Sunday, 24 June 2012

Seaside Sunday: Jubilee Weymouth

When I visited Weymouth recently, the juibilee bunting was still decorating the streets. However, previous jubilees have left more permanent marks on the town. The first glimpse of the seafront for those arriving by train includes a rather fine clock. It commemorates Queen Victoria's golden jubilee of 1887. In typical Victorian municipal style, John Groves, Mayor is also mentioned on the inscription decorating each side. 

In fact, the clock pre-dates the Esplanade, and originally stood on the beach itself: the Esplanade was built around it in the 1920s. Four lamps were also added, but have since been lost. The colourful cast-iron clock looks particularly glorious at the moment after being repainted last year

A smaller private tribute still adorns the facade of the Fairhaven Hotel. In a clever piece of economy, the date '1897' was added to the bust's plinth to mark the Diamond Jubilee at almost no extra cost.

However, the finest piece of jubilee memorabilia is even earlier: the magnificent King's Statue which commemorates the golden jubilee of George III. It is, quite rightly, a local landmark. Although it stands on a  Portland stone plinth, the figures are of Coade stone. There are lots of colourful details to note; I particularly like the pile of books which remind us that before he became stereotyped as 'mad', the king was a noted scholar. His King's Library formed a basis for the British Library.  

The statue marks his golden jubilee, in 1810 - also the year in which declining health made him accept his son becoming Prince Regent. Weymouth had good reason to celebrate him, since he took his holidays there, helping to establish its popularity as a seaside resort. Although he did not attend the unveiling, other members of the Royal Family including the Prince of Wales were present. 

Again, the limelight on the inscription is shared - this time with its designer, architect James Hamilton. He was also responsible for the town's Royal Crescent and the white horse at Osmington - an equestrian depiction of George III - as well as several now-demolished chapels. 


SilverTiger said...

We are very fond of Weymouth and, come to that, the whole area. We spent a holiday there in 2007 (see Weymouth 2007 in my sidebar) and have gone on day visits since.

The monument to George III is unusual in being colourfully painted. It was looking a little dull before the recent refurbishment (no doubt for the Jubilee) and is now very handsome.

I love the clock tower too, of course.

All in all, it is a very pretty town with a special atmosphere all its own. The surrounding countryside is very beautiful too.

I somehow think it won't be very long before we go there again.

CarolineLD said...

I really enjoyed my (brief) visit to Weymouth - I hadn't been there since I was in my teens. I'll definitely be going back, though.