Fringe Box



Proclaiming The New Monarch

Published on: 28 Feb, 2012
Updated on: 28 Feb, 2012

 by David Rose

The Queen on her visit to Guildford in 1957, five years after she had ascended to the throne. Her visit marked the 700th anniversary of the granting of the first Charter to the Borough of Guildord by Henry III.

Today (Monday, February 6, 2012), marks the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne.

The event 60 years ago was the fourth time during the 20th century that a solemn announcement had been made saying that the monarch was dead and a new one had ascended to the throne.

Victoria died on January 22, 1901, and was succeeded by Edward VII. He died on May 6, 1910, and was succeeded by George V. Upon his death on January 20, 1936, Edward VIII became king. He, of course, abdicated on December 11, 1936, with the crown passing to George VI. His eldest daughter Elizabeth became queen on February 6, 1952, after the king had died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 56. It came as a great shock, as few knew that he was seriously ill with lung cancer.

Guildford has marked these events with royal proclamations of the incoming monarch soon after their accessions. Large crowds have gathered to hear the High Sheriff of Surrey at the time – surrounded by the mayor and other dignitaries, including councillors, – read the proclamation.

The proclamation of a new monarch is the only function that survives of the ancient County Court, by a grant of Henry III in 1257, to be held in Guildford for all time.

Here are some pictures of Guildford proclamations, plus a rare view of the Guildhall and its balcony draped in black following the death of Edward VII.


At noon on January 31, 1901, the High Sheriff of Surrey, Charles Hoskins Master (the owner of Friary, Holroyd & Healy’s Brewery, and seen holding a large sheet on paper on the left) proclaimed the new King Edward VII from the balcony of the Guildhall in Guildford.
It was estimated that a crowd of 10,000 packed the High Street to hear the proclamation in 1901. No public address systems back then – so anyone not close to the Guildhall may not have heard a word said by the High Sheriff, Charles Hoskins Master.
The balcony of the Guildhall draped in black following the death of Edward VII on May 6, 1910.
The east end of Holy Trinity Church was draped in black and purple as Guildford and the nation mourned the death of Edward VII in 1910.
The High Sheriff of Surrey, Harry Waechter, reads of the proclamation of George V on the balcony of Holy Trinity Church on May 11, 1910.
It was the turn of Sir Laurence Helsey, the High Sheriff of Surrey, in 1936 to read the proclamation of Edward VIII on January 25 of that year.
It was on February 8, 1952. that the then High Sheriff of Surrey, Major F. Paget-Hett, read the proclamation of Queen Elizabeth II on the steps of Holy Trinity Church. I do not have a photograph of the proclamation of George VI in Guildford. If anyone has a photo, I would like to add a copy of it to my collection.

A proclamation to mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee will be made on the steps of Holy Trinity Church in Guildford on Saturday, February 11, at noon, by the current High Sheriff of Surrey,  Professor Michael Joy OBE.

There will be a number of events in Guildford this year to celebrate the Queen’s diamond jubilee, most of them taking place around the first weekend in June.

Nationally, the Queen will lead a flotilla of 1,000 boats along the Thames, while a chain of beacons will be lit across the country.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh intend to travel as widely as possible across the UK, while other members of the royal family will visit the 15 other countries where the Queen is head of state, plus some other Commonwealth countries.

If anyone has a photograph of the proclamation in Guildford of George VI, I would very much like a copy for my collection. Please email me at

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