FEARBY SILVER JUBILEE 1977 (1977) film no: 2095
Part of the Nunn Collection, this film documents the festivities which took place for the Silver Jubilee in the village of Fearby, North Yorkshire.
Title – Fearby and District Silver Jubilee Committee
Title – present
Title – A Few Highlights of the Silver Jubilee Celebrations 7th June 1977
A Union Jack flag flies high on a flagpole.
Title – Some activities were dark secrets………..
A man and woman are decorating a float using red and white underwear for the flag decorations. Other men are working on a float, and a man plays with a fake axe. On the floats, there are displays, one which looks like an altar, and another which looks like a totem pole.
Title - … but others are quite open
A woman is standing on a stepladder and hanging small flags at the top of her door. The Black Swan pub is decorated with bunting and flags, and other houses are shown, each with decorated doors. In one house, a woman cleans the inside of her windows.
Title – Some folks had work to do…..
A man drives a tractor on a field in order to level the ground. Following this is more footage of the decorated houses around the village.
Title - ….. others had done their whack
Three men stand near a tractor where they have a cigarette, and there are more decorated doors.
Sign – The Busy Hands of the W.I.
There is an exhibition of work by the Women’s Institute which includes paintings on display.
Title – The Parade
The floats are all pulled through the street by tractors. They are all decorated, and the members of the village who ride on the floats are all in costume. There is a float with “Wild Indians” and another with a banner which reads, “First the Axeman Now the Taxman.”
Title – The Fancy Dress Judging
Small children dressed in costume wait with their parents while the judging takes place. Some are dressed as historical or traditional figures, while others are dressed as more contemporary characters including Batman and Robin. A large crowd has gathered around, and there are many close-ups of individuals taking part in the fancy dress competition.
Title – And all sorts of sports
People stand near caravan and hold up a rope which is used as a finish line. First up are the children’s races. Boys and girls compete in running races, sack races, and relay races. Next, men play the traditional Yorkshire game of Quoits. A crowd has lined up on either side to watch the game. Other interesting games include the egg-catching contest and Wellington boot-throwing competition. Next, adults participate in running races, a three-legged race, and a tug-of-war. The film closes with another shot of a Union Jack flying high on the flagpole.
Title – The End.
This film was made by amateur filmmaker John Nunn. John made many films during the 1950s,’60s and ‘70s of family life, his interest in the railway and of local events. The first film in the Collection dates back to 1930, and then comes a gap until 1950. The early films were made in 9.5 mm, before switching to 16mm around 1953/54. He also made some 200 VHS video tapes recording village life in Masham during the 1980s and 1990s.
Fearby is a small village in the Masham area of the Yorkshire Dales National Park; noted for an 18th century folly, a reproduction of a Druids' temple that is now a listed building. Also still standing is the Black Swan pub, seen in the film, now well-known for its cuisine.
The celebrations were one among many thousands that took place across the country (some 12,000 street parties). It came in the wake of a turbulent period for the Windsor family. The year before, on 19th March 1976, came the announcement of the legal separation between Princess Margaret and Lord Snowden – overshadowing the announcement of Harold Wilson’s resignation as Prime Minister the same day. This followed fast on the heels of a News of the World front page story with a photograph of the Princess with Roddy Llewellyn – a baron, and gardening expert, eighteen years her junior – in swimsuits on Mustique. The marriage with Lord Snowden in 1960 – then plain Antony Armstrong-Jones, a photographer; the first commoner to marry a king's daughter for 450 years – had long been an unhappy one, and a source of embarrassment, with both being openly unfaithful.
The good will for the Royal family could not be taken for granted. Some years later came the Annus Horribilis of 1992 when her second son, Prince Andrew, would separate from his wife Sarah, Princess Anne got divorced from Mark Phillips, and Prince Charles and Diana officially separated (not to mention the fire at Windsor Castle). And, of course, there was a very sour period that followed the death of Diana in 1997, when the Queen was accused in much of the press of being indifferent and heartless – only leaving Balmoral for London after much persuasion.
Yet the Royal family was in 1977 still very popular, and has remained so since. Although there is evidence that the monarchy isn’t as popular as it once was, still, a survey carried out by the ICM for the Guardian newspaper, just before the Royal wedding of 2011, found that 75% of the population believed the wedding would cheer people up. Yet the survey also found that only 37% agree that they are genuinely interested in the wedding, while 46% said they were not, and with only 18% stating that they are strongly interested in the event – women were much more likely to be interested than men. Even so, the wedding still got the highest viewing figures for the year – see the Context for Coronation Processions - Harrogate And London (1953). Moreover, it also found that 63% of British people believed that the country is better off because of the monarchy, compared with 26% believing the country would be better off without the royals, and 11% undecided. See also the Context for Tickhill Coronation Celebrations for more on the popularity of the Monarchy.
As with so many issues, it would be fair to say that there is a sizeable proportion of the population strongly in favour of the monarchy, a similar proportion strongly opposed, and a large section in between who don’t have very strong views, and are only mildly inclined one way or the other. There are also some differences in the level of support between city and countryside, and between north and south; with Union Jack bunting much more in evidence in London than in Sheffield in 1977. The support that the monarchy does have, in a supposedly modern and democratic society, has had many explanations.
One such explanation was summed up by Michael Portillo – when he was Margaret Thatcher’s heir-apparent, before reinventing himself as a radio and TV presenter – who said of the Monarchy in 1994 that, “Above all it is the personification of the nation.” Not surprisingly, this view ties the monarchy in with ideas of the nation, and hence, of patriotism – there being a strong connection between patriotism and British colonialism. Historians have pointed out that the idea of an English, let alone a British, nation is a construction, and different periods in English history can be seen as being pivotal in constructing such an identity. Thus, for example, what the English Defence League see as constituting the English or British nation has little in common with what Billy Bragg does. In the 1970s the arrival of Asian immigrants fuelled a British nationalism that the Royal family has long been a symbol of. Those with a jingoistic mentality have used this association for their own racist agenda.
Roy Strong, among others, makes a case for the birth of a notion of Britishness more or less during the period of Elizabeth’s namesake’s reign, Elizabeth I, between 1558 and 1603. It was then that both popular and learned histories of the Isle were written which did much to create a national narrative and mythology: such as Holinshed’s Chronicles and William Camden’s Britannia. Yet Krishan Kumar argues that it wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that a popular English nationalism was born – well after Britishness – mainly in response to growing nationalism elsewhere. It can also be claimed that Henry VIII got the ball underway by breaking with Rome and establishing the Church of England in 1534, with the Sovereign as its “Supreme Governor” (as well as being Head of State).
Joseph Hardwick of the University of York has provided a useful overview of some recent contributions by historians on what ‘Britishness’ is; whilst Tom Nairn has written perhaps the most in depth examination of the relationship between the Monarchy and the British people (References). One explanation for its popularity, which is picked up by Nairn, was identified by Richard Hoggart in his 1957 book on working class attitudes, The Uses of Literacy, where he notes that the Monarchy is considered as above the class division of ‘Us’ and ‘Them’. It is this neutral place that the Monarchy is deemed to occupy that helps it appear as a ‘personification of the nation’, and gives it a broad appeal. Nevertheless, for many, and not just those who have recently settled in the country, this appeal represents a set of values and a culture that is still far too narrow.
Billy Bragg, The Progressive Patriot, Black Swan, 2007.
Richard Hoggart, The Uses of Literacy: Aspects of Working Class Life, Chatto and Windus, 1957.
Edwin Jones, The English Nation: the Great Myth, Sutton Publishing, Stroud, 1997
Krishan Kumar, The Making of English National Identity, Cambridge University Press, 2003.
Tom Nairn, The Enchanted Glass: Britain and Its Monarchy, revised edition, Verso, 2011.
Roy Strong, Visions of England, The Bodley Head, London, 2011.
Will you have a Diamond Jubilee street party?
Monarchy still broadly relevant, Britons say
Indifference to the monarchy, hostility to Britain becoming a republic
Joseph Hardwick, Historians and 'Britishness'
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