As the United Kingdom celebrates the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, it’s an opportunity to see how similar occasions have been marked in Wales in the past.
A number of monuments were built throughout Britain to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of George III in 1809, including the Arch near Devil’s Bridge, Ceredigion, which was built for Thomas Johnes, book collector and owner of the Hafod Press. A Jubilee Tower was built on the summit of Moel Famau, Flintshire, which is described in A history of the Jubilee Tower on Moel Fammau in North Wales by R.J. Edwards. Both these monuments still stand today. The Church of England (which included churches in Wales at that time) published special forms of prayer, in Welsh and English, to give thanks for half a century of the King’s reign.
Similar forms of prayer were published in 1887 for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, and a thanksgiving service was held in St. Peter’s Church, Carmarthen, with a sermon by the Bishop of St. David’s. A decade later, Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee. One of the books published to mark the occasion was The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee: illustrated record of Her Majesty’s reign and descriptive sketch of Aberdare, 1837-1897.
The collection given to the National Library by Miss Margaret Davies of Gregynog, near Newtown, includes a unique record of the Silver Jubilee of George V in 1935. A book was given to Miss Davies and her sister Gwendoline by members of the Montgomery County choirs who sang in the presence of the King and Queen in the Royal Albert Hall, to thank the sisters for their support. The book is signed by members of the choirs and beautifully bound.
The next Silver Jubilee was that of the present Queen. I remember as a child standing at the side of the road when she and the Duke of Edinburgh were returning from a thanksgiving service in Llandaff Cathedral in 1977. An attractive bilingual booklet was printed containing the order of service. A quarter of century later the Queen celebrated her Golden Jubilee, and amongst the year’s events she and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the Festival of Youth in Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay. A bilingual booklet was published to celebrate the visit.
I wonder what historical records will be added to our collections after this year’s celebrations?
Rare Books Librarian
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