Friday, July 26, 2013

The Sandhill Wine Pant--July 19, 1821

The coronation of George IV, on July 19, 1821, was the occasion for great celebrations across Britain. This had I think less to do with the fact that the Prince Regent was now crowned king, than the fact that free food and drink--and a holiday--were available in virtually every town in the kingdom.

Newcastle upon Tyne in the north-east of England was no exception. Celebrations began early in the morning and, through a variety of causes, ended in riot.

One of the key areas of celebration was the Sandhill. This is a roughly triangular piece of land, near Bridge Street, almost on the bank of the river. Long a market 'square' it was a centre of the town's activities. Here, for the celebration of the coronation, a wine pant was set up.

A 'pant' is a fountain; the word is from the dialects of Scotland and north-east England. There were several pants set up in Newcastle for the celebrations. Two beer pants were erected--one at the Old Flesh Market, and one at the Milk Market and possibly a third at the Spital. But especially notable was the large wine fountain at the Sandhill.
The Gentlemen of the City corporation--the mayor, the sheriff, aldermen, etc.--made speeches, then attended at St. Nicholas Church for a celebratory service. After that they were to process to the wine pant, and salute the new sovereign with a toast and drink his majesty's health.

They couldn't get to it. The crowd was so immense, and immediately became so rowdy that the gentlemen retired in short order. "An indescribable scene of the most indecent uproar ensued..." according to one report.
Sandhill Wine Pant, Coronation of George IV by H. P. Parker
The wine ceased to flow, and the elegant pant was torn to pieces. In other parts of the city the ale-pants were likewise the scenes of mayhem. Ox roasts nearby them also deteriorated into riots.

Songs were written about the events of the day:

Note the error above in the year--1819 instead of 1821. These two songs were collected in an edition called "Allan's illustrated edition of Tyneside Songs and readings". It was published in 1891 and the events of seventy years before were already remote.

The mention of Caroline, George's unloved queen is interesting--Newcastle had come out in support of the king's lawful wife the year before his coronation.

As we celebrate the birth of another George, already king-in-waiting, it is interesting, as always, to reflect on the events of the Regency and reign of George IV.

'Til next time,


1. A Descriptive and Historical Account of the Town and County of Newcastle ... 1827
2. Local Records; or, Historical Register of Remarkable Events...Town and County of Newcastle upon Tyne 1824
3. Allan's Illustrated Edition of Tyneside Songs and Readings 1891
All three of these books are available as free downloads from Google Books


Anne Gallagher said...

Interesting that the Monarchy would pay for the pants. I wonder what would happen today if they did the same thing for the birth of baby George. Probably more riots.

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

I have a feeling the city corporation paid for the pants, and decorated them with monarchical symbols. Human nature being unchanged in the last two hundred years, I'm sure you are right. Fountains of wine and ale = riots!