Picnic at Highfields
26 June 1902
The plans had been in place for some time - the
villagers of Blackham were invited to Highfields
Park for a picnic to celebrate the coronation of
King Edward VII.
But as Wikipaedia tells us: ‘By the time of his
accession, the 59-year-old Edward was overweight
and fond of large meals and cigars. He launched
himself into his new role, but his first busy months
on the throne were bedevilled by a succession of
illnesses and injuries. On 23 June, three days
before the date set for the coronation, the King and
Queen returned from Windsor Castle to
Buckingham Palace in preparation. Foreign
journalists noted that he appeared "worn and pale"
and was leaning heavily on his cane. That evening,
the King and Queen hosted a formal dinner for
seventy British and overseas royal guests,
including their niece, the Empress of Russia.
‘On the following day at 12 noon, a telegram
marked "OFFICIAL" was dispatched around the
Empire, with the news that the coronation was
postponed and that the King was undergoing an
But it was too late to cancel the picnic which went
ahead as planned, including a photo (left) of all the
guests with some staff peaking out of upstairs
It would be great to identify some of these
villagers from just over 100 years ago, so if you
recognise your great grandfather or some other
relation, please let us know.
The photograph above is now on display in the village hall with the following caption
Blackham Picnic Highfields Park 26 June 1902
This picture is dedicated to the memory of one Blackham’s longest residents, CECIL FLOYD 22-11-1924 to 22-03-2008
Cecil’s sister Betty with her daughters Susan and Jenny kindly donated this historic picture to the Village Hall. Cecil lived in Blackham all of his life, except with he
was in the Royal Navy. The Floyd family had a long connection with Blackham Village. Ellen ‘Cissie’ (Cecil’s mother) was a noted gardener winning many prizes at
local shows. She was the daughter of Fred Scales a landlord of the Sussex Oak Pub. Thomas (Cecil’s father) taught the piano and was organist at Blackham Church and
then Hartfield Church. Cecil’s grandfather (also Thomas) was a gardener at Lodge Gate Highfields in 1871. He also farmed at Highfields Park Mansion in 1881 and
Willetts Farm from 1885 to 1911. He had several cottages built in the village some bearing the name by which he was affectionately known, ‘Mayor’ House and Cottages.
Below are sections of the photo in which we have tried to reveal some of the detail to make identification easier
From the upstairs windows
The king was finally crowned at
Westminster Abbey on 9 August and
not wishing to let the occasion pass
without any fanfare, a second event
was held at Highfields, as reported in
the Kent & Sussex Courier.
The report also contains details of
the first picnic, explains why the
men in the windows were working
and gives a list of prize winners and
the prizes they took home.
While London raised its voice in
gratitude and hailed the fleeting of
“the gladdest day of all the year” as
becomes the greatest city in the
world, villages and hamlets pursued
their courses of humble homage in
that atmosphere of simplicity which
pervades rusticity and makes it for all
time so fascinating to observe.
The 272 persons populating
Blackham, for instance, released
from the common round, spent the
morning hours in looking into
mirrors and arranging the meet
presentable toilets, for the weather
was typical of the month beloved by
Dickens – with clear skies, green
fields and sweet-smelling flowers on
In the afternoon they strolled up to
Highfield Park and immersed
themselves in the lengthy programme
of sports which had been drawn up.
Incidentally it may be mentioned that
Captain Haig owns the extensive
Park and that recently Mr and Mrs
Montague Kirkwood have taken up
their abode at Highfield, the terraced
front of which overlooks the broad
expanse of meadow-land.
Mr and Mrs Kirkwood have already
linked themselves with the interests
of Blackham in a variety of material
ways which cannot fail to have for
their sequence the well-being of the
For example, Mr Kirkwood has
attached some importance to the
existence of the Blackham C.C. and
it is his intention to assist the club in
securing a playing pitch in Highfield
The house is under renovation, detail
is being given to the conservation of
its artistic precincts and it is fast
becoming one of those stately homes
of England of which Mrs Heasans
has written inasmuch as it is
To revert to the Coronation
celebrations held in the Park, of
which Mr Ralph Haddon is the
tenant, it must be admitted that they
were of the mildest order. This, of
course, is readily conceivable.
The greater part of the programme
was gone through on the 26th of June
and those participating in the events
of that day will recollect that all the
men partook of a substantial dinner,
all the women and children of a nice
tea, that, after the children’s sports,
the wives were the recipients of
souvenirs from Mrs Kirkwood, that
the inhabitants were photographed by
Mr E T Gyles of Loughton, Essex,
and that no fewer than 76 gallons of
ale and 46 gallons of ginger beer, the
latter supplied by Mr A H Ellis, were
Thus it was not an over-imaginative
mind that would suggest the
probability of the quiet passing of the
national ceremonial celebrations in
the hamlet at the second time of
appeared to enjoy themselves and
had it not been for the prevalence of
measles, additional numbers would
have been present to extract frolic
from the proceeding and pleasantness
from its harmonious nature.
The sports were begin at two o’clock
and did not finish until after seven,
the decision of the various events
proving a source of interest to the
Bearing in mind certain palpable
circumstances, the selection of Mr A
H Ellis as hon secretary of the whole
affair was a happy choice.
A man of apparently untiring energy
in any sphere and possessing the rare
attributes of courtesy and
consideration, Mr Ellis was enabled
to cope with the conflicting duties
devolving from such a secretarial
post with considerable aptitude; and
to him the populace are indebted in
great measure for the excellence
marking the arrangements and the
success resulting from them.
The general work was ably
undertaking by a hard-working
committee composed of Messrs T
Floyd (chairman), G Hutchins, F
Hutchins, C Hutchins, George
Bradford, J Heaysman, Ralph
Haddon and C Booker; and it may be
added, the Rev W Gilchrist, who in
many ways helped the committee in
the discharge of their duties.
As signifying the interest manifested
in the even by Mr and Mrs
Kirkwood, the lady herself witnessed
the sports throughout while her
brother Mr R Morris, officiate as
starter and Mr R Paget acted as
At four o’clock tea was served
underneath the trees and in the course
of the day every man was regaled
with four glasses of beer. The women
and children were given sweets and
bananas. The catering of the tea was
done by Mrs Clarke.
The prizes were distributed by Mrs
Kirkwood after which votes of thanks
were passed. Three hearty cheers
were accorded Mrs Kirkwood, Mr
Morris and Mr Paget for their
kindness in helping to make the day
pleasurable by assisting in official
The tribute emanated from the Rev
W Gilchrist, who made allusion to
the work done by the other officials.
At the instance of Mr A H Ellis, the
company gave three lusty cheers for
Mr and Mrs Kirkwood.
200 yards Flat Race for Senior Men – 1,
brush rack, T Coomber; 2, flask, A H Ellis;
3, pencil, E Bashford
100 yards handicap for Married Women –
1, 1lb tea, Mrs Wickham; 2, 1/2lb tea, Mrs
Egg and Spoon Race for Single Women – 1,
box of Tunbridge Ware, Miss Crowhurst; 2,
box of Tunbridge Ware, Miss Cotton; 3,
brush, Miss Coomber.
200 yards Race for Junior Men – 1, brush
rack, F Brown; 2, flask, E Scrace; 3, pencil,
400 yards Steeplechase for Married Men –
1, shaving set, T Coomber; 2, set of brushes
T Coomber; 3, writing case Bashford.
100 yards Race for Single Women – 1, 1lb
tea, Miss Coomber; 2, 1/2lb tea Miss
Sack Race for Junior Men – 1, cigar case, J
Lock; 2, pipe in case, Crowhurst; 3, match-
box, A Pearson.
Needle-sewing Race for Married Women –
1, work box, Mrs Scrace; 2, clock, Mrs
Ellis; 3, pencil case, Mrs Head.
Egg and Spoon Race for Married Women –
1, box of Tunbrodge ware, Mrs Scrace; 2,
box of Tunbridge ware, Miss Rinkhurst; 3,
pie tray, Mrs Head.
200 yards Race for Lads under 18 – 1,
alarum clock, Elliott; 2, pen and pencil set,
Harris; 3, knife, B Coomber
Obstacle Race for Senior Men – 1, “Don”
shaving set, A H Ellis; 2, alarum clock,
Bashford; 3, shaving pot, T Coomber.
Three legged Race for Lads under 16 – 1,
writing materials, Masters Ellis and Kemp; 2,
pen and pencil set, Masters H Wood and
Wheelbarrow Race (blindfold) for single
men – 1, walking stick, J Lock; 2, walking
stick, Sales; 3, walking stick, Elliott.
120 yards Race for Boys under 12 – 1,
walking stick, Master Ellis; 2, writing
requisites, Masters Roser and Head.
150 yards Race for Lads under 16 – 1,
alarum clock, Master Kemp; 2, pen and
pencil set, Master Ford; 3, knife, Master
100 yards Race for Girls under 17 – 1, pair of
vases, Miss Cross; 2, Coronation pin trays,
Miss Lucas; 3, pair scissors, Miss Head.
Sack Race for Senior Men – 1, cigar case,
Ford; 2, pipe in case, T Coomber; 3, match
box, A H Ellis.
Needle Threading and Sewing for Single
Women – 1, workbox, Miss Crowhurst; 2,
clock, Miss Kemp; 3, pencil case, Miss
100 yards Race for Married Women – 1, 1lb
tea, Mrs Wickham; 2, 1/2 lb tea, Mrs Head
400 yards Steeplechase for Junior Men – 1,
writing case, R Scrace; 2, set of brushes, F
Brown; 3, shaving pot, A Pearson.
120 yards Race for Boys under 14 – 1,
writing case, Master Ellis; 2, box of pencils,
Master Head; 3, knife, Master Roser.
120 yards Race for Girls under 15 – 1,
writing requisites, Miss Roser; 2, pen and
pencil set, Miss Bailey; 3, pair scissors, Miss
Three-legged Race for boys under 12 – 1,
box of compasses, Masters Ellis and Head; 2,
working companion, Masters Bashford and
Groombridge; 3, box of colour pencils,
Masters B Kemp and G Pankhurst.
Wheelbarrow Race (blindfold) for Senior
Men – 1, walking stick, Ford; 2, walking
stick, Doyle; 3, walking stick, A H Ellis.
Race for Girls under 12 – 1, pen and pencil
set, Miss Bailey; 2, pair of scissors, Miss
Ethel Ford; 3, pair of scissors, Miss M Bird.
Race for Boys under 12 – 1, pen and pencil
set, G Roser; 2, knife, W Roser; 3, colour
pencils, C Baldwin.
Obstacle Race for Junior Men - 1, “Don”
shaving set, R Scrace; 2, alarm clock, F
No competitor was allowed to take more than
one first prize, two second or three third
prizes and not more than three prizes in all.