CORONATION-WARE doesn’t seem to be as collectable as it used to be.
You know the sort of items I mean – china plates, cups and saucers (but mostly mugs) marking the ceremony of the crowning of a sovereign, or of a sovereign’s consort.
You might have examples tucked away in a cupboard somewhere yourself.
Perhaps you have a piece relating to our current Queen’s coronation in 1953?
These simple, decorated mugs were mass produced and often given out free. As a result they are quite commonplace and not generally worth that much in monetary terms.
They are, nevertheless, historically interesting and so it was with that thought in mind that I was pleased to accept the donation of one to add to my ever growing collection of old bits and pieces.
It is a Royal Doulton mug of the 1937 Coronation of King George VI and Elizabeth (the Queen Mother). There is a profile portrait of the young couple on the front, but it was the reverse that intrigued me the most, for it is a bespoke Maldon version.
Our old borough coat of arms (of the ship and three lions) appear in light blue with ‘Maldon’ at the top and ‘AL Clarke, Mayor’ underneath. This would have been Arthur Laver Clarke who was town mayor for no less than ten terms between 1923 and the coronation year in 1937.
Like other towns in this country, Maldon has a very long tradition of celebrating coronations, royal jubilees and weddings.
- The 1937 King George VI and Elizabeth coronation mug
Just two years before my mug was issued, on May 6, 1935, events took place across town to mark the silver jubilee of the reign of the previous monarch – George V and Queen Mary.
I have a copy of a contemporary programme which indicates that the same Arthur Clarke chaired a committee which organised a grand procession from the historic Moot Hall (the traditional office of the mayor) the short distance to All Saints’ Church.
It consisted of a band, a contingent of marching firemen, police, the councillors and other borough officials.
A church service then followed, conducted by the then vicar, the Rev Canon Isaac L Seymour (who was the incumbent of All Saints’ from 1917 to 1947.
In the afternoon a further procession started in Gate Street and wound its way down to the promenade.
It included decorated vehicles and large groups of local school children. Those excited youngsters then enjoyed an afternoon tea (no doubt including ample amounts of jelly and ice cream) and received free royal souvenirs (including mugs).
It was then time for sports, amusements and dancing. There was a ball for the adults in the evening at the Swan Hotel (in what is now the Cygnet Room), a torchlight procession from the promenade to Beacon Hill and much community singing.
- The King Geirge V silver jubilee programme
All in all there was a great party atmosphere and Maldon residents clearly loved their monarch, but then they had done since his coronation back in 1911.
On that occasion the local newspaper, the Maldon Advertiser, produced a ‘Coronation Special’ which was full of praise for the new king (again I have a copy, albeit a rather tatty example).
A general committee (this time chaired by mayor Henry William Sadd) oversaw the festivities which were similar in nature to those later ones.
Once more these included a church service, High Street processions (including to the grammar school playing field), decorated carriages, motor cars, shops and houses, a tea for 1,042 children, a magic show, a 21-gun salute by the local volunteers and a bonfire on what was known as Tyler’s Hill (now the upper part of St Giles’ Crescent).
- Bentall’s won a prize for their decorated vehicle at the 1911 coronation
Maldon has marked royal events like these down the centuries and those of George VI and George V are but two examples. Within living memory, in 1953, the council pulled out all the stops once again for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
Another commemorative programme was produced and in it mayor Ernest Clifford Dines quite rightly said: “Maldon shall continue to be loyal to the throne of England…”
And so it has been and the Queen has re-paid that loyalty by visiting us on not one, but two separate occasions – in 1971 and 2010, well and truly cementing that royal association. Copies of coronation programmes (and of course those commemorative mugs) evidence our community’s long-term enthusiasm for their successive monarchs and I, for one, say long may that continue to be the case.