Muriel’s Richard Dimbleby book brings back memories of the Queen’s coronation.
AS the nation prepares to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Ely woman Muriel Halliday has unearthed a book she was given as a schoolgirl in the city, to celebrate the Queen’s Coronation.
The book - entitled Elizabeth Our Queen - was written by veteran broadcaster Richard Dimbleby, and charts the life of the Queen up until her accession to the thrown.
“The book was given to me when I was eight years old, and a pupil at Ely Junior School for Girls,” remembers Muriel, whose name at the time was Muriel Nicholas. “I think all the school children in the city received a book like this.”
Muriel also still has a mat she embroidered as an eight-year-old, with a design featuring a horseman dressed in royal livery, to accompany the Queen’s coach on coronation day.
Muriel has fond memories of the coronation. “My father was in St John Ambulance, and he was a stretcher bearer in London that day, assisting the crowds in the capital,” she said.
“My aunt bought a nine inch television set in a big cabinet especially for the occasion, the coronation was probably the first thing I ever watched on TV. I remember going to my aunt’s house to watch the pageantry, and I tried to see my father there. The whole family gathered around the set at my aunt’s home in Annesdale, the children all sat on the floor, and the neighbours were also invited in.
Muriel also remembers a children’s coronation party held at Ely Corn Exchange, with youngsters sitting at trestle tables to tuck into a spread of food. “I think I took along paste sandwiches and jam tarts,” she said. “We were also taken on a pleasure boat on the River Ouse to celebrate the coronation, leaving from the boatyard at Annesdale.”
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The commemorative book given to Muriel has spent the last 60 years protected by a brown paper cover. “We always covered our books, this is the first time it has been out of the cover, and that is why it is in such pristine condition,” explained Muriel.