'It was a supremely happy occasion': Lilian Faithfull Care residents in Gloucestershire share their coronation memories

Residents and day guests from Lilian Faithfull Care homes across Gloucestershire are sharing their memories of coronations past, as the country prepares for King Charles III's ceremony this May 2023.

By Chloe Gorman  |  Published
Residents at Lilian Faithfull Care's Gloucestershire care homes share their memories of both King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II's coronations, as King Charles III prepares to take the throne this May 2023.

Lilian Faithfull Care homes across Gloucestershire are eagerly preparing to celebrate the coronation of King Charles III on Saturday 6 May 2023 — and some of its residents are sharing their memories of previous coronations, with many of them having travelled to London to see Queen Elizabeth II ascend to the throne back in 1953. 

Faithfull House resident, Margaret End, was 21-years-old when she travelled from Naunton to London to see the coronation: 'I met up with my brother who came down from Leeds University. We stayed overnight at a friend’s house and we caught the first tube of the day at about 4am. We found a place to sit on West Carriage Drive. We talked to the people round us and there were lots of Cambridge students climbing trees to get a better view. It came over the loudspeaker that Everest had been conquered — everyone was pleased that had happened.

'We had a good view and I do particularly remember Queen Sālote — she had an open carriage, as opposed to everyone else who had closed carriages. I can picture her, she waved and waved and delighted the crowd!'

Betty Sims, who lives at Resthaven in Stroud, remembers the coronations of both King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II: 'I remember King George's coronation as if it was yesterday. I was 10 and I went to Widden Street Junior School in Gloucester. [As part of the celebrations] there was a girls relay race, I ran and I was the last one to hold the baton. It was at Kingsholm Rugby Club. All the schools were there and it was a tremendous thing. 

'At the time of Queen’s coronation, I was working at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore as a primary school teacher and play therapist. My elder brother bought a television for the occasion. We got all the food prepared on a trolley and we sat there and watched it from beginning to end. The service was about five hours — everything was ceremony. The decorations were absolutely marvellous.'

Royal Court resident, Muriel Graves, turned 100-years-old in October 2022 and was one of the first in the country to get a birthday card from King Charles III. She remembers watching Queen Elizbeth's coronation on the television and said she thinks King Charles is 'a lovely man, not only handsome and good looking, but I think he has a lovely speaking voice, and intelligent' and described Queen Camilla as 'a first class wife.'

Sheila Cooper, who lives at Faithfull House in Cheltenham, remembers her father getting a television especially for the coronation. She said: 'On the eve of the coronation we all piled into the car and my father drove us through London to see all the decorations and the streets were already crowded. There were masses of floral displays, streamers and paperchains; all the schools had got together to make decorations. It was a supremely happy occasion. It was absolutely marvellous, the atmosphere was fantastic.'

Fellow Faithfull House residents Doreen and Ernie Rowland, who recently celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary, were newlyweds when the coronation took place: 'Ernie was in the police force and he had fortunately been given the day off, which was lovely.

'We travelled down by train from Dartford to the Medway towns, we surprised Ernie’s parents, arriving just before lunch. They were delighted. They have bought a television set especially for the occasion. It was such a tiny screen. It was one that had the oil screen which went in front of the sets to help enlarge it. There was six of us and it was a lovely day especially as usually a policeman doesn’t get the time off on days like that.'

Margaret Cheetham was at university for Queen Elizabeth's coronation staying in a hostel run by nuns. She said: 'There were two very big houses and between the two there was a big garden, so they organised a huge party.  We always had to pray for the royal family, so it was a big thing in our lives. There was a television — they went to a lot of trouble to set it up. Everywhere was really festive, everyone was celebrating.'

Secret Garden Hub visitor Loretta Kurr remembers getting a special coronation mug from the tea party at the local village hall when she was just six years old; while Clive Pearce, who was at secondary school at the time, remembers fireworks, singers and just how good the Queen looked!

Mary Patterson from Faithfull House was 14 at the time of Queen Elizabeth's coronation and remembers winning tickets to see the event in person: 'There was a lottery for various organisations and my father — he was a big man in the Scouts — his number came up.

'We went to London the day before and stayed overnight in a hotel. The hotel breakfast was at five o’clock in the morning and I thought ‘I suppose that's what happens in London hotels!' As we were coming down to breakfast I saw the newspaper and the headline was the conquest of Everest.'

'We got to our appointed places on a stand, it was on Piccadilly backing onto Green Park. We sat and the rain came down — it was extremely wet! I had my Girl Guides uniform on. In due course the procession came past. Oh my word, wasn’t that exciting! There were mounted bands and the horses were obviously very well trained...

'When the procession was eventually over, we scampered across Green Park to Buckingham Palace; in those days I was young and spry!'

Lilian Faithfull Care's residents will witness another historic moment when King Charles III ascends to the throne this May 2023, making even more incredible memories, with the charity's 'Remarkable Lives' project capturing them for generations to come. 

For more information about Lilian Faithfull Care and its 'Remarkable Lives' project, visit lilianfaithfull.co.uk.

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