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This page last updated on: Friday 8 March, 2002

Queen Victoria's Visit to Wimpole (1843)

Extracts from Queen Victoria's Journal.

See also "When Queen Victoria Visited" - a short adaptation by David Ellison of reports carried in the Cambridge Chronicle (issues for 28 October and 4 November 1843).

The following are extracts from Queen Victoria's Journal in the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle, detailing a visit to Wimpole Hall, then the seat of Charles Yorke RN, 4th Earl of Hardwicke (1799-1873). The Earl had been appointed a Lord-in-Waiting to the Queen in 1841. Two year's later, the Queen and the Prince Consort stayed at Wimpole for two nights, on the second of which a ball for 800 guests was given. Queen Victoria was twenty four years of age at the time of the visit. The extracts following are taken from the Orwell Bulletin, March 1980 issue.

Queen Victoria's Journal

Wednesday 25 October 1843:

"We breakfasted at 7, and half an hour later, set off from Windsor with Feodora & Ernest, Lady Mt Edgecumbe (who has just come into waiting), Miss Stanley, Lords de la Warr, Anson and the Equerries, accompanying us. Went by rail to London, where, at Paddington Station, we parted from Feodora & Ernest who were going shopping and sightseeing in London.

Got into our new, and most comfortable Post Chaise, and set off on our journey to Cambridge. The day cleared, as it advanced, and gradually became quite fine. We read, alternately, Albert & I, out of 1812, most of the way, & nearly finished the 2nd vol. It was really fearfully interesting, & we got quite engrossed in it. The description of the breaking out of the fire in Moscow is most vivid & thrilling.

queen victoria.jpg (9864 bytes) Queen Victoria (aged 24)

We changed horses 1st at Manor House, next, at Waltham Cross, having passed through Tottenham, Edmonton & Enfield Wash. To the right, as one leaves Waltham Cross, stands one of those beautiful old Crosses, which were erected, wherever the body of Queen Eleanor (wife of Edward 1st) rested, but we passed by too quickly, to see it well. 3rdly we changed horses at Ware, having passed through Warenley, Broxbourne & Hadelisdon; 4thly at Buntingford (where we got out) after passing through Ward's Mill, Collier's End and Puckeridge; 5thly at Melbourne, passing before through Buckland, Reed Hill & Royston.

At Royston Lord Hardwicke met us, at the head of his Yeomanry, 2000 in number. Royston was decorated with flags & flowers & was full of people, as were all the towns and villages we passed through, & we were received most kindly. In many places triumphal arches has been erected. Two inscriptions I must name as they were so quaint: "Good save Queen Victoria & her loving friend, Prince Albert"!!! - and the other: "God save our Gracious Majesty"!!

The country from Royston is very flat and ugly. After Melbourne (sic) passed through Harlston & Trumpington, reaching Cambridge at half past 2. At the entrance to the town, we were met by the Mayor & Corporation, who walked before us. The town was densely crowded & much decorated & the reception given us very hearty.  There is one very narrow street before one gets to Trinity College at the gates of which we were received by the Vice Chancellor, (Professor Whewell, the Master of Trinity), & all the Dignitaries, and including Mr Goulburn. The Courtyard of the College is very large and handsome, with a fine fountain in the centre, built in the time of James IInd. The Courtyard was filled with the Scholars (about 2000) who gave us a most enthusiastic welcome. The Master presented the Keys, saying the College was placed at my service. We then drove to the Lodge…."

Thursday 26 October 1843:

[Prince Albert receives an honorary degree from the university, then]  "….At half past 4 we left Cambridge in our Post Chaise, amidst tremendous cheering in the streets, many of the Undergraduates running with us, even when the carriage went at a quick pace. Before I left, I had given Mrs Whewell a bracelet. Mr Goulburn told us as we went away that we had "gratified the people of Cambridge beyond measure" & we were both much pleased & gratified.

Victorias Arrival.gif (24569 bytes)

This print of Queen Victoria's arrival at Wimpole Hall in 1843 is by an unknown newspaper artist who produced a souvenir broadsheet which appeared in the Cambridge Advertiser.

A number of horseman joined us as soon as we left Cambridge, riding with us, pushing & jostling one another, until we reached Wimpole, which we did at half past 5. Lord Hardwicke received us at the door. The house is large & comfortable, & we are very well lodged, having a Drawing Room on the ground floor, & up a private stairs, a nice bedroom & 2 dressing rooms. I felt somewhat tired and knocked up and rested till dinner, at 8.

We dined in a nice Dining Room, full of Family pictures & portraits. Beside Lord and Lady Hardwicke - the Normanbys, Cannings and Lord Caledon are staying in the house, the Duke of Rutland & Lord Exeter, only for the night, & Lord Hardwicke's 3 brothers, with their wives, dined. Lord Hardwicke led me in and sat next to me."

Friday 27 October 1843:

"Attended prayers in an old Chapel in the House, and then breakfasted, after which we walked out. It was very cold but fine. The pleasure grounds and gardens are very nice, and all, in excellent order. The house built of red brick, is large, & has two wings & two flights of steps outside. Albert went out shooting. We lunched downstairs with the company, in the Library, a fine large room, with a bow window. The 7 children were there - nice children. Victor, a year and a half old, is my godson, a fine boy, & the youngest of all is a fine baby boy, 3 months old.

At 3 I drove with Lady Hardwicke, Lady Normanby, and Lady Mt Egecumbe, Albert riding with Lord Hardwicke and the other gentleman. We drove over Bourne, Lord de la Warr's place, which is a curious old one, the house built of red brick, with stone facings, of the period of James Ist, & very well restored. There is a curious old chimney piece, which Lord de la Warr took out of a house in which Queen Elizabeth slept, and out of the very room. We walked around the gardens, which is quite in the old fashioned style. The place is rather small and rather 'triste'.

On our return, I read to Albert a letter from Lord Ellenborough, giving an account of hostile dispositions, by some of the neighbouring chiefs, and enclosing a letter from Sir Charles Napier showing the fallacy of all the accusations against him. We dined at half past 7. The Duke of Rutland & Lord Exeter gone, but otherwise the same company with the addition of the High Sheriff & the 2 County members.

After dinner, we went into the gallery, which was full of guests, & there was a very pretty little Ball. The room was beautifully decorated with flowers. All the masters of Colleges from Cambridge with their families and several of the young Nobility, & a number of the neighbours, the ladies being wonderfully well dressed, - were there. The 4 eldest Children appeared, very nicely dressed, & little Agneta looked so pretty. I danced three quadrilles, with Lord Hardwicke, Lord Canning, & Lord Caledon. We went in to supper at 11, and after that to bed.

Saturday 28 October 1943:

"After our breakfast we walked to the Farm which is beautiful & we were shown a heifer being prepared for the Show at Smithfield, - a great beauty - also the young calves, pigs, & fowls. Albert was interested in examining the various ploughs. We also visited the Dairy, which is very pretty. At quarter past 11, we left Wimpole, after I had given Lady Hardwicke a Bracelet, & my godson a small present. Lord Hardwicke & his brothers accompanied us to Royston, 6 miles, where we first changed horses."

The editor of the Orwell Bulletin noted in 1980 that the Queen presumably drove from Cambridge along the Barton Road (now the A603) and then turned into the Wimpole estate at the eastern entrance (at the foot of Orwell Hill), before approaching the Hall along what became known as Victoria Drive. A new Lodge (known thereafter as Victoria Lodge) was built especially for the visit.

The Lodge building was demolished around 1950 but the entrance to the Drive still exists on the north side of the A603, almost opposite the end of Fishers Lane, Orwell.



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