Jottings · Witterings

Coronation Year

It may have escaped many people’s notice but then again it may have not, that 60 years ago this month our current Queen was crowned, in a spectacular ceremony at the abbey which was broadcast to millions in this country and the shores beyond.

Both my parents were alive, albeit very small in 1953 and Dad was one of the lucky few who had a television, considered very well to do by my mum who does not really recall much about the day, she assumes they listened on the radio, and her father was not at sea as they went up to London a few days later to look at the flowers, etc. Dad on the other hand was told to play in the garden, and he remembers a number of his aunts being there to watch. What they little they do remember, I am glad I know what they were doing, it is not until people have gone that sometimes you realise you never had the chance to ask questions.

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My late Nan, did not leave anything specific but when clearing out her home, we came across these mugs. I wanted to keep them, as part of history but I wish that I had asked how she came to get them and who they originally belonged to. I can only assume they were hers and her mothers.

From the left we have a Coronation beaker of Edward VII, a silver jubilee mug of George V, Coronation mug of George VI and then finally a coronation mug of Elizabeth II.

They are actually worth very little, you could quite easily pick these up off a well known auction site for around £5 each in some cases. They are nothing spectacular and “ten a penny” as I pointed out to Eric Knowles of the BBC programme Antiques Roadshow. Pictured here slightly obscure by a pole and next to David Battie.

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The Antiques Roadshow was in town, at the Royal Marines Museum and whilst I am not an avid viewer, I enjoy watching the programme and it is always fascinating to see how these things work. So armed with the mugs, and a Shelley bowl my mum had we ventured down there.

Now you have to queue, the British are good at queueing and you need to be. You have to queue, to get seen by the reception people and then you join another queue, depending on what you have, pictures, jewellery, ceramics and glass, furniture etc.

And I must say it is very well organised, there was no fighting, pushing or shoving. It was very civilised, it was very British and actually was really interesting. You can see that programme appeals to so many people, the age range was vast and it was great. I could not get over the amount of people who had brought pictures, and not just small ones, some really vast ones.

There were people around all the time, giving out information. There were medics who were checking to make sure everyone was okay, and bringing forward those who were elderly, heavily pregnant or might need some assistance, as it was not just the queue but the hottest day of the year so far, as my sunburn goes to prove.

Fiona Bruce was there, tall (even taller in her wedges, presumably so people can see her) and she was chatting to everyone, handing out cups of tea to the experts and staff, sun cream to those unsuspecting members of the public and just being a thoroughly nice lady. When needed she went off to do bits to camera and other media but then she came back in.

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Fiona Bruce is being filmed at the very top of the this building – you cannot really tell but take my word for it.

Not everything is filmed, if the expert or a member of the production team think you have piece worth being filmed then they will pull you out and set up one of about 4 (I think) cameras and the expert and the item will be discussed. The expert tries not to talk to you too much beforehand so the reaction you see on the television is true and natural. There are no rehearsals. We saw a few bits being filmed, and they cleverly weave the queue and all the experts tables in one area so that there are people around all the time and everyone can get the full Antiques Roadshow experience.

To be honest you don’t have very long with the expert, and that was okay because they are trying to see everyone that turns up and with over 2,500 people expected that day, you would love to have had time to chat to absolutely everyone.   Eric Knowles was a bit of a smooth talker, and thought my mum and I were sisters, but he was friendly and after all that queuing we were with him probably less than 5 minutes, but I did learn that if the Coronation beaker for Edward VII had said August 1902 it would have been more valuable than the one saying June 1902. He was meant to be crowned in June but it was moved to August  because he had appendicitis. That is the beauty of the programme, you learn something.

The queue at about 1pm, as we were leaving.
The queue at about 1pm, as we were leaving.

So as we left, the queue was still snaking round the grounds of museum, and many people I am sure had a wonderful experience just as I did. It is due to be on the television late summer, early autumn and I suppose I may well be in the crowd shots but that is all, if I spot myself I will let yo know. But the important thing is to ask questions about the items in relatives houses, because once they are gone they cannot tell you their story about the item, and the experts can only fill a limited amount of the history about an object.

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