In true British style, the heavens opened just as the Queen’s Tea party kicked off on Saturday. Despite the heavy rain, over 1,500 guests turned out to celebrate Her Majesty’s 90th birthday on the Common.
The giant street party was organised by local volunteers to raise money for the upkeep of the Commons, which are privately owned and cost £100k a year to maintain.
“Despite the weather, people still turned out to have fun together on the Common and to show support for what we do. We are extremely thankful to the team of loyal volunteers who put in long hours to stage this event,” says John Hayhow, Chair of the Trustees.
John is one of the 15 Trustees who manage Chislehurst Commons on behalf of the community, as their predecessors have done for almost 130 years. The Trustees feel strongly that the 180 acres of green spaces are here to be enjoyed and should be protected for the next generation.
The Tea Party guests were set to enjoy a traditional High Tea to the sound of a quarter peal of bells from neighbouring St Nicholas church. The bell ringing is an ancient English tradition to mark a special occasion. The High Tea was literally a washout, but the sun came out eventually and the sense of fun prevailed as guests enjoyed live music and country dancing. They had been encouraged to enter into the spirit of the occasion by dressing in vintage 50s’ attire or patriotic red, white and blue.
Tickets were available to buy online and in local shops. They sold out almost immediately which shows how much the people of Chislehurst value the Commons and enjoy this type of community event. The Tea Party follows the success of a similar event celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee in 2012.
“People here know how to have a good time and the sense of community is priceless. A bit of rain did nothing to dampen spirits and, if anything, the weather made it even more of a day to remember,” says Donna Bompas, Chair of the organising committee.
The event was sponsored by The Chislehurst Society, jdm Estate Agents, Visit Chislehurst and Higgs the Butcher. It raised over £6,000 for Chislehurst Commons.