‘One of the most wonderful times in the history of England’

To mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee, here is the opening of a letter from our Booth family archive in which the shipowner and social commentator Charles Booth (1840-1916) describes his experience of the last diamond jubilee, that of Queen Victoria in June 1897.

26 June 1897
My dear cousin,
The Jubilee is over & I will send you at any rate a short account (it has turned out a very long one) of what we ourselves have seen of it, ending with the great thunderstorm last night at Portsmouth.
Our sight of the procession & service at St Paul’s was perfect. We had engaged a room in a house at the top of Ludgate Hill, which from rather high up commanded a view both ways, down Ludgate Hill to the right & the whole front of St Paul’s to the left […] Of course every window & every roof was filled with spectators & some great wooden stands had been erected, one in particular occupying the place of a building which was pulled down on purpose to be replaced in this way. Very high prices have been paid & even to the last good prices were got, though not so very extravagant as were first paid or talked of.
For such a chosen place it was worth while to pay something extra, for not only did we see the procession but we had a full quarter of an hour while the Queen passed in her carriage to join in the thanksgiving service & in this service we could ourselves join, hearing every word of the Bishop of London & most of those of the Archbishop of Canterbury, although he is so old a man, & hearing the music beautifully & joining in the old hundredth & the cheering & in God save the Queen which broke out as the Queen’s carriage moved on […]

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