A birthday card from Prince George

This delightful drawing was sent to Fanny Kingsley on June 1875  several months after CK’s death. Its author was Prince George, second son  of Edward VII and who later became George V in 1910.  He wrote this card on his tenth birthday.

The card shows  the close relationship CK had with the Royal family which was possibly the reason why Alexandra,  the Queen Mother,  was at the top of the list of patrons of the 1919 Eversley pageant.

Andromeda – a choral work

Cyril Rootham. English composer. Fellow of St John’s College Cambridge. Trained at the Royal College of Music

One of the events planned for the festival is a performance of Andromeda, a choral work of 1300 bars composed in 1903 by Cyril Rootham ( 1875 -1938)   and based on CK’s poem, Andromeda.

This is a substantial choral work and local schools and choral societies will be invited to take part. It will be the first time the work has been performed in over 100 years.
One idea we have is to involve schools in following the process of bringing this  historical manuscript to life. From typesetting the score, interpretation, rehearsals, through to the final performance.

Read more about Cyril Rootham here

The Duke of Wellington

We are also delighted to announce  the Duke of Wellington has agreed to be  a supporter of the Charles Kingsley 200 project. The 4th Duke was a patron  of the 1919 Festival Pageant  echoing the  present Duke’s interest in local heritage.

Meeting with Hampshire CC

2/11/17 The Committee: David Lister, Robin Felix, Sharon Elliott, Peter Ormrod and newly appointed Treasurer Graham Fortune, met with Andrew Bateman, Tourism Manager, at the county council offices in Winchester.

Andrew expressed his enthusiasm for the Charles Kingsley 200 project with a promise of support in several areas including marketing and media promotion.

This was a very positive meeting with Hampshire CC clearly behind the project and seeing many positives in it. This is on the tail of the successful media strategy they applied to the Jane Austen 200 celebrations.


A hundred years ago

This medallion*  was struck to commemorate the 1919 celebrations. 

*Courtesy of Margaret Winch, whose mother attended the Pageant and kept this one as a momento. How many of these  silver medallions are still to be found?

Question: can anyone suggest a reason why this medallion might not have been circulated widely?

The 1919 centenary celebration for Charles Kingsley was major event, spanning several days. It attracted participation from local inhabitants in plays, concerts, ballet; with royal patronage and support from the Duke of Wellington and other notables. Extra trains were put on bringing visitors from far and wide to the local station at Winchfield.

 A ballet, The Fish and the Fly,  was performed by The John Tiller Dancing Academy, which was  probably founded by the same John Tiller  who created  the Tiller Girls and contributed to the Ziegfield Follies; the high-kickers of the roaring 20s dance halls on both sides of the Atlantic.
The John Tiller School of Dance including Ballet and Tap training & Modern and Ballroom is now continued by Bernard Tiller.

It seems that a future Village Hall was very much on the minds of the organisers

Epic scale
A photograph of the finale of the “Harvest Home” described as an old Eversley rite. In other words,  a kind of open-air Harvest Festival.

From the 1919 centenary pageant programme courtesy of Margaret Winch (resident of Eversley up to 1945)

Introduction to the festival

The basic proposal, at this early stage and following the inaugural meeting of a group of interested parishioners, is for a festival to celebrate Kingsley’s life and work through talks, activities and exhibitions. This to be held in Eversley during the week that marks 200 years since his birth

Charles Kingsley (CK) enjoyed an intense life of enormous scope, including his authorship of influential children’s books, theological debate (famously with Cardinal Newman), professorship at Cambridge,  reform of worker’s living conditions; the list goes on.

For us living in Eversley,   we hold a  particular interest in his life arising from the shared experienced of living in the same  village and the common appreciation of the countryside and buildings; as well as  benefiting from his legacy with the primary school he founded and worshipping at St. Mary’s where he was rector . All this contributes to the special involvement we have with him which will be manifested in the Festival plans we are embarking on

Peter Ormrod
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The Charles Kingsley 200 Festival,  June 2019, Eversley

Charles Kingsley was born on 12th June 1819, the same year as Queen Victoria. He was the Rector of Eversley from 1844 until his death in 1875. Before the Welfare State the care of an English country Parish depended to a large extent on the character of the Rector and Kingsley was unique in his passion for the physical and spiritual welfare of his Eversley and Bramshill parishioners. He is remembered locally in the name the Charles Kingsley Primary School in Eversley which he founded in 1853, long before 1870 when free education was introduced at national level. (In Kingsley’s day the pupils were charged 2 pennies a week).

He was a man of abounding energy and enthusiasms, but with many contradictions and prejudices. From boyhood botany and wild life fascinated him, and he remained an expert on this all his life. He was the author of at least 19 books including the most famous of them, ‘The Water Babies’ based on the life of a child chimney sweep whom he knew personally as an adult. He was Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge from 1861 to 1869 and supported the ideas put forward by Darwin as to the origin of species. He travelled extensively, lecturing in the United States, where he and Rose Kingsley, his eldest daughter, also a botanical authority, picked up the seed for the Californian redwood which now grows in St. Mary’s Church in Eversley. He was tutor to the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. He was a Cannon at Chester Cathedral, where he preached, and also held talks on botany and wild life for which extra trains had to be laid on for the people coming to listen. Later he was made of Canon of Westminster Abbey. He was active and interested in the problems of public health at a time when cholera, typhoid and typhus were still widespread, and ideas about the importance of hygiene were non-existent.

He married Frances Grenfell and their love for each other and their children was an intense affair, directly associated in his mind with Divine love in an unusually direct and passionate way.

A Festival will be held in June 2019 to celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of Charles Kingsley’s birth and we would like ideas and contacts to celebrate the birth and life of this truly remarkable man. Visit the website: charleskingsley200.org.

The Charles Kingsley 200th.