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News > From The Archives > Almost A Royal Visit

Almost A Royal Visit

Almost a royal visit to Rossall in 1847

From the address to Queen Victoria from the inhabitants of Fleetwood on Monday 20th September 1847:

‘We hasten to lay at your majesty’s feet, the dutiful allegiance of the inhabitants of the youngest town and port in all your Majesty’s dominions which dates its very existence from the very year your majesty first ascended the throne of these realms, and which from the barren and uninhabitable sands of the Fylde of Lancashire has already obtained some importance for its town of 300 inhabitants, its watering-place, harbour and railway together with its college for the sons of clergymen and other gentlemen’

On Monday 20th September 1847 the royal yacht, Victoria and Albert, docked in Fleetwood, bearing Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, the Prince Consort and later King Edward VII and their two children the Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal.  They were on their way back to London from Scotland and took the train to Euston the following morning, then a journey of some 12 hours.  They story goes that as a result of every gas burner being lit in the North Euston Hotel to mark the royal arrival, both the town’s lighthouses were plunged into darkness!

The boys at Rossall, now numbering nearly 200, under the benign but perhaps not very effective headmastership of Rev. Dr. John Wolley had settled on a Latin address to welcome her Majesty; Queen Victoria was a fluent Latin speaker and writer.  It had been composed by the finely named Thomas Weatherhead Sharpe, the School Captain, who went onto be a noted classical scholar of Christ’s College Cambridge, took holy orders, became a Schools inspector and the first president of the Rossallian Club, founded in 1894 to mark the school’s 50th anniversary.

It begins both with flattery and respect: ‘mulieri augustissimae atque ornatissimae Victoriae, to the most august and most excellent Lady Victoria’. It ends rather slyly; ‘sclicet ut feriis eheu! brevissimis hebdomadae spatium prolatis arbitrio auspicato fruamur.  In a somewhat free, but not entirely inaccurate translation by Vincent Beechey: ‘long mayst thou live to reign over our nation, but grants us poor boys a week’s longer vacation’!!

Unfortunately the address was not returned in time from the printers to be given, but when it was received, it was sent up to town, a kind reply received and the holiday granted.

The boys however enjoyed being drawn up on the quayside as the queen disembarked and presented her children amid great cheers, not unlike those boys and girls who lined the square in July 1994 to cheer our late Queen Elizabeth 11 and Prince Philip.

Richard McDowell

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