The 20 June 1897, marked the 60th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne. At Sherborne School there were discussions about how the School should celebrate the occasion. Suggestions ranged from a day of comic sports which might involve catching pigs with soaped tails, climbing the greasy-pole and sack races, to holding a gymkhana or a boxing match. Someone offered to address the boys in the Big Schoolroom on ‘the pusillanimity of the present government, and the feebleness of the Concert of Europe, and the unspeakable atrocities of the Turk, with some remarks on the Budget, and on the conduct of Mr Chamberlain and Mr Rhodes, and to conclude with a short review of the Irish question’, but this suggestion was not well received. Another boy suggested a bonfire in the Courts, ‘but it was thought to be a plan of which the Headmaster might not approve.’
None of these suggestions were instigated and in the event many boys went home for the day and those who remained spent their time ‘eating, sleeping, and quarrelling, and playing “Tip and Run” down at the field.’ The School library was presented with a copy of a ‘beautifully illustrated’ book about Queen Victoria by Richard Rivington Holmes (the Queen’s librarian at Windsor), which it was thought would ‘prove of great interest not only to us but to them that come after us’, and the School Corp took part in the review of the Public Schools by Queen Victoria at Windsor, where ‘The March past though unsteady at the start was good at the saluting point.’
In Sherborne town the Jubilee celebrations were a much grander affair. The Dorset Chronicle of 24 June 1897 reported that ‘The proceedings of the day of rejoicing commenced with merry peals on the Abbey bells, and the firing of cannon on the terrace for about a couple of hours in the early morning.’ The streets were decorated with flags and bunting and ‘the loyal cottagers’ at Lower Acreman Street renamed their street Victoria Street for the day. The children of the town were entertained by Mr and Mrs Digby to a tea in front of the Castle where they were presented with a Jubilee mug and every child who took part in the procession around the town was given a large bun. The old people (those over 60 years of age) were all given 2s.6d.
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Posted 20 June 2017 by Sherborne School Archives.