George III’s Golden Jubilee

Today’s guests are authors Sarah Murden and Joanne Major. They have chosen to write about King George III’s golden jubilee:

King George III was 71 years of age and had reigned longer than any British monarch since Edward III some four centuries earlier. It was a momentous occasion but technically, as was pointed out at the time, 25th October 1809 marked the beginning of the fiftieth year of King George III’s reign – he ascended to the throne upon the death of his grandfather on that day in 1760 – and so the jubilee of 1809 celebrated his forty-nine years on the throne.

George III. Royal Collection Trust.

In our latest book, “A Georgian Heroine,” Charlotte was acknowledged to be the chief instigator of the celebrations for George III’s golden jubilee, it was she who, with the help of her acquaintances within the government arranged for anonymous letters to be sent out to the whole country and wrote anonymous letters to the newspapers to rally people to celebrate such a momentous occasion – she got the year wrong, it should have been 1810, as certain newspaper picked up on, but the event went ahead nevertheless. So, we thought it might be interesting to look at the food eaten on this day.

We know that the ‘great and the good’ enjoyed lavish banquets as part of the national celebrations and the likes of the military, for example the Welsh Brigade, ‘dined on roast beef followed by plum pudding’. (Roast beef and plum pudding seems to have been very much the order of the day for many participants, in fact.) The officers of the Welsh Brigade were above such common fare. They partook of ‘the most elegant dinner, consisting of turbot, turtle, venison and every other delicacy the season could afford’.

At Frogmore House, Queen Charlotte’s country retreat near Windsor a fête was held for over 1,000 guests with fireworks, illuminations, a water pageant and an elegant supper. The aging king, almost blind and in poor health, was not able to attend but Princess Elizabeth designed a temple which was erected temporarily on the island in the lake on the estate, and inside was a portrait of George III.

A Jubilee at Frogmore, 1809, after Matthew Cotes Wyatt. Royal Collection Trust.

But what about your average person? Worry not, they were not ignored. The majority were given the day off to join in with the celebrations, as this account in the Chester Chronicle of October 27th, 1809 bears testament to. We all love a good BBQ and clearly so did those Georgians!

An ox, the gift of John Egerton, Esq. one of the representatives of the city, which had been slaughtered for the purpose of being roasted whole on this occasion, was paraded on Tuesday evening, ready spitted, with horns and tail gilt, and decorated with ribbons, through the principal streets of the city. The carcass was mounted on a 4-wheel carriage, fitted up for the purpose and drawn by three horses, behind the beast. On the same carriage rode the butcher, with knife drawn, thus the procession ascended accompanied by a great concourse, to the Tower Field, near the walls of the city, where a building had been erected for the purpose of roasting him it consisted of a back and two side walls of brick, betwixt which was a grate was inserted 11 feet long and 5 high, and contained an immense quantity of fuel; the fire was lighted at 2 and the ox put down to roast at 8 o’clock on Tuesday evening, by 12 the next day it was as well roasted as any joint of meat could have been done by the most experience cook. It was then taken down and run up a railway consisting of 2 barks, by means of wheels fixed on the ends of the spit, to a large stage in the form of a table, elevated about five feet from the ground – here the body was carved in great style; rumps, rounds and sirloins, smoking hot. At the same time four hogsheads of old beer were brought down to the ground and distributed to the multitude; this proved much stronger than the ox!

Roast Beef of Old England, James Lobley. Courtesy of Bradford Museums and Galleries.

Finally, we thought that you might enjoy a simple recipe to try at home for plum pudding courtesy of The London Art of Cookery and Housekeeper’s Complete Assistant, 1811.

Cut a pound of suet into little pieces, but not too fine, a pound of currants washed and clean, a pound of raisins stoned, eight egg yolks and four whites, half a nutmeg grated, a teaspoonful of beaten ginger, a pound of flour and a pint of milk. Beat the eggs first, then put to them half the milk, and beat them together and by degrees stir in the flour, then the suet, spice and fruit, as much milk as will mix it well together very thick. It will take five hours boiling.

A Country Kitchen, William Collins. Courtesy of V&A.

If you would like to visit and learn more about Sarah and Joanne’s website, All Things Georgian, click here to be transported. To connect with them on twitter, click here for Sarah and here for Joanne.

“A Georgian Heroine”

Sarah and Joann are authors of several books, including “A Right Royal Scandal” and their latest book, “A Georgian Heroine,” of which a brief summary follows:

Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs lived an incredible life, one which proved that fact is often much stranger than fiction. As a young woman she endured a tortured existence at the hands of a male tormentor, but emerged from that to reinvent herself as a playwright and author; a political pamphleteer and a spy, working for the British Government and later single-handedly organizing George III’s jubilee celebrations. Trapped in France during the revolutionary years of 1792-95, she published an anonymous account of her adventures. However, was everything as it seemed? The extraordinary Mrs Biggs lived life upon her own terms in an age when it was a man’s world, using politicians as her mouthpiece in the Houses of Parliament and corresponding with the greatest men of the day. Throughout it all though, she held on to the ideal of her one youthful true love, a man who abandoned her to her fate and spent his entire adult life in India. This is the bizarre but true story of an astounding woman persevering in a man’s world.





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