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King Edward VII Visits Flitton Church

Signature of Edward VII taken from the visitors book [P12/28/10]
Signature of Edward VII taken from the visitors book [P12/28/10]

In July 1909 King Edward VII paid a weekend visit to Wrest Park, at the invitation of its tenant, the American ambassador Whitelaw Reid. On Sunday afternoon he took a drive out to Flitton church. The Bedfordshire Times of 30th July 1909 reported the visit as follows.

"By three o'clock, however, the sun had again asserted itself, and a rumour gained currency that His Majesty would go for a motor ride. At 3.55 p.m. three cars swept into the village of Flitton, Captain Walsh and Mr. Ogden Read being in the first. The ancient mother church of Silsoe [i.e. Flitton] was inspected by the King, the Ambassador being the guide. The Vicar (the Rev. J. Draper) was away on holiday, and his deputy was conducting a service at the Ampthill Union house [the workhouse]. The churchwardens (Messrs. A. Elmore and J. Chapman) were in attendance with the sexton and his wife. His Majesty was much interested in the fabric and closely scanned the perfect brasses to be found on the floor and walls. He noticed the organ erected in memory of Queen Victoria's Jubilee, and went into the fine mausoleum attached to the chancel, which contains so many handsome monuments and tablets to bygone worthies of the De Grey family. He saw the dilapidated state of the roof, for the repair of which the Vicar has been appealing for funds. Before leaving he signed the visitors' roll in the vestry, and many in the future on the look-out for illustrious names will find "Edward R. and I." among the signatures. About a hundred villagers and a few strangers were enabled to have an undisturbed look at their popular monarch, who was quite at ease among his faithful subjects".