Cambridge Peace Festival – celebrations on Parker’s Piece in July 1814

I’m assuming this celebration happened following the defeat and first overthrow of Napoleon Bonaparte of France, that happened at the end of March 1814.

I stumbled across this one while searching for articles about votes for women following the conference yesterday. It’s beautifully written and gives a wonderful snapshot in time after what must have felt like endless years of war with France. Another Gem from the British Newspaper Archive –  (With £subscription you can read the original newspaper print). The article reads as follows:

Cambridge Peace Festival.

“With sentiments of peculiar delight that we have this week to record a festival, gratifying to the thousands who partook and were spectators of it, as the Peace which it celebrated is glorious to the hundreds of thousands by whose valour it has been effected.

“The dinner this occasion was given Tuesday last, on Parker’s Piece, to all the inhabitants who chose to partake of it, and.the expence [sic] was defrayed by subscription. The arrangements were conducted with order and regularity that would appear surprising, were we not to state, that the exertions the various committees were indefatigable to render it superior any thing the kind that had ever been witnessed in this town.

“A very large circular space was marked out and properly secured with ropes, &c. in the middle which was an orchestra; the tables were 24 in number, branching out from the centre. The presidents, vice-presidents, stewards, and assistants, went in procession Parker’s Piece at about eleven o’clock, preceded by the band and colours, and took their different stations.

“The parties from all the fourteen parishes were afterwards conducted in regular order, walking two and two, with their parochial colours, to the tables, and were seated by one o’clock, soon after which, at the sound of a bugle, grace was said by the president of each table.

“Dinner then commenced, which consisted of old English fare, roast and boiled beef, and hot plumb puddings. The meat (which was cold) was of the best kind, and the puddings excellent; and notwithstanding full justice was done to them by the company, there was a great profusion, as well vegetables, bread, cheese, and ale.

“The tables were tastefully decorated with flowers, and the parochial colours were placed nearly the centre of the different parties. The Mayor presided at the first table, and the other presidents, as well as vice-presidents, &c. comprised several of the clergy and many of the principal inhabitants.

“During the time the company were at dinner, a balloon was sent off.,which rose a majestic manner; it kept sight two or three minutes, and then disappeared in the clouds.

“The orchestra was elevated and fitted up with propriety, and the vocal and instrumental bands (the latter of which was chiefly military) were numerous and excellent. After dinner grace was said, and was immediately followed two verses of the 100th Psalm, which were sung with much effect.

“The following toasts were then given the president of each table, at the sound of a bugle, and the songs sung by the vocal band, accompanied by the instrumental, the numerous assembly joining in the choruses with extatic (sic) delight:

  • The King, (three times three)
    • Song. ” God save the King,” every half verse sung first by the vocal band then repeated by the company.
  • The Prince Regent
  • The Queen and Family,
  • The Duke of York and the Army.”
    • Duke York’s March.
  • The Wooden Walls of Old England.
    • Song, Rule Britannia,” with full chorus.
  • The Emperor Alexander and the Allied Sovereigns.
    • Russian National Air.
  • Duke of Wellington.
    • Song, Sec the conquering Hero comes,” with full chorus.
  • His Majesty’s Ministers.
  • Marshal Blucher, and God bless him.
    • Song, ” Glorious Apollo,” with full chorus.
  • May all Tyrant? meet the fate of Buonaparte.
  • Old England, which has saved herself by her energy and her example. Grand Chorus, “Britons strike home,” with full accompaniments.
  • The University of Cambridge.
  • Prosperity the Town of Cambridge.
  • Peace and Plenty for ever.
    • Song., You gentlemen of England.”

“The Mayor gave the health of Sir Philip Broke, and pointed to one of the colours in the orchestra, which belonged to the American Frigate Chesapeake, which was so gloriously captured by the gallant Captain and the the Shannon. — The toast was enthusiastically drank with three times three.

“The health of Colonel Mortlock (the Mayor) was also drank with great applause. God save the King was then sung again in the same manner as before; after which most the company went procession, preceded by the band, to Midsummer Green, where the following sports took place:—

  • A Jingle Match for a hat value 15s and the jingler 7s6d
  • A Donkey Race, (the best three heats) £1.1s .
  • Eight boys (under 15 years) ran 150 yards for a pair shoes value 10s. 6d.
  • Eight men ran 300 yards – for hat value 10s 6d.
  • A Poney (sic) Race (under 13 hands) for £1.1s
  • A Donkey (one heat) for 15s
  • Jumping in Sacks by six men, sixty yards, the winner had 10s 6d. and the second 7s.
  • Donkey Race (one heat) the last in had £1.1s.
  • Four chimney-sweepers (in their working dress) and another boy, dipped in a bowl of flour for a shilling; the winner had 7s. and the second 3s. 6d. besides the shilling in the bowl.
  • A Smoaking (sic) Match, by four men, 10s.
  • A royal Pig hunt with soaped tail) afforded much sport.

“The evening was concluded by a bonfire on Parker’s Piece.

“Thus ended festival unprecedented the annals of this town. The numbers who partook the dinner amounted to nearly 6,000, and the spectators may, without exaggeration, reckoned at 15,000, many persons having come from places within the distance twenty miles.

“Notwithstanding the vast number of people assembled together, there was great order and regularity; the day was singularly fine and beautiful, which added much to the effect produced by such immense concourse of persons, whose countenances beamed with joy and gratification; and the impression that must have been made upon the minds of all who were present, will long remembered with pleasure and delight.

“The joy which animates the inhabitants of this place manifested itself again Wednesday and Thursday evenings, by numerous tea parties in different parts of the town, which were followed by fascinating amusement of dancing, which was kept up with much gaiety and spirit.”

140715 Cambridge Peace Festival post Napoleon Parkers Piece

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s