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Poster advertising Coronation Festivities 1911

Poster advertising the Coronation Day Festivities 1911

© Richard J. Brine


When Edward VII died on 6 May 1910, the nation was shocked - as Prince of Wales he had waited so long to become King and his reign had been so brief - he had come to the throne at the age of 59 in 1901. But people who had been close to the royal family knew that his lifestyle had brought about his death - he is said to have been a heavy smoker, getting though 20 cigarettes a day and 12 enormous cigars and enjoyed five meals a day and a figure that showed it. He drank heavily, loved staying up at parties and had numerous affairs .


His second son, formerly the Duke of York succeeded him and couldn't have been more different. He was a quiet-living, home-loving man who became the heir to the throne after the death of his elder brother, known in the family as "Eddy" and who had married a princess destined to become that brother's wife. The  marriage of the Duke of York and Princess May (or Queen Mary as she became known) was a happy one and , the couple brought some much needed respectability to the throne. Although Edward VII had been a popular monarch, the new king - King George V - together with Queen Mary and their version of  happy family life gave the people of this country a life-style with which they could  they could identify.


Coronation Day was to be Thursday 22nd June 1911 and the government let it be known that they expected special festivities to take place throughout the land to mark the occasion, so in virtually every town and village meetings were organised and plans were drawn up..


However, with less than  than 300 inhabitants, Countisbury was not expected to go it alone - everyone assumed that such small, spread-out populations would join up with their nearest large neighbour.  Clearly, Lynton thought this would happen  but the first meeting of the organising committee  held there began with a bombshell -  the vicar of Lynton held up a postcard he had received from a Miss Halliday and a Miss Cosway saying it would be impossible for Countisbury to join with Lynton - no reason given, just an abrupt message. But everyone in that room knew that Miss Halliday was the Lady of the Manor, that she owned an estate called Glenthorne and every last acre of the little parish of Countisbury and that Miss Cosway was her sister.


Before getting down to the details of what Lynton would do on Coronation Day, a resolution was passed that someone would try to talk them round and maybe even collect a subscription from them but everyone in that room would have known also that the prospect of changing their minds would have been hopeless.


So Lynton went ahead with planning a day filled with its own ideas of what kind of show they were going to put on. They proposed a procession followed by a church service, a cold dinner to be available to all,  the royal standard to be flown over the town hall on the day, a competitive sporting competition with cash prizes and at night a bonfire on three of the neighbouring hills (including Countisbury Hill) . And the children were to be presented with Coronation Mugs of good quality.


A brief glance at this poster advertising Countisbury's activities reveals that the inhabitants missed out on nothing - the Church Service, the free dinner, the sports session (for cash prizes) and the bonfire are all there, presumably provided through the generosity of Miss Cosway  and Miss Halliday who were much loved by their tenants and who they treated well. And all without the fatigue of having to go down and then up, two of the steepest hills in Devon,to share in Lynton's celebrations.


A good time was no doubt had by all !


Glenthorne, Countisbury c. 1850

Glenthorne c. 1850

3½ miles from the nearest road, Bath stone and everything else used to build this house was brought in by sea. There was a small beach here with a landing stage and the Hallidays brought their coal over from Wales .

Courtesy of Devon County Council


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