DAVID SAINT: County honours reigns of royalty

Already arrangements for the Platinum Jubilee of our beloved Queen have caught the imagination of her subjects, writes David Saint
The historic stone cross in BrigstockThe historic stone cross in Brigstock
The historic stone cross in Brigstock

Even I have the bunting at the ready!

But for our Queen, it is a first, marking the longest reign. She beats Queen Victoria, but Victoria’s Golden Jubilee was a remarkable achievement, and locally the good people of Long Buckby celebrated in a fitting and patriotic way.

They had a Jubilee Fund.

As it happened, they had a surplus of £11 in the fund and it was decided to refurbish the tired-looking coronation pole that had been erected to commemorate the Queen’s coronation in 1837.

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On June 20, 1887 – Accession Day plus 50 years – the new pole was garlanded with wreaths and flags and a tea for all was held in the Market Square.

Coronation poles were erected in towns and villages all over the country to commemorate the start of a new reign. It began nationwide in 1761 for the coronation of George III.

Northampton erected a pole that year; it was 100 feet tall and stood in the Market Square.

Long Buckby’s pole was also erected in 1761, but towards the end of George III’s long reign the top of the pole fell off. Then George IV came to the throne and, in 1821, a new top was put on it and that one remained throughout the king’s 10-year reign.

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No-one knows why, in 1831, the next king, William IV, didn’t deserve a new pole, but within a very short time, local rioters pulled the Georgian one down in opposition to the Reform Bill.

The copper crown was put on a donkey’s head which was led in procession round the village.

Wooden coronation poles are one thing, but in Brigstock there is a stone cross that has the same function, commemorating royal events. However, the dates on the cross present certain problems.

Whether this cross is unique I know not, but it is certainly the only one in Northamptonshire and is well worth exploring, as is the rest of this breathtakingly beautiful stone village.

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The cross bears several dates and heraldic shields. The first date, E R 1586, marks when it was erected by Roger Montagu, the main landowner in the village, to celebrate the year when Queen Elizabeth I passed through Brigstock, after visiting Apethorpe Palace nearby.

1705 has no local associations; the carved shield shows the Royal arms that were used between 1405 and 1603. The initials AR may signify that Queen Anne passed through the village; she came to the throne in 1702, but there is no record of her visiting the county.

Finally, the date 1887, of course, marks the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

Now, I know it is a historic monument and thus sacred, but would it not be wonderful to add the initials and the date EIIR 2022, or will I be arrested and sent to the Tower?!

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