How Capel Planned for 

the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II ...

In May 2023 Capel held various events to celebrate the coronation of the country's new monarch King Charles III. 

With access to the newspaper archives of 1953, it is fascinating to see how Capel prepared for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II some 70 years earlier. Below are extracts from the local newspaper coverage of the time showing how plans were made and the problems that befell them both before and on the big day.

From The Kent & Sussex Courier - Friday 03 April 1953


Because it is feared that the attraction of television on Coronation Day might deter helpers from preparing teas, Capel parish has decided to hold its celebrations on Saturday June 6, instead of on Coronation Day itself.

It has also been agreed to provide teas for everybody, not merely for the old people and the schoolchildren as at first intended. 

At a parish meeting at the schools on Thursday, representatives of the Women's Institute, who had agreed to help with the teas, stated that many members would not be willing to spend the entire morning of the Coronation Day preparing teas for the whole population.

This would involve several hours' work and members would have to forego the Coronation ceremony on television.

If the date of the Capel festivities could be changed, members would be prepared to help with teas for the whole parish.

The Chairman, Sir Henry dAvigdor Goldsmid, said that such an undertaking would need the support of everybody. "Television has entirely changed the situation since the last Coronation." he added.  

One resident recalled that the entire parish had been supplied with tea in 1937. and that at the moment there was some feeling in the district because present plans provided for only for the old people and children of school age. 

Street parties had already been tentatively planned for the Saturday after the Coronation but it was suggested that the organisers of these might be asked to postpone them if the parish as a whole agreed to arrange the general celebrations on that day.

The meeting, agreeing to the change of date, also proposed that funds should be raised by a house-to-house collection. Envelopes would be delivered at each house in the parish during April and collected on May 2.

More details emerged of the Capel's plans two weeks later after the Coronation committees had met to deliberate further on their ideas as the following article reveals.

From the Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser - Friday 17 April 1953

Best decorated house to win - £5 Capel's C-Day plans

 TEAS and sports for all, a carnival procession for the children, a comic football match, an open-air dance and a competition for the best-decorated house are to be the main features of the Coronation celebrations in Capel parish. House decorations are to be judged on the day after the Coronation, the remainder of the events to take place on Saturday, June 6. 


It is still hoped that arrangements may be made for the celebrations to open with a short service, although it was reported that the vicar (the Rev. J. B. O. George) had not consented to conduct a service on the grounds that it would have lost its point unless held on Coronation day itself. 

The meeting agreed that both the vicar and the Congregational minister should be approached by the committee, since it seemed desirable for Capel's celebrations, in common with those of most other villages, to open with a service.

About 500 printed programmes are to be issued with lucky numbers, and funds are to be raised by a house-to-house collection, the printed envelopes to be collected by the Boy Scouts of the parish by May 4. 

Prizes of special Coronation medallions and other trophies are to be given to the sports winners in the children's classes, and a prize of £5 will be awarded for the best decorated house. 

Committee members responsible for the individual arrangements are: Teas, Mrs. Tolhurst and Mrs. Pemble; sports, Mr. I. Ellis ; carnival. Mrs. E. Smith; dance, Miss; Passey. Mr. Stainer and the Tennis Club. 

In a follow up to the debate about when a service would be held and the vicar's initial comments on the matter, clarification was obviously sought directly with the Rev. J. B. O. George as the article below confirms:

From The Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser - Friday 1 May 1953

The Vicar was Misunderstood 

The Rev. J. B. O. George, vicar of Tudeley, has denied that he told Capel Coronation celebrations committee he would definitely not be prepared to conduct a special service on the Saturday after Coronation Day. He has written to Sir Henry d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, chairman of the committee. The letter will be considered at the next committee meeting. Mr. George told the 'Courier', "I did not understand I was giving a definite decision. When people meet you in the street and ask you what you think you give your first impressions. Of course they can have a service if they want one."

At the last Coronation committee meeting a fortnight ago it was said that the vicar, "had not consented to conduct a service on the grounds that it would have lost its point unless held on Coronation Day itself.". The meeting agreed that the vicar should be approached again as well as the Congregational minister.