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Important events in the life of the nation presented an occasion for community celebrations; the national way to mark the declaration of peace, Empire Day, a coronation, jubilee or royal wedding was a joyous out door event. Towns and villages were decorated with flags, banners and bunting; in urban areas, people celebrated with street parties, sports, games, singing and dancing; in rural communities the village green - in Tickhill the Butter Cross and Market Place - or a local field were the centre for similar festivities.  

Schools and Sunday schools played a big part in organising the celebration of these events, which were often preceded by a service of thanksgiving before the commencement of the festivities; Empire Day, in particular, was primarily a schools’ festival. To mark these special occasions all school children received a memento, such as a mug, spoon or tin of toffees, from the Local Education Authority or the benevolent local gentry. 

The coronation of Queen Elizabeth ll in 1953 was the last national event to be celebrated nationwide in the traditional way. By the Silver Jubilee in 1977, television had come to dominate people’s lives, and whilst some communities celebrated with parties and festivities, most were happy to sit back and watch the national celebrations on ‘the small screen’.   

Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee 1887

On March 15, 1887 a public meeting was held in Tickhill Boys’ School ‘to consider what steps (if any) must be taken to celebrate Her Majesty’s jubilee in a manner befitting the occasion’; the celebrations were to take place on June 21 - the day fixed by the Government - and June 22.  Amongst a large gathering were the Earl of Scarbrough, the Rev. Canon Charles Bury, Benjamin Brooksbank, Edward Wright of Tickhill Castle and local businessmen, Roger Rawson, Walter Jarvis, John and George Colbeck, George Jenkinson, Edward Clarkson, Joseph Percy, William Kirkland and Joseph Saxton.  

Three suggestions were proposed and agreed: namely a programme of local celebrations referred to as ‘The Treat’, a tree planting programme for Tickhill’s street and support for the Imperial Institute (later renamed the Commonwealth Institute) established by the British government and several of the countries of the British Empire to promote research to benefit the Empire. A Jubilee Committee, with Benjamin Brooksbank as Chairman, was selected; a subscription list was opened and the village was divided into four areas, with collectors appointed to collect subscriptions; a list of subscribers would be updated regularly and posted on the notice board of St Leonard’s Rooms. All the residents of Stancil, Wellingley and Wilsic were to be invited, and Hesley Hall and Sandbeck Hall had expressed an interest to join in the celebrations. 

As the preparations progressed Sub-Committees were formed to deal with specific arrangements, such as finance, the tent, decorations, sports, children’s tea and sports,  tickets, ham, meat, vegetables, beer, puddings and the Band. There had been problems in finding a band to play on the day, about 20 in the area had been approached but none were available; however former members of Tickhill Victoria Brass Band agreed to play if the Local Board bought the instruments, St Leonard’s Rooms were made available for band practice and Tickhill Jubilee Brass Band was formed! 

The people of Tickhill were woken early on Jubilee day by a peal of bells at 5am – the first of many to be heard during the day; an hour later by the National Anthem was played by the Band assembled at the Butter Cross. Flags and streamers decorated the streets and houses, some of which were brightly illuminated. The day’s formal events began at 10.30am, when the Jubilee Committee gathered at St Leonard’s Rooms, and led by the Band marched to the church, where the Vicar led a thanksgiving service. 

At 12.30pm, 1,000 people over the age of fourteen sat down to a dinner of beef, ham, mutton, potatoes, bread and beer, followed by plum pudding (made by local ladies), served in a tent 77yards long and 40 ft wide on the lawns of St Leonard’s; everyone had to bring their own knife, fork, plate, glass and cup or mug. An afternoon of sports followed on the Flower Show Field at St Leonard’s, kindly loaned by Mr Benjamin Brooksbank. £20 was spent on prizes, which were presented by Mr Edward Wright to the winners of the athletic events, fun events, such as the sack, three-legged and obstacle races, and a tug of war. A musical selection was played by the Band throughout the afternoon, and members were presented with commemorative medals by Mrs Adolphus Wright. 

The next day was essentially the ‘children’s day’; in the morning they all assembled in the school yard, where the under-fourteens were presented with medals by Mr Wright; this was followed by a procession was to the Castle and on to Butter Cross singing God Save the Queen at each stop. At 3pm 700 children, and those who could not attend the dinner the previous day assembled in the tent at St Leonard’s to enjoy a tea of sandwiches (made from broken meat left over from dinner the previous day), bread and butter, ginger beer and spiced cake. The children’s sports followed, the Band played a musical selection and Mr Brooksbank presented the prizes; after the sports the Band played dance music  - old and young danced until evening brought the day’s events to a close. 

The remains of the two days’ feasting were distributed to the deserving, and those who were unable to attend the ‘treats’ through illness. In all 1,200lbs beef, 10 hams at 30lbs each, 35lbs Cheshire cheese, 102lbs butter, 50lbs sugar, 96 pints milk, and 16 pints cream had been used; dinner was estimated to have cost 1/6 per head and tea between 6d and 9d

The Jubilee events were deemed a huge success: £164.7s.7d had been collected for the Treat, £7.14s.0d for the Imperial Institute and £15.13.0d for the tree planting scheme, giving a grand total of £206.4s.7d. An £8 profit was made, which the Committee decided should be spent on extra instruments for the Band.

Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee 1897

‘Nowhere in the district were the outward evidences of Jubilee rejoicing more marked than they were at Tickhill. ……The inhabitants add superabundant loyalty to their many other virtues, for their celebration of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee was on a scale most ambitious and laudable.’ This was the verdict of the Doncaster Chronicle in its report of Tickhill’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. 

The Diamond Jubilee Committee, chaired by Benjamin Brooksbank, had spent weeks planning a programme of activities that ran from 9.30 am until 10.30pm; the Jubilee Fund stood at £70 with more subscriptions expected, and the Committee was determined that this would be a celebration to remember – after all no British monarch had ever reigned for 60 years! Almost every house in the village was ‘lavishly decked with bunting, flags and banners’ in red, white and blue, and the royal monogram, V.R. could be seen on several buildings. 

Tuesday, June 22 began with a peal of bells at 5am. At 9.30am, 460 schoolchildren assembled in the school yard to be presented with medals by Mrs Charlotte Curtis of Weardale, who had provided them at her own cost. Shortly after 10am, a procession of school children, Friendly Societies, the Fire Brigade and members of the public, led by Tickhill Jubilee Brass Band, paraded through the village to the church for a service of thanksgiving. This was followed by a procession of 110 cyclists, both men and women in fancy dress riding decorated bicycles, who toured the town. Amongst the prizes for the best outfit were Miss Edith Rawson, who won the ‘Ladies Prettiest Turn-out’, and Mr F Greenhough as ‘Mephistopheles’ and Mr Edward Clarkson as an ‘Irishman carrying a live pig’, who won the first and second prizes respectively for the ‘Gentlemen’s Most Amusing ‘Get-up’’. Prizes were also awarded for the next event on the programme - the best decorated farm cart, and at 2pm, 16 farm teams assembled at the Butter Cross: the first prize went to Mr Jackson of Limpool. 

The Jubilee tea party, paid for from the Jubilee fund and supplied by the Doncaster Co-operative Society, began at 3.30pm, when 418 children sat down to tea in a large marquee in grounds of St Leonard’s, 90 minutes later, it was the turn of 1,016 adults. After tea, the children’s sports commenced on the Cricket Field with prizes being presented by the Vicar, the Rev. John Goodall; this was followed by a number of hot air balloons being sent up, a firework display and the lighting of a large bonfire, which was visible for miles. Tickhill Jubilee Brass Band had been in attendance throughout the day and played in the evening for dancing on the field. The festivities ended at 10.30pm with a torchlight procession through the village on bicycles. 

 It had been a glorious sunny day from dawn to dusk and the celebrations would linger in people’s memories for a many a year. As a permanent reminder of this momentous occasion, the Committee had allocated £5 from the Jubilee Fund for an ornamental pump and trough to replace the old one near the Market Cross, and £25 for a suitable structure on which to place a clock, which had been promised conditionally. 

The Relief of Mafeking 1900

A national holiday on Thursday, May 24, 1900 saw joint celebrations to mark Queen Victoria’s birthday and victory over the Boers at Mafeking. At 5am, the Church bells heralded the start of the festivities, and an hour later, a large crowd had gathered at the Butter Cross, which was brightly decorated with Union Jacks and banners, the National Anthem and other patriotic songs were sung, accompanied by Tickhill Jubilee Brass Band, and three cheers were given for the ‘heroes of Mafeking’. A short service at 11am was followed by a procession to the Butter Cross where more patriotic songs were sung. 

Large crowds turned out to watch a fancy dress parade together with decorated bicycles and prams; wagons and lorries carried, amongst others, members of the Urban District Council’s Fire Brigade with Captain, Mr Rawson, Britannia on her throne, and the Queen and her attendants.

A large part of the parade related directly to the War, with a representation of HMS Powerful, batteries of artillery, a troop of irregular horse in colonial costume, a company of smart lancers, a group of men dressed as Boers and a detachment of ambulance men with a Red Cross wagon; last was a carriage containing Presidents Kruger (Mr Edward Clarkson) and Steyn (Mr R Sarsby)

The Doncaster Gazette described the procession as ‘the best ever seen in the village’. 

Afterwards a re-enactment  (or ‘sham fight’ as the Doncaster Gazette called it) of the siege and relief of Mafeking took place, with the Castle representing Spion Kop, the Mill Dam was the Modder River and the Butter Cross – Pretoria; the Friary and the Vicarage were also used. The fight was realistic with each side having a supply of old rifles and blank cartridges; one man was accidentally shot in the back and after receiving treatment by Dr Phillips was transferred to Doncaster Royal Infirmary. (There was obviously no risk assessment or Health and Safety regulations to comply with!). 

For some unknown reason the planned sports, due to take place after the re-enactment, were abandoned, but there was a fine display of fireworks and a torch light procession in the evening. Collections for the ‘Heroes of Mafeking’

were made throughout the day’s celebrations, which attracted many visitors from surrounding villages. 

Coronation of King George V 1911

On Thursday, June 22, the bells of St Mary the Virgin rang out at 5am heralding two days of celebrations for the good people of Tickhill. An hour later, school children assembled at the Butter Cross and were presented with coronation medals – the gift of Miss Elizabeth Laughton of The Hollies; this was followed at 11am by a special service of thanksgiving conducted by the Vicar, the Rev. Augustus Dixwell Alderson. 

The afternoon’s events began with a parade, led by Tickhill Jubilee Brass Band, with adults and children in colourful fancy dress depicting characters, such as Robin Hood and his merry men, Red Cross nurses, match girls, gypsies, pierrots, flower girls, milk maids, soldiers, sailors and clowns. Trade and other vehicles pulled by drays were gaily decorated and carried tableaux depicting Britannia, the old woman who lived in a shoe and the old smithy; prizes were awarded for the best costume, tableaux and decorated vehicle. In the evening, a parade of decorated bicycles and cyclists was followed by a torchlight procession through the village, and a bonfire and display of fireworks in Willow Field near the Castle. 

The next day, school children paraded through the village in fancy dress costumes, followed by a tea party at the School, after which each child was presented with a Coronation Mug – generously provided by Mrs Curtis. A tea party for the over-55s was held in the Public Library, and there was a comic cricket match on the cricket field. Dancing followed late into the night and events culminated at the Butter Cross with a hearty rendition of the National Anthem sung by a large crowd under a blaze of lighted torches.

Empire Day

The idea of a national day to instil pride in the British Empire and solidarity with all its people was first suggested in 1897; however, it was several years before the first 'Empire Day' took place on May 24,1902, Queen Victoria’s birthday. It was not officially recognised as an annual event until 1916, although many schools across the British Empire were celebrating it before then. 

On Wednesday, June 24, 1916, ‘Tickhill to quote the Doncaster Gazette, ‘joined hands across the sea’ with her lads who were fighting for her, through the medium of a great demonstration and public meeting at the old Market Cross’. Empire Day was celebrated with great patriotism, the town was ablaze with flags, and people came out to support the ‘brave lads’. In the evening a procession of Special Constables, the Volunteer Corps, the Ambulance Corps and Tickhill Jubilee Brass Band paraded around the village to the Butter Cross, where the Vicar, the Rev. Horatio Booty, held a short service followed by speeches from Mr. J. Percy JP, the Chairman of the Council, Dr Caley, George Crossland and John Walker of Bawtry, after which the Vicar introduced a group of wounded servicemen from the hospital at Loversall. Collections throughout the day raised £13.15s.0d for the war effort.


Tickhill Church of England Mixed School was one of the first schools to celebrate Empire Day before 1916. The first reference in the School’s Log Books is in 1911, the celebrations, however, were low key: after prayers the National Anthem was sung and there were three cheers for the King and the Empire; lessons were not strictly to timetable and there was extra singing, at 3.30pm the children assembled in boys’ yard, sang the National Anthem and were then dismissed. This set the pattern for future celebrations, which were extended to include patriotic songs, ‘saluting the flag’ and lessons on the meaning and significance of Empire Day; extra long playtimes and a country walk instead of afternoon lessons were extra treats.


It is not clear whether Empire Day was celebrated every year, as there are only four further references, all in the 1920s, in the Log Books up to 1946; some years May 24 fell during the Whitsuntide holiday, but in others, although the children were at school, there is no mention of the event being celebrated.


The same pattern occurs at the Infants School, the first celebration was in 1912, when the children went into the yard, marched around, saluted the flag, then formed a circle and sang the National Anthem, after which all received sweets and were given a long playtime. There are no further reports until the 1930s, when the celebrations included maypole dancing and one of the children representing Britannia. 

In 1958, Empire Day was renamed Commonwealth Day; it is celebrated on the second Monday in March.   

Peace 1919

National discussions to decide how to mark the end of the Great War began in May 1919; however the proposal to hold a single day of celebrations on Saturday, July 19 was not without controversy as some people thought the money spent could be put to better use supporting injured servicemen and high levels of unemployment. 

Tickhill’s Peace celebrations began on Friday, July 18 with tea parties for the children and over 70 elderly people in the Public Library. Early Saturday morning the church bells rang out, and by 9am people had gathered at the Butter Cross to hear Tickhill Jubilee Brass Band, under the baton of Corporal Clarkson, playing patriotic songs, before the presentation of medals to the children by the ladies of the events committee. An hour later, a procession of soldiers and sailors, under the command of Major Cartwright, the Police, Special Constables, the Fire Brigade and other public bodies assembled at the Butter Cross before parading to a packed St Mary’s for a service of thanksgiving. 

After lunch, a ‘great procession in character costume’ turned Tickhill’s streets into a riot of colour and dancing, with tableaux including a Red Indian encampment, the King in his robes, a captive Kaiser, decorated prams and a comic Jazz Band taking part; a ‘gallop past’ by the horse drawn fire engine caused considerable excitement. Tea for 281 soldiers and sailors, together with their wives and mothers, was served both inside and outside the Public Library. 

A comic cricket match and ‘amusing’ sports’ events, which included a bolster fight up a vertical pole, were held on the cricket field in the evening, followed by dancing, which was suddenly interrupted by a heavy rain. A torchlight procession and the lighting of Dover flares, however, defied the downpour bringing a day of celebration to a close. 

King George V’s Silver Jubilee 1935

‘Tickhill people were up bright and early on Monday finishing their decoration of the streets and houses. The early morning sunshine tempted people to bring out more flags and festoons … … and shops were soon sold out of materials for decoration. The church bells rang merrily for an hour from seven o’ clock.’ This was Doncaster Chronicle’s description of early morning preparations on May 6, 1935 – Silver Jubilee Day! It was to be a day of triple celebrations - incorporating the crowning of the May Queen and the formal opening of the new playing fields.  

Both schools were closed for the two days of celebrations; three days earlier, Mr & Mrs Dixon had presented the Infants with Jubilee pencils, and bank books with a one shilling deposit – the gift of West Riding County Council; the Dixons promised an extra 6d to each child with a Jubilee bank book, and a cheque to cover this had been given to the Headmistress.  

The day’s official events began at 11am, when a large procession, comprised of members of the Urban District Council, the Royal Ancient Order of Buffalos, the Druids, the British Legion, Girl Guides, schoolchildren and representatives of organisations in the village, once again led by Tickhill Jubilee Brass Band, left the School and wound its way around the village to the church. An impressive service of thanksgiving was led by the vicar, the Rev. J.M. Shaw, with the address being given by Archdeacon Folliott Sandford, a former vicar of Doncaster Parish Church, who was now resident at Leahurst on Sunderland Street. On leaving the Church the children were presented with souvenir mugs from Mrs Shaw, Mrs Sandford, Mr H.G. Atkinson-Clark, Chairman of Tickhill Urban District Council and Mr Hugh Brooksbank of Sandrock House. 

After lunch, a procession of the May Queen, her attendants, together with three decorated drays carrying the Infant children and tableaux left the School for the crowning ceremony at the Butter Cross, which was draped in red, white and blue and was ablaze with Union Jacks; a large crowd of spectators watched Mrs J M Shaw, the vicar’s wife crown Joan Spooner, Queen of the May. The procession, then, re-grouped and paraded to the new playing fields, which were formally opened by Mr H. G. Atkinson-Clark, who described them as ‘ a place to keep them [the children of the town] out of mischief and out of danger as well’; this was followed by Maypole and country dancing, recitations and songs. Tea for the children, the aged, the bellringers, members of the Band and the unemployed was served in the Wesleyan Schoolroom and the Public Library. 

The evening events began with organised games, followed by a fancy dress football match: the Vicar, dressed in a scarlet uniform, was the referee. At dusk the Butter Cross and the front of the Library were illuminated in red, white and blue; a torch light procession and a huge bonfire in Mr Newborn’s field on Doncaster Road brought a great and memorable day to an end. 

Coronation of King George Vl 1937

Following the death of George V and the abdication of Edward VIII in 1936, the nation had a new king  - George VI, and once again, to quote the Doncaster Gazette, ‘the old town of Tickhill had an ambitious programme’ for the Coronation festivities on Wednesday, May 12, 1937.  As was usual on such occasions, the day began with a ‘joyous peal of bells’ and was followed by a procession of school children and members of public organisations to a service at St Mary’s, after which the children were presented with souvenir plates or beakers by Mr and Mrs Newborn, Mrs H.S. Jarvis, Mrs McGill and Mrs Wigginton. The service had been timed to end at 10.45am – just before the start of coronation ceremony itself, and loudspeakers had been placed in the church so people could listen to the service broadcast on the radio direct from Westminster Abbey. 

Once again it had been decided to combine May Day and Coronation day celebrations, however rain in the afternoon curtailed some events, but the crowning of the May Queens took place at the Butter Cross as planned.  The procession of the retiring Queens, led by Tickhill Boys’ Club Jazz Band, left the School and paraded along Castlegate to the Butter Cross, followed by the new May Queens and a procession of children in national and historical dress. Despite the rain a large crowd gathered to watch Mrs Nupton, the wife of the temporary headmaster, crown Audrey Stubbings, the new Senior Queen, and Miss Guest, the sister of the Headmistress, perform a similar duty for the Infants’ Queen, Doreen Taylor.  

A ‘meat tea’ for 400 was served in the Public Library, which was also the evening venue for a dance organised by the British Legion with Deakin’s String Band providing the music. Although a comic football match had to be abandoned due to the weather, the lighting of the bonfire in Mr Newborn’s field at Eastfield in the evening went ahead, attended by the Jazz Band and hundreds of people. 

The cost of the celebrations was defrayed by a house-to house collection, which had raised over £70. The following Monday, souvenir spoons, the gift of the West Riding County Council, were distributed to children at the Infant and Senior Schools; the County Council also distributed 17 pairs of boots amongst the infant children.  

VE Day May 8, 1945

 On Tuesday, May 8, 1945, after almost six years of war, the street lights came on, blackout curtains were taken down and the village of Tickhill was lavishly decorated with flags and bunting, especially the Butter Cross. Which was described as ‘a striking feature, draped in red, white and blue and topped with the Union Jack’. VE Day  - ‘Victory in Europe’ was a time for celebrations! 

The following day, a short thanksgiving service, conducted by the vicar the Rev. Cook, marked the beginning a week of festivities including numerous street parties. Dances were held every evening in the week: the special one being the Victory Dance in the Public Library on Tuesday night; at midnight the orchestra moved outside and a large crowd spilled into Castlegate and Market Place to enjoy more dancing and community singing until 2pm. The final dance, organised by the Methodist Church Choir, was held in the Public Library by on Saturday, with the proceeds of £13.10s. being donated to Worksop Hospital. 

A full service of thanksgiving was held on Sunday attended by the Police and ‘Specials’, members of the Civil Defence and Home Guard, Boy Scouts and Cubs, Girl Guides and Brownies, the Women’s Voluntary Service, the British Legion and British Legion’s Women’s Section, who had all paraded from the Butter Cross. All these events were, in turn, to be a ‘dress rehearsal’ for similar celebrations to be held in later in the year. 

VJ Day August 15, 1945

Although there had been joyous celebrations to mark the end of the war in Europe, for British servicemen fighting in the Far East and the Pacific it would be another four months before their war was over. VJ Day – ‘Victory over Japan’ finally brought World War II to an end, and once again there was great rejoicing: flags, bunting and streamers decorated the village, a cricket match was hastily arranged for the afternoon and the ‘Welcome Home Fund’ organised a dance in the Public Library. In the evening the Market Place was floodlit, gramophone records were broadcast and dancing around the Butter Cross continued until the early hours of the morning.  

The following day, 60 children from the Old Chapel on Sunderland Street enjoyed a day trip to Roche Abbey, and tea parties for children and the elderly were held in the Public Library; despite rationing, there was a surplus of food donated, which was taken to the sick and the very elderly. In the evening a bonfire was lit on the playing fields by Councillor March of the Urban District Council, and the women’s section of the British Legion organised a dance. 

The re-appearance, after many years, of the Town Crier or ‘bellman’ added to the enjoyment of the festivities. 

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth ll 1953

Weeks of planning had gone into Tickhill’s Coronation celebrations, which began on Coronation eve, Monday, June 1 with separate tea parties for seniors, infants and juniors and pre-school children, when everyone received commemorative mugs. 

Coronation day, itself, began with the celebration of Holy Communion and a quarter-peal of 1, 264 changes, which was composed, performed and conducted by Mr F Jackson, together with his team of bell ringers.   No further events appear to have been arranged until the evening, possibly to allow people to watch the Coronation broadcast live on BBC television; throughout the country, sales of television sets had soared and an estimated 20 million people are thought to have watched the ceremony.  Unfortunately the evening programme of the tableaux and procession had to be postponed due to the weather, however a few tableaux, including the Boys’ Club Band mounted on the Council’s refuse lorry, did brave the rain and toured the town. Dancing around the Butter Cross was due to follow, and this now took place in the Library. The bonfire and fireworks’ display, again scheduled for the evening, were postponed until Thursday, as was the tradesmen’s versus the Cricket club fancy dress cricket match.  

Thursday was also the date for the over-60s tea party in the Library, which was followed by a display of Morris dancing and a film show. (The elderly residents of the Maison Dieu, however, had had a surprise Coronation day lunch sent to each cottage by Mrs Hocking of Sunderland Street.) The festivities continued with the children’s sport on Saturday and, finally almost three weeks after Coronation Day, the postponed Coronation tableaux and procession was held on Saturday, June 20.


(The photographs which relate to this topic are in the Gallery)

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