Search This Blog

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Chester's Bid for City of Culture 2017

Chester has launched its bid to become UK City of Culture in 2017.  You can find out more and show your support for the bid here.

The city is packed with amazing history to explore, such as its Roman amphitheatre and its unique Rows, and I wish it all the best for its bid.
Images: Watergate St, Chester.

Stranger’s Companion in Chester, 4th edition, c. 1828.

The Rows on Bridge St. © Sue Wilkes.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Funeral for a Hero and Prime Minister

Following the news that Lady Thatcher, one of the most divisive prime ministers of modern times, is to receive a ceremonial funeral with military-style honours, I thought it would be interesting to look at the arrangements for the funeral of the Duke of Wellington, who twice served as prime minister.  

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, saved England (and Europe) from Napoleon’s overweening ambition, and survived Waterloo and the Peninsular Wars.  Wellington was England’s darling when he returned from his amazing victory of June 1815, but his political career was dogged by controversy, notably owing to his uncompromising stance on parliamentary reform.  The Great Reform Bill of 1832 was passed despite his opposition, which earned him some boos at the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway two years earlier.

At Wellington’s funeral on 18 November 1852, however, there was a massive turnout to see the final journey of one of England’s greatest military commanders.  Thousands of people paid their respects in silence as they watched the procession, which included a soldier from every one of the queen’s regiments.  The hearse was escorted by cavalry, six battalions of infantry, military bands including the Scots Fusilier and Coldstream Guards, nine guns (field artillery), eight guns of horse artillery. Prince Albert was in attendance, too. The huge funeral carriage was the same one used for Lord Nelson’s procession.  Very fittingly, Wellington was laid to rest by Nelson in St Paul’s Cathedral.

The expense of the funeral caused a debate in parliament. You can see some illustrations from the Illustrated London News of Wellington’s funeral here on the Victorian Web.  There’s a full description of the ‘order of proceeding’ of the funeral procession here on Google books.   John Drew's'Biographical Sketch of the Military and Political Career of the Late Duke of Wellington, Including the Most Interesting Particulars of His Death, Lying in State, and Public Funeral’ (1852) describes the day of the funeral, too.
Images:Wellington and Napoleon:.History of England Vol. VII, (London, c. 1868.)
The Edge Hill Tunnel entrance on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, Penny Magazine, 31 March 1833. Both images from the author's collection.