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A local history and genealogy site for Wimpole, a village and parish in South Cambridgeshire
Curated by Steve Odell

Home    "Wimpole Amuses Victoria"    "Wimpole As I Knew It"    David Ellison
Queen Victoria's Visit
26 to 28 October 1843
A short adaptation by David Ellison of reports carried in the 'Cambridge Chronicle'.
Issues for 28 October and 4 November 1843.
Queen Victoria's arrival at Wimpole Hall
A print published by the 'Pictorial Times' (p.153, Issue 33, 28 October 1843) to mark
the Queen's visit, showing her Post-chaise arriving at Wimpole Hall.
Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort visited Cambridge for one night on Thursday 26th October 1843, then moved to Wimpole Hall for two nights (Friday 26 and Saturday 27 October) as the guests of Lord Hardwicke. On the second evening a Grand Ball for 800 guests was held. Queen Victoria was twenty four years of age at the time of the visit.
The first part is an adaptation by David Ellison of reports on the visit carried in the 'Cambridge Chronicle' [issues for 28 October and 4 November 1843]
The second part comprises two short reminiscences that were printed in the "Graphic" [Saturday 16 February 1901] remembering back to the Grand Ball.
(Numbered footnotes and any additional comments [within square brackets and in italics] are mine. - Steve Odell.)
Queen Victoria's Visit to Wimpole. (Links to pages on this website):
  "Wimpole Amuses Victoria". Booklet published in 1981, Ellisons' Editions. (In development)
  "Queen Victoria's Journal". Visit to Cambridge and Wimpole, 25 to 28 October 1843.
  "Queen Victoria Visits Wimpole Hall". Reported in the 'Cambridge Chronicle'.
  "Her Majesty at Wimpole". Reports from 'The Times' Newspaper. (In development)
  "Queen Victoria at Royston". Reports from Royston on the Royal progress.
"One morn in Eighteen-forty-three
The Queen said... 'Albert dear, now list to me,
I mean to be off to Cambridge...
We'll have some more of the public applause,
And you shall be made a Doctor of Laws,
As soon as we get to Cambridge,
Then, hey! for Cambridge, Albert dear,
We will not wait for another year,
But set out at once, without any fear,
On a Royal visit to Cambridge!"
(Anon 1843) (and another thirteen stanzas in similar vein)
From 'Royal Cambridge', Marion Colthorpe MA, published 1977 by Cambridge City Council.
This is a short adaptation by David Ellison of reports carried in the 'Cambridge Advertiser/Chronicle' [issues for 28 October and 4 November 1843] describing Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's visit to Wimpole Hall, as the guests of the 4th Earl of Hardwicke.
Queen Victoria's Visit
On Thursday 26 October 1843, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were escorted from Cambridge to Wimpole by the Whittlesea troop of the Cambridgeshire Yeomanry. The fourth Earl of Hardwicke, as Lord Lieutenant, had dispensed with the escort of Scots Greys, roundly declaring, "The County Cavalry are well able to guard Her Majesty as long as she may stay in Cambridgeshire." The royal cortege was met at the foot of Orwell Hill, where they were met by the Earl and a younger brother, Eliot Thomas Yorke, MP for Cambridgeshire. [The procession then entered the Wimpole estate by the newly constructed 'Victoria Drive' that had been created for the visit.]
Lamps had been placed all the way along the drive and the front of the Hall was illuminated as the Queen was greeted at the steps, covered in crimson cloth, by the Earl and Countess at twenty-five minutes to six. The Queen and Prince were given two rooms on the first floor facing south to use as drawing rooms, and a breakfast room on the north front. For a dressing room Lady Hardwicke's boudoir, looking out over the elm avenue, was used; next was the royal bedroom and further along the Prince's dressing room; other rooms on the same floor were allotted to her entourage, and they used the private staircase. All these rooms had been specially redecorated for the occasion, and the great State Bed had the initials of Queen and Prince (V&A) worked somehow to each of the four supporters. A white lace coverlet was lined with green silk, and the hangings, according to a correspondent, were 'of elegant chintz with a white ground'.
On that first evening the guests assembled for dinner at quarter to eight in the Yellow Drawing Room, the Earl escorting the Queen in to dinner and the Prince taking the Countess. Guests included the Duke of Rutland, the Marquis of Exeter, the Marquis and Marchioness of Normanby, the Earl of Caledon, Earl de la Warr, Viscount and Viscountess Canning, two ladies-in-waiting and two gentlemen of the court; three of the earl's brothers and their wives and an old navel friend of the earl, Captain Hart [1], were also present. The meal lasted an hour and a half, and the royal party stayed in the drawing room until eleven o'clock.
Next morning [Friday 27 October] the Queen and Prince were up soon after seven and walked in the garden before attending prayers in the Chapel, taken by the other two brothers, Henry [2], who was Rector of Wimpole, and Grantley, who was also a clergyman. After breakfast at ten o'clock, the Queen was shown some of the treasures of Wimpole, including, as she later wrote to her cousin, the Queen of the Belgians, "a sofa covered with a piece of drapery given by Louis XIV to the poet Matthew Prior, and by him to Lord Oxford, then owner of Wimpole."
The Prince went shooting in the Park with the earl and one of his gentlemen. At Cobbs Wood, borrowing the earl's guns, the Prince accounted for seventeen pheasants, a brace of hares and four rabbits; 'His Royal Highness,' claimed the Cambridge Chronicle, 'did not miss a single shot.'
Luncheon was at two o'clock. Afterwards the Queen drove down to the Arrington road gates, with the Prince riding on horseback: they were cheered by crowds of local villagers as they turned north to ride up to Bourn where Earl de la Warr's mansion was. The return journey entered the park by a rear way through the old village.
Friday's dinner party was larger and grander; opposite the Queen was placed 'a piece of very elaborate and exquisite workmanship representing St Michael overcoming the Dragon. This ornament is in frosted silver and was upon a polished fluted pedestal of silver.' Flanking it were 'handsome large silver ewers' and 'four magnificent fruit stands of a very costly description, and the room was lit with four immense candelabra of silver, each with six branches.' Standing round the room were figures of Hebe and of Fame, the latter on a pedestal of imitation lapis lazuli; and the sideboards, amidst much gold and silver plate, displayed a 'handsome cup of silver into which were worked no less than ninety-five medals which had been presented to Lord Cornwallis.'
But the grand event was the Ball, held after dinner. The whole of the ground floor, Gallery, Library, Book Room, Dining and Drawing Rooms - as well as the [now demolished] conservatory - were opened up. The drive from the Arrington road gates is a mile long, and though it was lit in places the night was dark and overcast; and it began to rain as the two-mile long queue of carriages made their way to the front of the hall. Eventually some 800 guests were ushered into the Gallery and other rooms leading to the Library where a throne had been placed on a dais for the Queen. Dancing was in the Gallery whose pillars were wreathed with laurel and red and white roses. Several hundreds of best wax candles provided illumination.
The young Queen was dressed in a brocaded silk gown of pale yellow called oiseau de paradis, and displayed the Order of the Garter in magnificent diamonds; her hair was decked with a wreath of pink roses. After passing between the line of guests, she danced three quadrilles, and then went to admire the conservatory. At midnight, the Queen's party went into the great dining room where the table, 'in the form of a prolonged horseshoe, groaned with plate and the viands provided'; Unfortunately, when the queen retired, that had to put an end to the dancing for her bedrooms were above the front suite of rooms. But as least, when the royal party had eaten, more ordinary guests were then admitted to the supper room which was 'crowded for nearly two hours.'
Triunphal Arch at BuntingfordTriunphal Arch at Royston
The following morning [Saturday 28 October] saw the royal departure. The local Yeomanry Cavalry, with the Earl and other gentlemen also mounted, again provided the escort, but this time down the Ermine Way to Royston and on to Buntingford. There was only one slight mishap, fortunately rectified in time. The good citizens of Royston had constructed a triumphal archway, emblazoned "The Yeomanry of Hertfordshire Greet Their Queen". This had previously stood on the Melbourn road, which the Queen had taken when arriving for the visit to Cambridge. With praiseworthy economy it had been dismantled and re-erected on the Bassingbourn road - but, alas, the stormy weather blew it down overnight. After a frantic rush it was, we're glad to say, again in place for Her Majesty as 'she passed through the arch and was greeted with enthusiastic cheers by hundreds of people who had assembled on the spot.'
[1] Francis Hart, Commander Royal Navy (c1796-1845). Steward to the 4th Earl of Hardwicke for 10 years. Buried in Wimpole churchyard. "He was a faithful and zealous servant."
[2] Henry Reginald Yorke, Rector of Wimpole, born 30th October 1802 died 25th September 1871, and buried in the Hardwicke Vault.
Two short reminiscences that were printed in the "Graphic" [Saturday 16 February 1901] remembering back to the Grand Ball at Wimpole Hall in 1843.
Agonised by the Honour of Dancing with his Queen
"On the night of Friday, October 27, 1843, a grand ball was given at Wimpole, by the Earl of Hardwicke, the Lord-Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, to whom the Queen and Prince Albert were on a visit.
"Lord Caledon [1], known in the [Coldstream] Guards as "Pikey" was told early in the evening that he was destined to have the honour of dancing with Her Majesty. The announcement threw him into an agony of apprehension. He entreated his cousin, Colonel Ramsay, who was on escort duty during the visit, to retire with him into one of the embrasures of the dancing hall and give him some idea of the steps.
"Providing themselves with a bottle of champagne, they withdrew from observation and the lesson commenced. Caledon was going laboriously through the steps when a Lord-in-Waiting, not discovering his whereabouts called out "Lord Caledon! Lord Caledon! The Queen's dance."
"The Lord-in-Waiting happened to look into the embrasure, and observing "Pikey's" agonised efforts withdrew grinning.
"When Lord Caledon came up to the Queen, to perform with scrupulous fidelity the steps he had just learned, Her Majesty laughed heartily, thus revealing that the Lord-in-Waiting had communicated the circumstances under which he had been found.
"Later in the evening an officer burst out of the circle in which he was dancing, saying to his partner, who afterwards married a peer, "Let us go to some other circle." Several circles had been formed, one being reserved exclusively for the Queen and Prince Albert, who waltzed together. Not observing the Queen, he said "Hulloa! there is no one here." and dashed into the sacred ring.
"He danced erratically and only just escaped colliding with Her Majesty, who was seated at the moment. Several persons rushed forward to stop the couple, when the Queen said "Let them stay!"
"When they had finished they found themselves directly opposite Her Majesty, whose eyes were fixed on them. Their consternation was very great, and they fled precipitately amid general laughter."
[1] James Du Pre Alexander, 3rd Earl of Caledon (1812–1855), was a soldier and politician. He was the son of the 2nd Earl of Caledon and Lady Catherine Yorke (daughter of the Third Earl of Hardwicke). He was Member of Parliament for Tyrone between 1837 and 1839. He succeeded to the title of Earl of Caledon in 1839. He was then elected to the House of Lords as a Representative Peer for Ireland in 1841. He gained the rank of captain in the service of the Coldstream Guards and was Colonel of the Tyrone Militia.
"Then let's rejoice, my Albert dear,
That we're once more in safety here,
I'll have you made something else next year,
For you behaved well in Cambridge!"
(Anon 1843) [And to which the probable answer was Alfred Ernest Albert...]
From 'Royal Cambridge', Marion Colthorpe MA, published 1977 by Cambridge City Council.
Wimpole Amuses Victoria - Cover "Wimpole Amuses Victoria" was published by Ellisons' Editions in a numbered Limited Edition of 500 copies in 1981.
Read "Wimpole Amuses Victoria" on this website.
This small A5 booklet is an account of Queen Victoria's 1843 visit to
Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire.
(External Link)
An episode in the 2011 BBC1 series "Royal Upstairs Downstairs" featured Queen Victoria's visit to Wimpole Hall. Not really to my taste but it "might amuse". Some errors!
"Tim Wonnacott and Rosemary Shrager are at Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire, following in the footsteps of Queen Victoria, who visited here with Prince Albert in 1843."
You can watch it here on YouTube (28 minutes).
Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire
Aerial View of Wimpole Hall
Copyright © National Trust, all rights reserved.

This page was last updated on: 03 September 2020.



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