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Joan Leach was a local historian, a volunteer at the Heritage Centre, a founder of The Gaskell Society, and much more besides.


February 1901

Joan Leach

Guardian advertisement 1901All the churches were holding memorial services for Queen Victoria and Saturday February 2nd was declared a day of general mourning with businesses and banks closed; shops put up their shutters from 2 to 4 pm. On 1st Feb. outside Chester town Hall, 'appropriately decorated in mourning style' the Mayor read, as the Cathedral bells tolled, a proclamation addressed 'To our loving friends, the Mayor of the city of Chester . . . and finished in stentorian tones 'God Save the King . . . 'As the trumpet call faded cathedral lay clerks led the singing of the National anthem'. Great was the effect of the changed words on the 15,000 who were present. As Lord Lieutenant, Earl Egerton sent a letter of condolence and congratulations to the King.

In Knutsford there was a procession from Manchester Road to the Parish Church representing the Police, Volunteer Rifle Brigade, Councillors, firemen, Knutsford and Cross Town band, Foresters and other Friendly Societies, the Grammar School teachers and pupils.

The Foresters cheered themselves up by holding their annual ball in 13th February at The Town Hall from 8.30pm to 4.00am. Knutsford Parish Church Association Football club also held a dance. Cross Town Working Men's Club deplored the loss of the Queen who had taken such interest in trying to improve their lot.

St Helen's Church, Northwich, sought permission to install electric lighting and also to erect a bicycle shed. Cycling had increased greatly in popularity in the last 15 years, when it had been looked down on by the upper classes Queen Victoria gave it her approval by ordering a tricycle ( I doubt whether any pictures survive!!) and the new King and Queen had enjoyed it before motor cars took over. Mobberley Ploughing match had to be postponed three times because of adverse weather and the month had started with a hurricane hail and snow.





Guardian advertisements 1901  


There was debate as to whether the King should wear a crown when opening Parliament on 14th February when he had not yet been crowned. Precedent was quoted when George the second had done so in 1727.

And would the Coronation procession include the King's champion? Traditionally a member of the Dymock family since Edward III's time had appeared as a knight in armour to fight anyone who challenged the new king. The city of London had purchased the old suit to preserve it. Knutsford May Day had a Cheshire champion in many of its processions.

King Edward showed some disposition to act in a more regal way by leasing his racing stud to the Duke of Devonshire but did not give up his love of racing entirely. It was hoped that 'his Majesty will be a more patron of literature and the arts than was the late Queen' was the sentiment voiced by Holman Hunt at the unveiling of a memorial to Ruskin.