credit: Rosemary Hewlett

The Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977 saw a grand fete held at Beef Meadow, the Fire Brigade’s open day and disco and the Regal Theatre’s ‘all-star Variety Show’.

Dr Darch said: "The gates to The Avenue from The Common were renovated - and will be refurbished again in 2022."

Special souvenir

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This special souvenir is available for £9.99 online and in-store. 

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