We send our thanks and warmest congratulations to Her Majesty the Queen on the Occasion of her Platinum Jubilee.
On 6th February 2022, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II became the first British monarch to have reigned for seventy years, a truly remarkable achievement. During her long reign the Queen has visited Cowdray many times. To mark her Platinum Jubilee Celebrations, we take this opportunity to remember just some of the many royal visits made to the Estate over the years.
Cowdray Estate is no stranger to royal visitors. In Tudor times Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth I all stayed at the original Cowdray House, now the Ruins. These were magnificent occasions where no expense was spared in entertaining the royal guests. Reflecting on his visit, King Edward later wrote to a friend that Cowdray was, “a goodly house…where we were marvellously, yea rather excessively banketted…”
The Game of Kings
In 1909, over three centuries later, Sir Weetman Dickinson Pearson, later the First Viscount, purchased Cowdray Park. Soon afterwards his eldest son, the Hon Harold Pearson, introduced polo to the Estate. “The Game of Kings”, as it is sometimes called, has since attracted many royal polo players to Midhurst, including Lord Louis Mountbatten (the son of Prince Louis of Battenburg), the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry. Royal spectators have included the Queen, Princess Margaret, Princess Anne and Diana, Princess of Wales, to name a few.
Tea with Queen Mary
Queen Mary of Teck and her husband King George V were frequent guests of the First Viscount and Viscountess at their Scottish country estate, Dunecht. In 1929, when King George was recuperating in Bognor following an operation, Queen Mary made several visits to Cowdray. On one occasion she took tea at the Roundhouse with Mrs Alice Chalke, the Ruins Custodian, and signed the Ruins Visitors Book. Another time she and her daughter, Princess Mary, explored the Close Walks Wood together. Once part of the wider grounds of the original Cowdray House, the wood had been the setting of a lavish feast during Queen Elizabeth I’s Royal Progress of 1591.
In February 1952, Queen Elizabeth II acceded to the throne following the death of her father, King George VI. That May she appeared at Cowdray, without the foreknowledge of the press, to watch her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, play polo, the first of many such visits the couple would make during her reign.
The following year, on 2nd June 1953, inhabitants of the town of Midhurst and its surrounding villages gathered round their wirelesses and television sets for the broadcasting of the Queen’s coronation. The brand-new County Secondary School, across the water meadows from the Ruins, hosted the town’s celebrations, including children’s games, a fancy-dress parade and a coronation tea. A television was specially provided in a community hall, allowing elderly residents without their own set to watch the broadcast in glorious black and white. That night, a 400-strong torchlight procession took place along the Causeway and a fireworks display lit up the sky above the Cowdray Ruins.
What a thrill it must have been for Midhurst royalists later that month to see the Queen in person at Cowdray at the 1953 Coronation Cup Final. Her Majesty presented the Duke of Edinburgh’s team with the Novice’s Cup and Argentina with the Coronation Cup, a trophy first played for in 1911, the year of King George V’s own coronation.
The Elizabeth I Oak, purportedly visited by the monarch of that name.
This Sessile Oak, its name a reminder of another Elizabethan Age, is located just a short walk from Benbow Pond. Incredibly, it would have been a mature tree even when Elizabeth I came to Cowdray in 1591. It is one of 70 trees which have been dedicated to Her Majesty in celebration of the Platinum Jubilee by The Queen’s Green Canopy initiative.
Written by Tania PonsBack to News