A little something to put last year’s celebrations into context. This is how Bristol celebrated the 50th anniversary of the coronation of King George III, mad king George, the one who let America go independent and built the empire. What might he have achieved if he’d been sane?
“Notwithstanding the gloomy condition of British affairs, international as well as domestic, the commencement of the fiftieth year of the reign of George III was celebrated on the 23rd of October with much rejoicing. A triumphal arch was erected in Corn Street near St Werburgh’s Church, under which the mayor and members of the Corporation passed in procession on their way to the mayor’s chapel. Large congregations also attended divine service in the various places of worship. Subsequently, as the result of a liberal subscription, to which the Corporation contributed £220, distributions of meat, etc., were made to several thousand poor people, the children in the endowed schools were treated with cake and wine, and about twenty miserable debtors liberated from Newgate. In the evening a gigantic bonfire was lighted on Brandon Hill, and lighted barrels were kicked about on corn Street. A more permanent memorial of the king’s ‘happy reign’ was devised in St Paul’s parish, the foundation-stone of an obelisk being laid during the day in Portland Square, in the presence of the volunteer corps of the city and neighbourhood. In the following April the obelisk was superseded by what the newspapers termed “a very fine statue of his Majesty,” the pedestal of which bore an inscription expressive of the gratitude of the subscribers for “the blessings enjoyed under the best of kings.” The size of the figure is not recorded, but the editor of the Gazette asserted that in point of execution it was equal to the work of “Flaxman and Nollekens.” On March 23, 1813, the night after one of “Orator Hunt’s” demagogical performances on one of the brazen pillars at the Exchange, a party of eight or ten men entered the enclosure in Portland square and flung down the statue, which was so much injured that it was never replaced. One of the perpetrators of this act was sentenced, at the ensuing quarter sessions, to twelve months’ imprisonment.