Royal celebrations in the Astons
The first known royal event was the purchase of the recreation ground for the village in 1897 to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria. The village has never had a village green as such, so the addition of a community area for leisure and sport was a really important event for the village. See the page Village Initiatives for more details.
The next record we have is the telegram sent by the village to Buckingham Palace on the coronation of George V in 1911.
In June 1914 the Prince of Wales, the future Edward, spent the night in an outhouse of the Rectory with the Oxford University cadet corps. We have a photocopy of a framed picture of several photos taken of the event together with the thank you letter from the prince, kindly donated by a previous owner of the Old Rectory, Mary Ackworth.
In September the same year George V reviewed troops on the Aston Downs. We have no photo of that visit, but we do have a photograph taken in the 1890s of Yeomanry Camp at Churn which gives a good idea of the event.
1937 saw the coronation of George VI the village celebrations for which are detailed in the accounts for the organising committee. They include refreshments that included 18 gallons of beer at a cost of £2 and 19 shillings.
1953 saw the coronation of our current queen, Elizabeth II. The nationwide euphoria at this event has been well documented in television documentaries in recent years as her reign has continued. The Astons celebrated with a village party and dance, with bonfire and rockets on Blewburton Hill. There was a children’s trip to London to see the coronation illuminations, and tea and entertainments for the ‘Old folks of the parish’. The list of events was published in a village programme, and also in a Didcot souvenir programme.
1977: a committee was set up to organise the Silver Jubilee events, which held public meetings which anyone could attend, and at which all village organisations were represented. The main celebrations were on June 4 with a party and tea on the recreation ground, with games and competitions including pillow fights on a slippery pole over water and an obstacle course.
The village still has some of the original games from that party, which still get used on occasion – a treasure island and village map pin-board for ‘find the treasure’ and a throw a sponge at the fat lady (are we allowed to say that?) stand. Every child was given a jubilee crown coin, and the evening ended with a party at the village hall. The celebrations continued on June 6 with a wheelbarrow race to the top of Blewburton Hill, a beacon bonfire, barbeque and disco dance, and were rounded off in September with a spectacular Son et Lumiere production of Agincourt Field held in the Manor gardens - the programme for this lists a cast and production team of 100 villagers.
The funds raised by all these events were shared between the Red Cross, St. Michael’s bells appeal, and the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Appeal fund.
2002 saw celebrations marking the Queen’s Golden Jubilee with a barbeque, party, games and fireworks at the recreation ground. All children under twelve were given a souvenir mug;
2011 saw the marvellous street party, pictured at the top of this page, organised to celebrate the marriage of William and Kate Middleton. Baker Street was closed, and games were held in Manor Paddock;
2012 saw the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrated with a party on the recreation ground and a beacon and firework display on Blewburton Hill;
2016 June 12th - the Queen’s 90th birthday was celebrated with a picnic and party at the recreation ground.
Our thanks to villagers past and present who kept and have since donated these mementoes and photos of these royal celebrations.
ASTONS DIGITAL COMMUNITY ARCHIVE (ADCA)
The History Group’s archive of pictures, and documents, is gradually being digitised and added to our community archive.
Do you have any interesting photos that could be scanned and added to the village archive?