Celebration of King George VI’s Coronation, 1937

The Coronation of King George VI took place on 12 May 1937. There are notes about the local impact of the Coronation in 20th Century Trumpington (page 20), Trumpington Past and Present (page 115) and the Parish Magazine.

In the May 1937 issue of the Parish Magazine, A.B.W. (the Vicar, Arthur Basil Wright) referred to special services to be held in the church on Sunday 9 May 1937, adding that his proposal to have the church flood-lit had not been approved. The Coronation service in Westminster Abbey was to be “reproduced by loud-speakers in the Church”, with copies of the service programme available for purchase from Mr Day’s shop. A.B.W. wrote that “I think I can trust the B.B.C. that nothing unsuitable for hearing in Church will be broadcast and I feel that it is entirely proper for the Church to be used by the people for a common meeting place on this great occasion …”.

The June 1937 issue of the Parish Magazine had a report on the local events. A Social held in the Village Hall was “crowded and jolly”, with children having tea and a conjuror followed by sports on a “glorious fine evening”.

Social event in Trumpington Village Hall to celebrate the Coronation of King George VI, June 1937. Source: Margot Andrews.
Social event in Trumpington Village Hall to celebrate the Coronation of King George VI, June 1937. Source: Margot Andrews.

In the Parish Magazine report, the Vicar added that the “broadcast was very well reproduced in the Church to a small congregation”.

Further information in the Parish Magazine was taken from an article in the Cambridge Chronicle:

“The Coronation has been celebrated in many different ways in and around Cambridge, but one of the most pleasing and most unusual took place at Trumpington on Saturday night, when a lantern procession was held.

Several hundred people collected on the Recreation Ground at 9 p.m. Every Trumpington child under 14 years of age was given a coloured Japanese lantern, complete with candle and stick to hold it up on. Other people bought them for 3d. each. At 9:30 the procession set off headed by a brass band, and with nearly 300 lanterns lighted and held aloft, it marched by Maris Lane to the Park entrance, past the Hall, beautifully floodlit for the occasion, and on to a field at the back, where a gigantic bonfire, prepared and given by Mr. and Mrs. Pemberton, waited to be lighted.

The picture of the long line of glowing many-coloured lanterns wending its way through the trees and across the Park was most picturesque and surprisingly beautiful. Among those marching in the procession were the Mayor and Mayoress, who kindly spared time to come, the ex-Mayor and Mrs. Wing, and the councillors for Trumpington Ward.

When all the company had collected, Mr. Pemberton welcomed everyone, and asked the Mayor if he would set light to the bonfire. This he did, and fed by sprayed paraffin, it blazed up nobly and was soon a fiery mountain. The band played, the people sang, fireworks whizzed and banged and the lanterns, like suspended fireflies, made an unforgettable picture. A simple celebration, but a most charming one.

The arrangements were made by a joint committee of the British Legion and the Women’s Institute.”

Context: the “Recreation Ground” was the original ground, where Anstey Way was later constructed (not King George V Playing Field, opened in 1951 as a memorial to the previous King George V). Trumpington had been incorporated in  Cambridge a few years before the Coronation, in April 1934, and the presence of the Mayor would have reflected that change. And, as they say on TV, the use of paraffin seems very dubious, do not try this at home!