Celebrations for the Signing of the Peace of Paris and the Centenary of the House of Hanover
The short-lived Peace of Paris, combined with the Centenary of the House of Hanover celebrations, produced a summer where the crowned heads of Europe came to London and a series of ostentatious festivities took place.
This culminated in a civic jubilee. Under the direction of the Prince of Wales, Hyde Park, Green Park, and St. James's Park were fitted out as pleasure gardens. There was a Chinese bridge and pagoda, a mock naval battle on the Serpentine, a balloon ascent, and a wooden castle called, "The Temple of Concord."
The Temple of Concord was conceived by Sir William Congreve for the firework display, the temple appearing in a transformation situation. It employed fifty men who during the display turned it from the Temple of Discord. The Times was less than impressed and regarded it in very poor taste.
As Jerry White in his wonderful book "London in the 19th Century," points out, in many ways the event resembled Bartholemew's Fair in the Prince Regent's back garden.
The big day for the "grand national jubilee" was Monday 1st August and was intended to last for the day.
Immense crowds turned up, the pagoda burnt down, and "one or two lives were lost."
However, overall the crowds were recorded as being generally well behaved but did not disappear as intended. The fair refused to move, only dispersing after more than a week with the magistrates and soldiers intervening following reports of "shocking acts of immorality committed in some of the booths or taverns."
On the 12th August, a rumour spread around that the authorities had planned a second entertainment and huge crowds appeared expecting fireworks. When nothing happened the crowds took it on themselves to make a bonfire of the fencing used to protect the Temple of Concord, combined with sentry boxes and anything that they could get their hands on.The fire was so huge that for miles around people assumed that St. James's Palace was ablaze. The crowd only dispersed following action by the cavalry, when "the rabble melted away."
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