A bumbling archbishop, the ring placed on the wrong finger, lacklustre decorations, an almost fatal crush on the Cliffs...history has proved there’s more to coronations that just bunting and street parties.

As the nation gears up for King Charles’ coronation on Saturday May 6, it gives us an excuse to look back at some of the many other crowning ceremonies that have taken place over the centuries – and how they were celebrated across south Essex.

Let’s start with Queen Victoria’s coronation. The 19-year-old was crowned in Westminster Abbey on June 28, 1838, just over a year after she succeeded to the throne. Her coronation was a grand affair. She changed the usual route of the procession so that more spectators could see her in her golden State Coach – the same one Charles and Camilla will leave the abbey in this weekend.

The new queen, by all accounts, enjoyed the pomp and circumstance of the occasion, later writing in her diary about the day: “I got into the State Coach with the Duchess of Sutherland and Lord Albemarle and we began our Progress. It was a fine day, and the crowds of people exceeded what I have ever seen. Many as there were the day I went to the city, it was nothing, nothing to the multitudes, the millions of my loyal subjects, who were assembled in every spot to witness the procession.”

There were, however, a few embarrassing blunders during the five-hour ceremony – scenes we can only hope aren’t repeated this Saturday.

The coronation ring was painfully forced onto the wrong finger and Lord Rolle, an elderly peer, fell down the steps while making his homage to the queen. A confused bishop wrongly told the queen the ceremony was over and she then had to come back to her seat to finish the service.

At this time Southend was a fledgeling town and Basildon was little more than a hamlet, but nevertheless there was plenty of celebration. In Leigh-on-Sea the Rev Robert Eden, rector of St Clement’s Church, delivered a coronation sermon at the Old Leigh Hall to a crowd of parishioners (he would go onto become high up in the Scottish church by being made Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness). A free dinner for locals with tea, amusements, and fireworks, then followed.

At the Rochford workhouse there was apparently plenty of talk about ‘the young queen’ and a special dinner and evening of games was laid on. At Milton Hall Manor House- now the site we know as Nazareth House – the Scratton family provided a free dinner for residents and a pot of beer per head was given to each person in celebration of the royal crowning.

Victoria died in 1901 and she was succeeded by her eldest son Albert Edward who became Edward VII alongside his wife Alexandra, as queen.

Poor Edward’s coronation was marred by setbacks. In fact, it’s an example of how not to crown a monarch.

Echo: Crowned at just 19 years old – Victoria’s coronation was five hours longCrowned at just 19 years old – Victoria’s coronation was five hours long (Image: Newsquest)

His coronation day was set for June 26, 1902, and guests were invited from all over the world. However, the king suffered appendicitis a few days beforehand and developed peritonitis. The king, though hugely reluctant, agreed to postpone the event to August 9. By then he was much recovered, and the service proceeded as planned. However, parts of the ceremony were botched by the ageing and almost blind Archbishop of Canterbury, Frederick Temple. His eyesight was so bad that he had to have the payers printed in large letters on cards so he could see them. These were known as ‘prompt scrolls’. The 81-year-old still misread some of them and when it came to the pivotal moment of the crowning, he almost dropped the crown.

He then placed it on the king’s head the wrong way round. Worse still, when he knelt to pay homage to the monarch, he couldn’t get back up again. He had to be helped up by the king himself and several bishops. Another disruption during the ceremony came from the king’s sister, Princess Beatrice, who accidentally – and loudly – dropped her service book from the royal gallery onto a table below.

The change of date meant the coronation was a bit of a damp squib in London and in Essex. Many heads of states and VIPs failed to attend because of the postponement and sent their ambassadors instead. People who had rented rooms along the coronation route for the initial date in June, demanded their money back.

Nevertheless, there was also plenty of merrymaking as a new king was crowned. A set of twins born at Stratford, East London, were named ‘Coronation and King’ by their patriotic parents. Three Essex mayors were invited to the ceremony –including the mayor of Southend James Colbert Ingram. He enjoyed the very lengthy ceremony, although he was so far back, he couldn’t see anything. After the proceedings he had to walk for a mile to meet his carriage – such was the traffic jam of carriages and coaches.

In Rayleigh church bells rang out in the morning to welcome the new king then a beautiful torchlight procession led up to Rayleigh Mount in the evening. At Great Wakering Hall, Chinese lanterns and fairy lamps were lit. It must have looked enchanting.

A huge fireworks display was held on the Cliffs which saw the largest ever gathering of people in the seafront – to the extent a deadly crush almost occurred.

Pubs across Rochford – just like those across the country – applied for extensions to celebrate the occasion. The White Horse in Rochford was granted permission to stay open for an extra 45 minutes on Coronation Day. In his application to the court the landlord said the town “was going to have a general bust up” to celebrate the coronation.

Hadleigh was accused of letting the side down, however, with lacklustre decorations. One report from the day said: “Except for a few flags a visitor to the village would not have been able to tell it was interested in an event such as the coronation. There were no festivities and all, but a few shops were closed. This was due to the fact most of the arrangements had been set for June 26.”

Fast forward to June 22, 1911, to the coronation of George V and his wife Mary, following the death of Edward and the bunting was back up again.

In Southend £600 was spent on celebration. The town was described as a ‘blaze of colour’ with steamers, banners and flags waving profusely. At midday a public thanksgiving service was held at the Cliffs bandstand. Entertainment was laid on for 8,000 schoolchildren and just like every youngster across the nation they received a small coronation mug – a gift from the king.

A 15ft high bonfire and fireworks display was held at the Nore Yacht Club while picnics, teas and fairs were held across south Essex. A massive historical tableau was held in Chelmsford.

Echo: An advert for a ball at the KursaalAn advert for a ball at the Kursaal (Image: Newsquest)

On May 12, 1937 it was George VI and his wife Elizabeth’s turn to be crowned as ‘king and queen of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth’, and as’ emperor and empress of India’. Again, the ceremony took place at Westminster Abbey. This coronation was unfortunate with the weather.

In the morning it was fine but in the afternoon the heavens opened, and it began pouring down. Fetes, fireworks, and fairs across Essex were rained off and many events had to be postponed.

Some of the Navy’s most famous warships came to Southend as part of a coronation celebration featuring vessels of the Home Fleet. The ships were illuminated at night and provided an amazing spectacle. Another celebration was a huge pageant featuring depictions of Southend’s history.

To the last coronation – until now – and celebrations for the crowning of Elizabeth II, on June 2, 1953 at Westminster Abbey, really cranked up across the patch.

Southend went to town with a week of big events held including a grand fireworks display on the seafront, a coronation military tattoo, a coronation ball at the Kursaal featuring ‘Ted Heath and his Music’, a swimming gala at the Westcliff swimming baths, a garden party and fete at Priory Park, Loves Labours Lost performed by the Southend Shakespeare Society in Chalkwell Park, a model power boat coronation regatta in Southchurch Park and a fancy dress historical pageant in Rectory Gardens, Southchurch.

Another highlight of the celebrations was an air race at Southend Airport featuring aerobatic displays by supersonic jets.

During the coronation period the council erected flags and bunting along the High Street while Victoria Circus was decorated with flowers. Competitions were held for the best floral window display amongst Southend businesses and HMS Vanguard visited Southend and was moored off the pier.

Towns and villages across the area held street parties. On the Primrose Hill estate in Laindon children took part in egg and spoon and sack races, while food, drink, singing, and dancing were laid on.

On Canvey plenty of street parties were held including huge ones in Goirle Avenue, Winter Gardens and the North Avenue estate. A coronation dinner was held at the casino on the seafront featuring a menu of old English fayre including roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and apple pie and custard.

Despite the island still recovering from the devastating floods just four months earlier, the Canvey community rallied to make the day one to remember.

In Basildon Street parties were held across the New Town. Dorothy Muschamp’s parents were the first in her street to own a television, so all the neighbouring children paid a couple of pennies to go to Dorothy’s home and watch the special children’s coronation programmes. The money was then used to host a neighbourhood coronation party at the church hall in St Peter’s Pavement.