‘Six Coronations and an Abdication’ Walk

On 21st May, 17 people joined Geoff for an exploration of the story of British Royal Coronations, both nationally and locally, from KIng George IV to King George VI. Geoff contrasted how the excesses of 1821, and the ceremonial, changed over the years. 1821 saw the last time the King’s Champion rode into Westminster Hall, in armour, and flung down a gauntlet as a challenge to battle to anyone who denied the monarch’s legitimacy to rule. What a spectacle that could have been in 2023!! He also looked at how the initial preparations for the intended Coronation celebrations for King Edward VIII were amended and extended, in Southampton, ready for that of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

The walk began, as all our walks now will, at the former Non-Conformist Chapel where FoSOC Secretary, Val, had created a special display about FoSOC and people buried in the cemetery. Those attending were able to look round before, and after, the walk so as to see not only the display bur, also, some of our own exhibits. The aim is to have a display at the chapel for each of our walks so that we can begin our introduction inside the building.

Last year, for a Royal Connections Walk, Geoff had looked at visits to Southampton by royalty in regard to openings of new buildings and how the Golden and Diamond Jubilees of Queen Victoria were celebrated here, every story being related to someone, around at the time, who is buried in the Old Cemetery. On this walk he talked about Southampton’ importance with the Great Exhibition of 1851, the brainchild of Queen Victoria’s husband, Albert, the Prince Consort, and how the victory at Sebastopol in 1855, during the Crimean War of 1854-1856 was received, and celebrated, here. He told the stories of the arrival of the former Empress of France, Eugenie, in Southampton in 1880 when she went to Zululand to see where her son, the Prince Imperial, had been killed in the war of 1879 and the melancholy return to Southampton on her way back to her home at Chislehurst. There was, also, the reception for the Zulu King, Cetewayo, in 1882 who, subsequently, was to have an audience with Quieten Victoria at Osborne. The stories on FoSOC walks are varied so, if you have not been on one, do come and join us (booking requested, please) as the walks are offered free.

On the way round, Geoff spoke of the work of FoSOC. We would very much welcome help from anyone who would like to join us as one of our, unpaid, volunteers helping with tidying up and conservation within the cemetery. It is just a case of making contact, initially, through our e-mail at: fosoc1846@googlemail.com. Also, if anyone would like to consider training as a volunteer Guide, helping to tell people about the cemetery, a gem of both Southampton and Hampshire, please just enquire, no obligation, and we will provide full training and support but you need to be fully dedicated to the preservation of the Old Cemetery and its support. As any form of volunteer, you will be asked, if not already a member, to join so that you have the benefit of the FoSOC insurance.

Our next walk is in June and this is the link for further information: https://fosoc.org/upcoming-events/

Photos taken by Bruce Larner