Royal Visits to Mansfield
Although a royal manor and set in the midst of a royal hunting forest, there is no record of a king or queen visiting Mansfield in medieval times. The only indication that there may have been a royal presence in the town is the area known as King’s Stand which appeared on Ordnance Survey maps until quite recent years. This area, now swallowed up by a sand quarry, was by the side of Berry Hill Lane, almost opposite Berry Hill Hall.
The term “King’s Stand” is common on old maps of royal hunting forests, and indicates the area where a royal hunting party would await the game being driven towards them by beaters. Of course in medieval times Mansfield would have been much s maller than it is today, and King’s Stand would have been deep in Sherwood Forest and not, as now, in the suburbs.
If there is little evidence of any royal visit to Mansfield in medieval times, the opposite is the case with nearby Clipstone. Although the only physical evidence on the ground are the few remains of King John’s Palace, Clipstone was visited by every monarch from Henry II to Richard II, and was even the site of a Parliament in 1290, in the reign of Edward I. The first recorded royal visit to Mansfield did not take place until as late as 1881, when Prince Leopold, the fourth and youngest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, passed through the town on the 29th June. It was not an official visit, indeed the townsfolk had very little warning that he would passing through Mansfield at all. The Prince and his royal party were being driven in open horse- drawn carriages from Bestwood Lodge, the home of the Duke and Duchess of St. Alban’s, to Welbeck Abbey, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Portland, and stopped for a change of horses at the Swan Hotel.
The first official visit to Mansfield took place fifteen years later, on the 19th December 1896, when the Duke and Duchess of York (the future King George V and Queen Mary) travelled to the town by horse-drawn carriage from Welbeck Abbey, passing through Warsop and Mansfield Woodhouse. A reception was held in the Market Place in front of thc Town Hall where the royal couple were welcomed by the Mayor, Robert Barringer, and an address was read by the Town Clerk, John Harrop White. The Duke and Duchess later departed from the Midland Station on a special train to London.
On the 25th June 1914, King George V and Queen Mary paid the first official visit to Mansfield.
As King George V and Queen Mary the royal couple made two further official visits to Mansfield, in 1914 and 1928, while in 1912 the Queen made a brief visit to inspect the general hospital, when she and her husband, the King, were staying as guests of the Duke of Portland at Welbeck Abbey.
As on their previous visit a reception was held in front of the Town Hall in the Market Place, and they then made a tour of the town which included a visit to the Rock Valley factory of Barringer, Wallis and Manners Ltd, tin box manufacturers, before going on to Forest Town where they visited the Drill Hall and lnstitute as well as (in an unscheduled diversion) the home of Mr. & Mrs Mottishaw, a miner and his wife. The King and Queen also opened the King Edward VII wing of the General Hospital before moving on to visit Mansfield Woodhouse and Warsop.
Their official visit on the 11th July, 1928 – their first by car – was a comparatively short visit. They arrived in the Market Place on the Wednesday morning and after a reception there, moved on to Nottingham Road where they greeted by 7000 elementary schoolchildren, before driving to Nottingham. In the evening, on their return from Nottingham, the King and Queen visited Mansfield Woodhouse and a reception was held in their honour at Yeoman Hill Park.
The Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VIII and, upon his subsequent abdication, the Duke of Windsor, visited Mansfield twice. An official visit took place on the 1st August 1923, at which he was welcomed by about 5,000 school children gathered in the Market Place in front of the Town Hall. The second visit was ten years later and a was a much formal affair – indeed only a few people were aware of his presence.
It took place on a Saturday evening on the 11th February 1933, when the Prince, accompanied by the Duchess of Portland, first visited an unemployment Social Centre in Mansfield, where the Prince was able to have an informal chat with unemployed miners, before moving on to visit Harlow Wood Orthopaedic Hospital.
This hospital had been officially opened three and a half years earlier- by the Duchess of York the future Queen Elizabeth, consort of King George VI, and mother of the present Queen Elizabeth II, when she visited Mansfield on the 4th August 1929.
During the Second World War, on the 27th April 1944, the Princess Royal visited the General Hospital.
On the 29th June 1949, Princess Elizabeth (later to become Queen Elizabeth II) and her husband The Duke of Edinburgh came to Mansfield to lay the foundation stone at the Portland Training College. The following year, on the 24th July 1950, Queen Elizabeth, consort of King George VI, formally opened the College.
1977 marked the silver jubilee of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, and to mark the event Her Majesty undertook a tour of her realm, visiting Mansfield on the 28th July. It was an occasion of great excitement and drew massive crowds.
The Queen, and her husband Prince Philip, officially opened the new public library, and then went on a walkabout along Westgate before signing the visitors book Town Hall.
On the 7th February 1985, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, the Prince and Princess of Wales, visited Mansfield.