Miss Mary Wardell's Jubilee Picnic takes place in 1887, the year of Queen Victoria's Jubilee, celebrating 50 years of her reign. This was a global celebration, as illustrated by the 'Jubilee' Sanitary Washable wallpaper pictured above - showing Victoria, the Queen Empress of her dominions, their people, and their wild animals - including some very charming beavers carrying bundles of sticks, presumably representing hard working subjects. Britain is represented by the rose, thistle and shamrock - England, Scotland and Ireland.
This episode features two unique celebrations of the 1887 Jubilee, celebrations outside the official pomp and spectacle.
Crown Princess Liliuokalani, niece of the Queen of the Hawaiian Islands, and destined to be the very last Queen of Hawaii, is one of many Royal guests invited to participate in two days of spectacular Jubilee celebrations taking place in London on June 20th and 21st.
A number of foreign royals are staying in the Alexandra Hotel, London, and it is there, on June 20th, that Princess Liliuokalani composes 'The Queen's Jubilee', her tribute to Queen Victoria. Celebrated in Hawaii as a gifted musician and composer of Hawaiian songs and chants, her composition is still a popular song in Hawaii and is often performed. It was composed as a celebration, but also at a moment of great uncertainty for the Crown Princess, with her realm under attack from outside forces and her family in danger of death.
On June 21st, the second day of celebrations, Miss Wardell has a challenge; infectious disease is still rampant throughout Britain and how can she celebrate the Queen's Jubilee in her Convalescent Home for Scarlet Fever, with celebrants who are seriously unwell and who must be in strict isolation? But she is, as always, determined.
She organises a picnic on the lawn outside the Convalescent Home - now Eastgate House at the RNOH. There is a Jubilee cake donated by a local baker, and a little ceremonial planting by child patients of a rose, a thistle, and a shamrock. As the 1889 'Girl's Own Paper' records:
"Adults and children, nurses and servants, Matron and Sister, formed a goodly company, however, and "the lame, the halt, and the blind", managed to gather to the feast..."
Listen to this evocation of a very special celebration, beautifully read by former RNOH patient and artist Anne-Marie Creamer, and narrated by Radio Brockley award winning broadcaster Keith Reeve, both pictured below. Click on the images for more details.
Cast in order of performance:
Narrator : Keith Reeve
The Girl's Own Paper,1889: Anne-Marie Creamer (https://www.victorianvoices.net)
"Queen's Jubilee" by Queen Liliuokalani performed by the Honolulu Boy Choir, "The Voices of Aloha" / 1978
Sound Design: Louis Morand (https://www.louismorandsound.com/ )
"Episode 3: Miss Mary Wardell's Jubilee Picnic" is available to listen or download in the Podcast section of the Radio Brockley website: