Margate's Triumphal Arches

Anthony Lee

Newspaper Reports of the Celebrations for the visits of the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles in 1865 and 1875.

Kentish Gazette May 23 1865

ROYAL EAST KENT MOUNTED RIFLES. This regiment assembled at Margate, for eight days' permanent duty, on Wednesday, and the inhabitants of the most popular of Kentish watering places gave them a right royal reception. Four o'clock was the hour at which the regimental muster was fixed to take place, at the "Hussar" Inn, Garlinge, and shortly after that hour the Margate Artillery and Rifle Corps marched out to meet them. It appeared, however, that Wednesday being Sandwich market day, some members of the visiting corps were unable to reach Garlinge until a later hour, and it was not until nearly six o'clock that the strains of martial music reached the ears of the multitude assembled in the Marine Terrace, every available part of which was crowded to an extent probably never before witnessed. The balconies were crowded with the residents and their visitors, and the door-steps were seized upon and occupied at least two hours before there was anything to see. Private carriages proceeded backwards and forwards, and hired vehicle owners drove a roaring trade. The ginger-beer vendor was there with his well remembered "moke," and thousands upon thousands of pedestrians promenaded the footpaths, in eager anticipation of the coming event. Meanwhile the Mounted Rifles started from Garlinge, about a quarter of mile from which village the local corps fell in and preceded them, their band heralding the approach. The excitement at this time was something to look at, and loud cheers greeted the foremost rank of horsemen as they appeared at the Buenos Ayres turning. Here the decorations commenced, the Railway Stations and Cinque Ports Arms being gaily bedecked with quantities of large and brilliant bunting. Manly voices cheered, fair hands waved handkerchiefs, flags streamed from every balcony and even lampposts, and crowds of people of both sexes and every age and class smiled a kindly greeting upon them. The long line pressed on past the Marine Green with its lofty flag-staff, exquisite wreaths of evergreen and numberless triangular flags, to the first arch which crossed the street near the Elephant Hotel. Turning, then, down High Street, and passing the house of the Mayor, who had mounted the Cinque Ports Arms with a trophy of flags, they came in view of the greatest of all our triumphs — the great double arch, crossing High Street from the King's Head to Mr. Bentley's and Mr. Freebody's. Its lofty pillars are twined evergreen, with which the upper portion is also covered, while it droops in beautiful festoons down the walls of the houses, intertwined harmoniously with flags and streamers of all sorts, shapes, and shades. Down the hill are more flags and another evergreen arch opposite Mr. Prebble's. Round the corner, the coup d’oeil presented by the Marine Parade was strikingly beautiful. The leading idea of the stranger must have been that the whole mercantile marine of England had lent the Parade their flags for the occasion. Line after line of banners of every kind crossed the full width of the Parade. All the shops and lampposts had decorations, and the background formed by the enormous display of Mr. James Stevens, Mr. Fagg, and  Mr. Akhurst made the place appear as if it was positively lined and ceiled with bunting. Mr. Ford had a star and flag, and, indeed, those without some ornament were very few.

            Upper High Street was not behind its neighbours. Crossing from Mr. Bentley's to Mr. Twyman's was a very handsome and substantial arch, clothed with flags and evergreens, and bearing various mottoes and devices. The good old copy book advice “Seek every opportunity to do good," may have seemed rather trite and scarcely apropos, but it had the merit of offending no one. Lofty poles lined the street towards St. John's Church, each bearing a flag, and another arch of imposing dimensions and design crossed at the Star Inn. Queen Street was crossed by flags, St. John's Church bore its ensign, and indeed we may settle the matter in a few words, that scarcely a street, however obscure, failed to do honour to the occasion.

            But the evening was the time to see Margate. The promenaders were to be numbered by tens of thousands, the varied uniforms, the ladies dresses and the more sombre "mufti" of the civilians combined to make the scene singularly striking. As soon as it became dark, the various illuminations on each of the arches were brought into play, a band of music struck up, a dozen young men marched through the town vociferating popular airs, moderate and decent conviviality reigned supreme. One might rather have fancied oneself dropped into the midst of a Venetian carnival than into a sober English watering place, slightly touched with a musical and military mania, with a decided dash of method in its madness.

            In conformity with a regimental order issued by the Colonel commandant, the regiment was to muster at the "Hussar" at Garlinge, at half-past four, and proceed thence to Margate, but it was past five before the order was given for the column to advance. The whole of the right wing of the Cinque Ports Volunteer Artillery, under the command of Major Rae, and the Margate and Ramsgate Volunteer Rifles under the command of Major Cox, assembled near the York Hotel, shortly before four, and proceeded to Garlinge, for the purpose of meeting their brothers in arms. On their arrival the column was formed as follows: — Ramsgate and Margate Rifle and Artillery corps; the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles bringing up the rear. In this order the column entered Margate by the way of the Marine Parade, and proceeded to the York Hotel, and on their arrival there, the Rifle and Artillery corps were formed in line at the rear, while the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles took their position to the front, where the Mayor (T. H. Keble, Esq.), and the following members of the Corporation were awaiting them : — Aldermen Hunter, Mercer, Price and Standring, and Councillors Wardell, Gardner, J. H. Boys, Rapson, Lyon, Kendall, Edwards, and Saunders, the Rev. Canon Bateman, W. Brooke, Esq., Town Clerk, &c. The line having been formed the Mayor advanced and addressed Colonel Mountcharles. He said he had great pleasure for himself, the Aldermen, Councillors and Burgesses to welcome his lordship and the officers and gentlemen of the East Kent Rifles to Margate. The burgesses felt highly flattered by their visit, and he hoped nothing would occur to make his lordship regret the choice that had been made for the Yeomanry to meet at Margate this year. The Mayor then introduced to the Earl of Mountcharles, the Aldermen and Councillors of the Borough, Mr. W. Brooke, the Town Clerk, and the Rev. Canon Bateman, Vicar of the parish. His lordship, in reply, spoke in the highest terms of the reception given to the Yeomanry by the inhabitants of Margate, assured the Mayor that he and his brother officers, and the gentlemen connected with his regiment, were most gratified by the noble feeling which had been exhibited by the burgesses of Margate. His lordship then invited the Mayor to dine with him and the officers. Invitations were also given to the Vicar, Major Rae, Major Cox, and the officers connected with the Artillery and Rifle Corps.

            At the conclusion of this ceremony the captains of troops were called to the front, and received their commands, after which the troops filed off from the right for the purpose of receiving instructions as to their future drills. In the evening the town again assumed a more lively appearance, the arches being lit with gas, and several private individuals having illuminations, prominent amongst which we noticed a large star the York Hotel, the head quarters of the regiment, and similar stars in front of Mr. Ford's, Marine Parade, the Railway Tavern, High Street; but the best and most brilliant one was affixed near the Kent Hotel. The mottoes on the arches were very appropriate and deserve special mention. On turning to the right after leaving the Marine Parade a large arch caught the eye, which was inscribed "A general welcome from all salutes you," surmounted by the letters "V.R." and supported by the initial letters "E.K.M.R." On the reverse of this arch was the motto "Seek every opportunity to do good," surmounted and supported similar to that on the other side. Proceeding a few yards further up the street another arch met the view on which was inscribed "Welcome as the flowers in May," above which were the letters “V.R.," the whole being surmounted by the motto of the volunteer forces of Great Britain, “Defence not Defiance." The reverse of this arch bore precisely the same inscription. On walking down the street the largest of the arches erected met the view. This arch was composed of evergreens, and bore no motto, but beneath it was suspended a large gas star, which had a very pretty effect when lit up in the evening.

South Eastern Gazette 23 May 1865

MARGATE.—East Kent Mounted Rifles.— The arrival of this distinguished corps at Margate will be long remembered. For some days preparations had been in progress, in the erection of triumphal arches, &c. There were three arches in High-street, of neat design; one in Duke-street, and one in Fort-road, bearing the inscription, “6th C.P.A.V.” All the bunting available was hung out from steeples and windows. Soon after noon the trains of the London, Chatham, and Dover and South Eastern Railways began to pour in hundreds after hundreds of visitors, and at a more advanced period of the afternoon locomotion was difficult. It is long since the town has presented, such a holiday appearance, for in addition to the trains every village furnished its quota of visitors.

            The rendezvous named by Adjutant Hesketh was the little hostelry, appropriately named the Hussar, at Garlinge, about a mile and a half from the town. The time fixed for assembling was 4.30, before which hour a great number had put in their appearance. The road to this little village, from three o’clock till six, presented all the appearance of the road to Epsom on the Derby Day. There were the smart equipages of the gentry, the hired flys and basket chaises, mingled with the market cart and the heavily-laden waggon. Every spot of vantage ground along the whole route was made the most of; the windows of the houses in the Upper and Lower Marine-terrace were filled with fair spectators, and this fine entrance into Margate was never seen to better advantage. The volunteer corps of this place, both Artillery and Rifles, turned out to do honour to their companions in arms. With the Margate Artillery Corps were Lieut. Cramp, and Major Rae, of the Administrative Brigade; Ramsgate Artillery, Capt. Sicklemore, 1st Lieut. Cramp. 2nd Lieut. Stevens, and Surgeon Thompson: Margate Rifles, Capt. Sankey; Ramsgate Rifles, Capt. Wilkie and Ensign Rammell. The Deal and Sandwich Artillery Corps were expected, but did not arrive. The volunteers marched out on the Garlinge-road, and took up their position midway between that and the railway bridge.

            About five o’clock the Mounted Rifles, 225 in number, started, and on coming up with the volunteers they were saluted by them, and then the latter formed up, and preceded the Mounted Rifles into the town; the brass band of the Ramsgate Rifles playing very effectively, in addition to that of the Margate corps. The drum and fife band of the Ramsgate Artillery Corps, under Bandmaster Corke also did themselves much credit. When the procession was defiling through the Terrace, the scene presented was one which will not soon be forgotten by the thousands that had there congregated. Such a demonstration must have been very gratifying to the Mounted Rifles, whose fine band played at intervals.

            The Mayor and members of the Corporation assembled at the York Hotel, and on Earl Mountcharles alighting the Mayor, addressing him, expressed the great pleasure it gave the inhabitants to have this visit paid them by the East Kent Mounted Rifles, and invited them to the concert to take place at the Assembly Rooms on the following evening. Earl Mountcharles thanked the Mayor and Corporation for the very cordial reception they and the residents had given to himself and troops, and in return invited the Mayor, aldermen, and councillors, to dine at the York Hotel, which they did in the evening. We must not omit to mention that both railway stations were tastefully decorated, as also was the adjoining hotel of Mr. Munns.

            The town throughout the evening was very gay, and as it became dark the various arches were illuminated. Our townsman’s, Mr. T. Bentley’s, was very prominent, and the Artillery Volunteers’, in the Fort-road, also had a very pleasing effect. All appeared to vie with each other in seeing how they could honour their guests. At nine o’clock the Ramsgate Artillery Corps assembled in the Market­place, and, headed by their band, proceeded by way of Duke-street, High-street, and the Marine-terrace, to the London, Chatham, and Dover station. A pleasing incident occurred just as they turned into the New-road. Coloured fires were lit on each side of them, which illuminated the whole road, and were continued with varied effect to the station, where, after playing several tunes, they left by the 9.20 train for home. It was long before the streets resumed their usual quietude. We are glad to say that, although there was such a large assemblage of persons, there were no casualties; and the duties of the police, under Supt. Saunders, were carried out to the satisfaction of a good-natured public, who evidently came out determined to be pleased with all they could see.

            The Decorations.—A correspondent sends the following details of the decorations:—The inhabitants liberally responded to the suggestion made by the Mayor relative to decorating the town on the occasion of this first visit of the regiment to Margate, and the triumphal arches were very attractive. In noticing some of the principal ones we would refer to those erected in the High-street. That near the King’s Head Hotel was designed expressly for the occasion by Mr. Wheeler, and has been much admired. That near the Elephant Hotel, the first on entering the town, is not so important as its position requires, being very simple, with the Mayor’s name on a banner; that near the Globe Tavern is very similar. There are two in the upper part of High-street; one between Messrs. Bentley’s and the Prince of Wales Tavern, and the other opposite the Star Inn; both from designs by our townsman, Mr. J. P. Smith, and reflecting great credit on that gentleman. The former bears two mottoes; one from Shakspeare’s Henry VIII: “A general welcome from us all salutes you;” and on the reverse, “Seek every opportunity to do good,” surmounted with the Kent Arms, V.R., and the letters E.K.M.R., illuminated at night with the fleur-de-lis in gas. The upper arch bearing the motto “Welcome as the Flowers in May” and “ Defence, not defiance” on either side, surmounted, as the last-named, with an illuminated star at night. The next in importance may be mentioned one near the Fountain Hotel, erected by the Margate Volunteer Artillery, which is very attractive, and has a gallery for the band of that corps, with the letters 6th C.P.A.V., illuminated with gas at night. These with the many stars and other fixtures in various parts of the town, the abundance of flags and banners of all descriptions, presented an appearance of no ordinary character, and one that will not be easily forgotten. The young ladies of Mrs. Goodyear’s establishment rendered large service in connection with the decorations.

Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald May 22 1875

THE ROYAL EAST KENT MOUNTED RIFLES. The Royal East Kent Rifles are undergoing permanent duty in this place, and, as usual, the reception they met with on entering the borough on Whit-Monday was cordial and fitting in every respect. The inhabitants of Margate are well-known for the thoroughly hearty manner in which they carry out public receptions, and the greeting accorded to their old visitors the Kentish Yeomanry was in no way inferior to that given on the three previous occasions when they were on permanent duty in Margate. Less novelty, it is true, attached to the event than was the case ten or twelve years since, but it was evident to all that the welcome was none the less sincere. All know that a greater visitor is expected in the course of two or three months, and it is probable that there was less extravagance in the work of decorating on that account, but, as it is, none could have accused the inhabitants of the slightest tinge of indifference.

            Venetian masts, with banners, were fixed on both sides of the road from the Royal Crescent to the Albert Terrace, and the authorities erected an arch, which spanned the road from the Elephant Hotel to the houses opposite. This structure was remarkable, inasmuch as the custom usually adopted in the erection of triumphal arches was entirely departed from, the result being work at once interesting and beautiful. Instead of the familiar scaffold-poles, evergreen, and gaudy linen, which frequently fade before completion, a work of some solidity and no mean architectural effect, was entrusted to the Borough Surveyor (Mr. Albert Latham, C.E.), and the inhabitants and visitors watched its progress with great interest as it grew into shape. This arch, as finished, has a really pretty and well proportioned effect, and is an architectural success reflecting much credit on the gentleman above-named, and all who acted under his directions. It is in Tudor Gothic style, with one principal and two side arches, crowned with an open battlement and parapet, and made gay with flags, banners, medallions, shields, buttresses, mottos, the borough arms, and other details of an architectural character. The mottos are "At first and last, the hearty welcome" (from Shakespere's "Macbeth") and  “To say you are welcome were superfluous" (from Shakespere's "Pericles"), both being in gold, the former on blue and the latter on red ground. The frame-work being timber and lose-boarded, the external work is distempered and finished off in imitation of ancient stone-work, and the delusion is perfect, especially when illuminated at night. It is hoped the structure will remain for some period, for it would be a pity to relegate this work of enterprise and art to the timber-yard. The other decorations are numerous and varied. Flags abound in all parts of the centre of the town, flying from lighthouse, pier, jetty, hotels, ships in the harbour, and in fact from every available place. The Royal York Hotel, the head-quarters of the regiment, presented a very pretty appearance, prominent among its decorations being two illuminated stars. Mr. Adley, of King-street had an illumination over his window, and there was an arch in New Inn yard. The High-street is handsomely festooned in a novel and effective manner, from the Elephant Hotel to near the Parade, crossing and re-crossing the street at uniform distances. The festoons are caught up in the centre to a height nearly 20ft., by an almost invisible agent, wires being used to suspend them from housetop to house-top.  Each festoon, of which there are about 20  sets, finishes with a banner and cluster  of pendant flags, suspended from them being a basket of  flowers. To these latter are suspended, at night, Chinese lanterns; the effect, especially after the hour of lighting, being unique. The flags and flowers were kindly made by Mrs. D. B. Kennard, Miss Smart, and a number of ladies. We are informed by Mr. D. B. Kennard, who cheerfully undertook and ably designed and carried out this work, that one mile of evergreen wreathing was used in it. . . .

             The regiment assembled at the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway station yard at 4 o'clock on Monday, some of the horses and men arriving by road and others by rail. But long before this time the Marine Terrace, Albert Terrace, and High Street were crowded by visitors (some thousands of whom were Whitsuntide holiday makers), residents, and persons from the adjacent villages. At  half-past 4 o'clock the entry into the town commenced. Foremost came the two volunteer corps headed by their bands, Captain Sankey, of the Rifle Corps, being in command. The other officers present were Captain-Commandant Dorman and Lieutenant Drewe of the Artillery, and Lieutenants White and Skinner of the Rifles. Then came the splendid band of the Yeomanry, under the leadership of Mr. Mount, of Canterbury; the regiment being headed by their noble commander, the Earl of Mountcharles, and Major Pemberton, M.P. The strength was as follows: A troop (Faversham), Captain Lord Harris and Lieut. W. E. Rigden, and 26 rank and file; B troop (Dover), Captain the Earl of Guilford, Lieut. Lord Conyers and 27; C troop (Sittingbourne). Captain Loftus Pemberton, Lieut. Luck, 28; D troop (Canterbury), Captain Prescott, Supernumerary Captain the Marquis of Ormonde, Lieut. Bere, and 40; E troop (Elham), Captain MacKinnon; and F troop (Ashford) Lieut. A. Denne. 27. Adjutant and Captain Limbert, Dr. Wilks, and Veterinary Surgeon T. Jex were also present, and several others have arrived during the week. The route taken was Marine Terrace down High Street, across the Parade, through King  Street, up Hawley Street, to Cecil Square; the volunteer bands playing alternately. Here the men were drawn into line, and after the regimental band had played a popular tune and arrangements had been made for the morning's drill, they were dismissed.

            In the evening, thousands of persons inspected the illuminations and decorations, all being gratified with the appropriate manner in which they were carried out. There were special entertainments at the four places of amusement, all being largely patronized.