These are the key events to have happened in the city of Bristol surrounding the Proclamation of each King and Queen to the throne.
The Proclamation of King Edward VII
The first Proclamation of the 20th Century begun with King Edward VII in 1901, after the death of the late Queen Victoria. Before her death, Victoria I was successfully in her sixty fourth year of her reign at the grand age of 82.
Queen Victoria I captured the hearts of many people, and so this sad event caused a great deal of sorrow and regret to the nation. Because of this great sense of mourning felt around the world, a jubilant celebration for King Edward VII was unfortunately out of the question.
However, all those invited to the proclamation were asked to assemble at The Exchange at 1.30pm and be in form by 1.45pm.
2:00pm – The first Proclamation was read at The Council House (first opened by Queen Victoria), where the procession then made their way on foot via Wine Street and Union Street to Horsefair.
2:20pm – The second Proclamation was read at Horsefair. The procession then made their way via Nelson Street, Colston Avenue and St Augustine’s Parade to College Green.
2.40pm – The third Proclamation was read at High Cross. The procession then made their way via St Augustines Parade, Broad Quay and Prince Street to Queen Square.
3:00pm – The final Proclamation was read at the King William Statue and proceeded back to The Exchange.
Originally, the Proclamation was carried on poles on men’s shoulders, but in 1830 it was fitted with loops to hang on a perch carriage which was drawn by horses. This way of carrying the Proclamation had been used since George IV in 1820, William IV in 1830 and Queen Victoria in 1837. It was then brought back out after being refitted to be used for the Proclamation of King Edward. It was an oddly shaped wooden platform, surmounted with a crown on a cushion. The design was studded with brass nails, with the name of the monarch on a scroll.
The Proclamation of King George V
The Proclamation of King George V, after the death of Edward VII took place on Saturday 14th May, 1910 at 2.30pm in Bristol. All those invited to the Proclamation were asked to assemble at The Exchange at 2.30pm and be in form by 2.45pm.
3:00pm – The first Proclamation took place at the junction of High Street, Corn Street, Broad Street and Wine Street. The procession then proceeded along Wine Street, Union Street, Lower Union Street, The Haymarket and St James Churchyard to the north corner of the Haymarket Pleasure Ground opposite Bond Street where the second Proclamation was made.
3:20pm – The second Proclamation took place at Horsefair. The procession then made their way along Bridewell Street, Nelson Street, Colston Avenue and St. Augustine’s Parade to College Green, where they entered the green via the north-west corner opposite Park Street where the third Proclamation was made.
3.40pm – The third Proclamation was made at the High Cross, facing the Queen’s statue in College Green.
This statue originally stood at the junction of High Street, Broad Street, Wine Street and Corn Street before residents of Bristol protested that such a large object surrounded by iron railings and steps was considered not just a nuisance, but also an obstruction in such a busy street. After being moved around Bristol and consistently being deemed a nuisance, it was given away. In 1888 a new version was moved to College Green due to the requirement of a statue of Queen Victoria that needed to be erected. This is where the third Proclamation was made in 1910. However, in the 20th Century it once again became a problem and was banished to Berkeley Square in Clifton. Only the top section is now on view.
4:00pm – Finally, the fourth Proclamation was made at the King William Statue, facing the Bristol Docks office. To finish, the procession made their way through Queen Charlotte Street, Baldwin Street and High Street back to the Council House.
The flags on the Council House, Museum and Art Gallery and the Docks Committee building, The Exchange and the Guildhall were all flown at full mast at 2pm on the day of the Proclamation after hanging drearily at half mast for a week prior, and were kept in this position until sunset, when they were then flown again at half mast. However, the black shutters on shop windows and touches of personal mourning amongst the crowd for King Edward were still understandably felt.
See here for more information on why the flags are flown at full and half mast.
The invite to the proclamation read as (right image):
‘After our hearty commendations. It having pleased Almighty God to take His mercy out of this troublesome life our Late Sovereign Lord King Edward the Seventh of Blessed Memory: and thereupon his Royal Majesty King George the Fifth being here proclaimed according to the tenor of the Proclamation signed by us herewith sent unto you We do hereby will and require you forthwith to cause the said Proclamation to be proclaimed and published in the usual places within your jurisdiction with the Solemnities and Ceremonies accustomed on the like occasion, and so, not doubting of your ready compliance herein, We bid you heartily farewell.’
Those invited to take part in the procession were as follows:
The Society of Merchant Venturers
The Chamber of Commerce
The Bristol Board of Guardians
The Bristol Charity Trustees
The Society of St. Stephens Ringers
The Foreign Consuls
After every Proclamation, the band of the Gloucester Field Artillery would break the silence with the sounds of the National Anthem, with thousands of voices harmonising together to the familiar tune. Immediately after the band finished playing, the incumbents of these churches were requested to ring the bells:
All Saints and Christ Church during the 1st Proclamation at 3pm – the bells also had to be rung intermittently from 2.30pm – 2.50pm
St James Church at the 2nd Proclamation at 3.20pm
Lord Mayor’s Chapel at the 3rd Proclamation at 3.40pm
St Mary Redcliffe at the 4th Proclamation at 4.00-5.00pm
The Proclamation of King Edward VIII
King Edward VIII was arguably the most popular Prince of Wales Britain had ever had at this moment in time. Therefore the people of Britain were understandably very upset when Edward abdicated from the throne a mere six months later. This was due to the woman Edward stated he wanted crowned alongside him at his Coronation the following May – Mrs. Wallis Simpson. Mrs. Simpson was an American, twice divorcee lady with two husbands still living, which was unacceptable to the Church.
Edward’s brother, George VI took the throne in favour and Edward VIII moved abroad and took the new title of Duke of Windsor instead.
The Proclamation of King George VI
The Proclamation of King George VI, alongside his wife Queen Elizabeth (The Queen’s Mother) took place on 12th December 1937. The Lord Mayor had to tour the city of Bristol in a curious device that was apparently based on a pantomime coach, whilst reading the notice to the gathered crowd. The photograph (right) shows the Lord Mayor outside the old Council House in Corn Street.
The other photograph (below) shows the Lord Mayor above the pantomime coach, alongside the ceremonial police guard whom were equipped with protective maces.
The Proclamation of Queen Elizabeth II
Do you have any beloved memories of the late Queen Elizabeth II on her visits to the City of Bristol? We would love to see these! Any photographs or videos you may have, please get in touch via the contact form below to be featured on the website.