1863; Royal Wedding celebrations at Osmington village.

On the 10th March 1863, Prince Albert Edward, otherwise know as Bertie married the pretty young Danish Princess Alexandra.

Bertie was the eldest son of Victoria and Albert and up till then had a certain reputation for enjoying the highlife and scandalous dalliances, much to his parents disgrace.

The couple were married in St George’s chapel at Windsor, but what was different was that this was to be a grand, public affair, unusual at the time for royalty, they normally liked to conduct their weddings behind closed doors and at night.

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The public took this royal celebration to heart, all around the country every town, village and hamlet in the land organised and held their own wedding party to rejoice in the marriage.

Osmington was one such village.

They had decided to hold theirs on the Tuesday after the event.

It was arranged that young Edward Chilcott and his wife Elizabeth whose farm was in the village would  hold the party on their land, they had a large barn that would fit everyone from the village and surrounding area in comfortably.

Everybody in the village chipped in to help prepare for the big day. Elizabeth Lidderdale, whose Dad was the Chief coastguard at Osmington mills at that time gathered her friends together, they spent hours decorating out the barn with  stars, mottos and Prince of Wales feathers. Flags were hung around the edges, adding a very patriotic feel to the occasion.

Excitement reached a fever pitch that afternoon as 200 odd adults from the village made their way across the field towards the cavernous barn. Everyone who could was there that afternoon, old George White and his wife Mary, George had spent most of his life working the land, John and Sarah Fooks, who ran the grocers in the village, William and Mary Paull, the local thatcher, along with their married son William with his wife Mary who lived just down the road from them, he had followed in his fathers footsteps working in the family business. Even the local policeman and his wife, Stephen and Mary Ann Bond made an appearance. Most of these rural folk were simple hard working people, agricultural labourers, carters, and carpenters, but they took any opportunity they could to enjoy themselves, life was hard, you took what little fun you could get. Inside the barn was gaily decked out, long wooden trestle tables, benches and chairs ready in place to accommodate them all. At 2.30 the party began.

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Many of the village women had been busy earlier that day in their kitchens baking…out came a procession of steaming hot beef pies, their meaty aroma filling the air, turning hungry mouths moist with anticipation, they were accompanied with all the trimmings…followed by good old traditional plum pudding. Huge jugs of cider sat on the tables, but not for long… a party was meant to be enjoyed!

The children had been at school that day, but they weren’t going to miss out, at 4.30 they were led to the barn, all 120 of them from the local village school. They had a special space set aside for them in the barn, once the excited, chattering crowd of children had been seated out came a mountain of sandwiches and cakes.Image

In amongst the constant chattering of the adults and the happy laughter of the children was the sound of music, Mr Stagg and his volunteer band had set up in the corner, through out the feasting they  played their merry tunes, once everyone had finished eating it was time to get up and dance. As the day had turned wet outside, the fun and games were held inside, but that wasn’t a problem, the barn was big enough…laughter and shouting, what a great time they were all having, time to catch up with friends and neighbours for a gossip, the men sat contentedly puffing on their pipes, putting the world to rights.

Then came the usual speeches, a toast raised to the Queen and the happy couple on their marriage, to those who had worked so hard to organise and set up the fun filled afternoon.

The days celebrations weren’t over yet, it was rounded off with a grand firework display set up in the grounds of Osmington House owned by Major Wood.

Later that evening the men women and children of the village drifted their way home, bade their neighbours goodnight as one by one the families ducked into the doorways of their cottages.

It had been a  happy, fun filled day that was long remembered by young and old alike of the village.

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