Grand National Archery Meeting at Leamington – 1851
The following article appeared in The Illustrated London News dated 5 July 1851
Grand National Archery Meeting at Leamington – Shooting for the Ladies’ Prize
Within the last seven years the attempts to revive the public taste for archery have been very successful. In 1844, 1845, and 1846, assemblages of archers from various counties took place at York; in 1847, 1848, and 1849, the scene was changed to Derby; and in 1850 to Edinburgh, where it was determined that the next great gathering should take place at Leamington, in compliance with a requisition presented from the county of Warwick to the committee of the National Society.
During the two years since which steps were first taken to secure to Leamington this distinction, the local committee have displayed great energy in the prosecution of their object, as is strikingly shown by their having obtained a list of patrons, containing the names of upwards of one hundred of the nobility and gentry of the county; amongst the most distinguished of whom we find those of his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the Earl of Aylesford, the Earl and Countess of Bradford, the Earl of Denbigh, the Earl of Buchan, Earl Somers, Countess of Farnham, Lord and Lady Leigh, Viscount and Viscountess Lifford, Viscount Newport, Lord and Lady Somerville, Lord and Lady Guernsey, Lady Emily Harding, Lady Charlotte Palmer, Lady Elizabeth Boultbee, the Hon. Charles and Mrs. Bertie Percy, the Hon. Charles Lennox Butler, Sir William and Lady Hartopp, Lady Mordaunt, Lady Cave Brown Cave, Lady Duberly, Sir Gray Skipwith, Bart., Sir Robert Throckmorton, Bart., Sir Theophilus Biddulph, Bart., Sir Robert Peel, Bart., M.P.,and Sir Charles Douglas, M.P.
Few places offer so many objects of attraction as Leamington; the facilities by railway from every part of the kingdom – the numerous and various conveniences in hotels, boarding-houses, and private apartments – the beauty of its scenery, with its delightful walks – the interest of its neighbourhood, and easy access to Warwick Castle, Kenilworth Castle, Guy’s Cliff, Stratford-on-Avon, Coombe Abbey, Stoneleigh Abbey, Charlecote, Hampton Lucy, and a host of other places of like interest, all contributing to the amusement of its visitors. To archers there was the additional recommendation that the local committee had succeeded in obtaining a county subscription of nearly £400 – being at least three-fourths more than was ever contributed in any previous year from such a source – and thus enabled the committee to announce a list of prizes of about £500 in value, to be distributed in plate or jewellery, and to be selected by the winners. There was also the champion’s gold medal, as heretofore; besides four local prizes offered exclusively for residents in the county of Warwick.
The meeting was fixed for Wednesday and Thursday week; and, after a meeting held at the Regent Hotel, on Tuesday evening, where the lots for the target tickets were drawn, it became known that eighteen targets would be pitched for 93 gentlemen, and six for 33 ladies, making in the whole 126 competitors – a number greater than any preceding year had witnessed, except 1846, when the principal prize at York was valued at 100 guineas. There was this year also a considerable increase in the amount of the rewards of honour, compared with those given at Edinburgh, where the total value of the prizes was £341; and a larger number of ladies were to contest for the honour of the field than had ever before been witnessed at such a festival.
The prize jewellery and plate, exhibited at Messrs. Bright’s establishment, in the Lower Parade, consisted of solid silver corner dishes, in sets of four; silver tea-kettles, with lamps and stands, and silver tea and coffee services. There were also silver waiters of every pattern, from eight to twenty-four inches in diameter; claret jugs, some entirely silver, and others of Bohemian glass and crystal. To these may be added tankards and cups, chased and engraved with rural, agricultural, and toxopholite subjects; copies of Benvenuto Cellini, &c.; silver caster frames, inkstands, cake-baskets and fruit-dishes, cream-ewers, toast-racks, egg-frames; clocks and candelabra, in ormoulu and bronze, &c.
For the Ladies’ Prizes were tastefully arranged a rich selection of gold bracelets, set with diamonds, pearls, carbuncle, and ruby garnets; gold and enameled watches; jewel-caskets in buhl, nacre, and oxidised silver work; tables and jardinieres in buhl, together with an endless variety of brooches.
“The Ornamental Wooden Spoon” was also shown at this establishment. The stem of the spoon is a clown’s figure, with fool’s cap and bells, terminating at the bowl, which is formed of the body of a goose; the head of the goose is pierced down by an arrow, and forms the centre of the stem. The clown is decorated with a medal engraved “Grand National Archery Meeting, 1851.”
The arrival of visitors commenced on Tuesday evening, when the principal hotels received archers and other visitants from Edinburgh, Glasgow, and many parts of Scotland; from Ireland and Wales; from London, Yorkshire, Durham, Lancashire, Kent, Devon, Norfolk, Berkshire, Sussex, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Staffordshire, Bucks, Northamptonshire, and other provinces, whose names include some of the most expert and influential bowmen of the day. Their numbers were still further augmented throughout the following day, when the special trains from different parts brought into Leamington several thousand persons
FIRST DAY’S SHOOTING.
The spot selected for the long-expected fete was Messrs. Parr and Wisden’s cricket-ground, comprising an area of eight acres. Around a spacious inner inclosure for the archers were ranged, north and south, eighteen targets for gentlemen and six for ladies; and to this inclosed space the subscribers to the meeting were admitted by ticket. The remainder of the ground was so arranged that the spectators obtained a very excellent view of the whole of the shooting. On the east side, to which admission was obtained at a very moderate price, were erected three tents, in front of which were hoisted The Royal standard and union-jack. There were, also, various other tents; and the German band enlivened the scene by their performance.
About twelve o’clock the bugle signalled the gentlemen to their targets, and the shooting of six dozen arrows at 100 yards commenced; one of the Honorary Secretaries occupying a place at each of the extreme targets, as leader. Henry Peckitt, Esq., of the Thirsk Bowmen, officiated as judge.
The weather was most propitious. At first, the wind was considered unfavourable to the well-directed arrow; but, as the day progressed, some close shooting ensued, and many feats of skill and dexterity were performed, especially at target 18, between the champion, Mr. Ford, with Mr. W. Peters, and Mr. C. Garnett (Royal Toxopholites), Mr. Muir (Salisbury Archers), and. Mr. A P. Moore (West Norfolk Bowmen), all distinguished archers.
About two o’clock the shooting of the first six dozen arrows at one hundred yards having been completed, luncheon was served. At the conclusion of the collation, the archers re-assembled to the targets, the ladies commencing at sixty and the gentlemen at eighty yards.
The shooting by the ladies, of four dozen arrows at 60 yards, was succeeded by two dozen at 50 yards, and each was pronounced by the best judges to be of a superior description.
The sport terminated shortly before six o’clock. The shooting of the gentlemen, taken as a whole, was of a very excellent character. Several very central hits were made at 100, 80, and 60 yards.
In the evening there was a grand display of fireworks by Darby, in the Jephson Gardens.
The weather on Monday was again favourable. As soon as the gentlemen had concluded the discharge of their six dozen arrows at 100 yards, and luncheon had been served, the usual meeting of Archers was held in the Visitors’ Tent, to make arrangements for the ensuing year; and the motion, “That their meeting be held in Leamington next year,” was carried by acclamation.
After some resolutions had been passed complimentary to the gentlemen who had conducted the business of the meeting, the shooting was resumed by the gentlemen at eighty and sixty yards, and by the ladies at fifty and sixty yards. The graceful style in which the ladies discharged their arrows, and the excellent manner in which they made their “hits,” rendered their shooting throughout the day much superior to that of the gentlemen.
In the afternoon, the band of the 4th, King’s Own Regiment, played several pieces. The shooting did not terminate till near six o’clock.
In the evening there was a Grand Dress Ball at the Royal Assembly-Rooms, which was attended by about 300 persons, among whom were many of the most distinguished county families, and some of the leading competitors in the archery amusements of the National meeting.
The prizes were declared in the ball-room, about two o’clock, by Mr. Luard hon. secretary.
The principal prizes for ladies were gained as follow:-
£25, Miss Villers, Worcestershire Archers;
£20, Miss Thursfield, Stour Vale Archers;
£12, Miss Harding, Warwickshire;
£10, Miss Peel, Worcestershire Archers;
£8, Mrs W Miller, Oxfordshire;
£8, Miss F Palmer, Warwickshire.
£42, Mr H A Ford, Royal Toxopholite Society;
£40, Mr Bramhall, West Norfolk Bowmen;
£31 10s, Mr Heath, Fraternity of St George;
£30, Mr P Muir, Salisbury (Edinburgh) Archers;
£21, Mr Henry Garnett, Lichfield Archers;
£20, Mr W Peters, Royal Toxopholite Society;
£17 7s, Mr H Steward. York Archers;
£17, Mr Holland, Pilkington Archers;
£16 16s, Mr Heath, jun.;
£16, Mr Hiltow, Cheetham-hill Archers;
£15 15s, Mr Hutchons, Camden Archers;
£15, Mr Wlllis, Queen’s Park (Brighton) Archers;
£12, Major Nixon;
£12, Major Clowes, Worcestershire Archers;
£10, Mr A P Moore, West Norfolk Bowmen;
£10, Mr Bedford, Woodmen of Arden;
£10, Mr Davison, Worcestershire Archers;
£10, Mr R Clark, Salisbury Archers;
£10, Mr W W Hargrove, York Archers;
£10, Mr Graham More, Salisbury Archers.
An ornamental wooden spoon for the greatest number of whites, to Mr G Ollier, Cheetham-hill Archers.
£12, Mr Garnett. Woodmen of Arden;
£8, Mr. C Wilkinson, Neville’s-cross Archers.
The Champion’s Gold Medal is still retained by Mr H A Ford.