Very tired after peace celebrations of last evening

22nd July 1919

Attendance low this morning. Children very tired after peace celebrations of last evening. Most of the parents + children taking part in a fancy dress parade + then going to see the bonfire until nearly midnight.

East Ilsley CE School log book (C/EL39/1, p. 491)

Donkeys and drums

Some clergy had reservations about the unbridled nature of the peace celebrations.

July 1919

Vicar’s Letter

The Signing of the Peace will naturally turn the thoughts of many towards the ‘Peace Celebrations,’ proposed to be held on Saturday, July 19th. I do not think I can do better than quote a few sentences from a letter written by the Bishop of Norwich, which was published in The Times on Saturday, June 28th. With regard to organised festivities in connection with the Celebration of Peace, the Bishop fears lest these should bring out the poorer and not the nobler side of a natural outburst of high spirits, and he says:

‘We do not wish to substitute mere excitement for that quiet sense of fellowship with the living and the dead and that sober thanks-giving which ought to be the real notes of such a day. At this time we have to think not only of peace abroad, but also of true peace and good will at home, and no stimulated and unrestrained merrymaking helps to give us these. The expression of our joy should not be inappropriate to the tender and solemn remembrance of those who have fallen in the war, nor regardless of those who are mourning for the desolation of their homes. This is, indeed, an occasion for joy, but elaborated celebrations are costly, and the country is in no financial position, and many chastened people in no frame of mind, to spend large sums on extravagant exhibitions of rejoicing. Much sacrifice has gone before the day of thanks giving, and much sacrifice must follow it if the Peace is to be as great as the war. I venture to suggest that we should concentrate our efforts on giving the children a happy day, as many of us do at Christmas time when we commemorate the birth of the Prince of Peace. This, I believe, while shielding us from the risks of orgies protracted into the night, would evoke what is best in the hearts of all classes, and would make a memorable occasion for the boys and girls upon whom will eventually rest the task of fully working out the problems of the new age which the Peace has brought with it.’

No words could I think express better my own feelings with regard to the ‘Peace Celebrations,’ and I hope they will equally commend themselves to you all.

August 1919

The Vicar’s Letter

I feel that my first duty is to thank most heartily the Members of the Committee, and all others, who rendered such very efficient help in collecting funds, arranging and cutting up for the tea, and in superintending and devising the capital Sports, etc., which gave so much pleasure to our young guests on the occasion of the Peace Celebration. If only it had been a really fine day! The dampness of the unpleasant drizzle had no apparent effect on the spirits and excellent conduct of the children, yet we all felt it would have been so much brighter had the sun shone out. Provision for the tea was ample and much appreciated. The donkeys were quite up-to-date, and behaved as donkeys have ever done at a Children’s Fête! Most grateful were we to Mrs. Young, Mr Reynolds and Mr. Stretch for the loan of them; they were quite a feature in the programme. And what shall be told of the glory of the bonfire, which apparently surpassed in brilliance any other that could be seen far or near! As soon as the gentleman with the drum was satisfied that he had done enough in celebrating Peace, one was able to get to bed about 1.30 a.m.! thankful that all concerned had had a happy day, and may God grant that the occasion for keeping such a day shall never occur again during the life-time of the youngest of those who were present with us!

Cookham Dean parish magazine, July and August 1919 (D/P43B/28A/11)

People in London rather wild

It was understandable after four and a half years of war that some of those celebrating its end behaved badly.

19 November 1918

People in London rather wild. Burnt some of the German guns in bonfire.

Stayed in bed for Dr Moore. Said I could get up. Take it easy. Not go out yet.

Lt Knapman & Hay came about 11. on leave from France. Going to Cologne – army of occupation. They on river in canoe…

Henry to London. Saw guns in St James’ Park.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

“After four years of war we ought to do what we could to make up to the little people for the many ordinary pleasures of childhood which they had necessarily missed”

The Armistice was greeted with joy and celebration in Wargrave.

Victory

The news that the Armistice was signed reached the Wargrave Post Office at almost 11.20 a.m. on Monday November 11th. The Foreman of the Belfry was ready to summon his Ringers and in a very few minutes the bells of the Parish Church rang joyously. The houses were soon bedecked with flags, the village street became full of people and the wounded soldiers marched in procession with noise and merriment. At noon there was a short service for the few who could assemble, but at 7 p.m. there was a general Service of Thanksgiving to Almighty God and the Parish Church was crowded.

The Authorities have permission for the arrangement of public festivities with bonfires and fireworks to be held within one week only of Armistice day. It seemed right to do all that could be done to impress the event upon the memories of the children, and it was felt that after four years of war we ought to do what we could to make up to the little people for the many ordinary pleasures of childhood which they had necessarily missed. But there was no time to call a public meeting to discuss the matter because the only chance of securing provisions was to make the purchases at once. By the hospitality and spirit of Sir William Cain and Mr. Bond the general entertainment of the whole village was happily arranged.

Mr. and Mrs. Bond entertained all the young people under the ages of 18 to tea. The infants met in their own school and were afterwards taken to join the older children in the Piggott School for a magic lantern entertainment. The Boys’ Club, the Girls’ Club, and the other young people had their tea in the District School. The Crazies Hill Children were well provided for in the Mission Hall and Mr. Chenery showed them a good exhibition of lantern slides.

There were many kind helpers and a good many visitors to the tea parties. At each place of entertainment there were a few words spoken to help impress the memories of the young people with the greatness of the occasion and our cause for thankfulness. Mr. Bond, Mr. Huggins, and the Vicar all said something at one place or another, and everywhere there were loud cheers for the host and hostess. It was delightful to see the enjoyment of the children.

The Fireworks were announced to commence at 8 p.m., at the Manor, and the entertainment was for all parishioners. It was a most magnificent display with many set pieces, a host of rockets and a bonfire at the last. The show was arranged at the top of the park just below the garden terrace. A great crowd of people thronged the lawns and overflowed to the grass beyond.

At the conclusion of the fireworks, when the people were gathered to the bonfire, the Vicar, supported by Mr. Bond, expressed the thanks of the parish to Sir William and Lady Cain. Everyone understood that when both time and supply were so limited there could have been no entertainment at all unless someone had acted at once. Sir William Cain has always shown that he has the welfare of Wargrave in mind and on this occasion he acted immediately, taking the whole burden upon himself and supplying an entertainment which no combined effort could have surpassed. The cheers of the guests must have done something to show how much the hospitality was appreciated, and it would indeed be difficult to think of anything that could have been devised that would have been more calculated to impress the memories of the young people with the glorious event of this happy victory than the entertainment which they enjoyed at Wargrave.

Wargrave parish magazine, December 1918 (D/P145/28A/31)