Our Next Concert

Saturday 2 July 2022

Venue : St Gabriel's Church, Billingshurst

Please note the change of venue from the poster.

ur summer concert this year will be Billingshurst Choral Society’s celebration of Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. All the music is British and some of the pieces were sung at the coronation ceremony on 2nd June 1953.

We are singing:

Chilcott  - Gloria
Elgar  - Great is the Lord
Handel  - Zadok the Priest 
Howells  - Behold, O God our Defender
Parry - Songs of Farewell 1 and 2
Parry - I was Glad 
Rutter - Te Deum
Land of Hope and Glory 
National Anthem (Elgar)
Organ solo

The music will last for about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

The concert will be begin at 2.30pm and will be followed by a reception with refreshments.

BCS is pleased to be supporting CHESTNUT TREE HOUSE as its charity for 2022/23.

Representatives of CTH will be serving prosseco and soft drinks at the end of the concert, whilst BCS serve finger food. They will be delighted to accept your donations towards the drinks with cash or by card. 

Over £4 million a year is needed for CTH to be able to provide such hospice care, in this case for children and young people, and very little of this comes from central government - it comes from the generous donations it receives through fundraising, bequests, shops and so on. For more information about the charity and the essential care it provides see
Chestnut Tree House. Thank you.

10 Fascinating Facts About Our Queen


Fact #1: She went up a tree as a Princess and came down as Queen!

Princess Elizabeth and His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, set off early in 1952 on a tour of Australia and New Zealand via Kenya.  On the 6th February, the couple had just returned to their Kenyan base, Sagana Lodge, after a night at The Treetops Hotel.  Philip was the first to receive news that his father-in-law, King George VI, had died and he informed Elizabeth.  This meant that Princess Elizabeth immediately ascended to the throne.

The couple returned to the UK straight away and flew into London Airport as it was known then (Heathrow) and were met by Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister and members of the Royal Household.  The Queen chose to retain Elizabeth as her regal name and thus became Elizabeth II.  The Princess was christened Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor on the 21st of April, 1926.

Princess Elizabeth did not enter the world in a palace, but was born in a townhouse belonging to her maternal grandparents at 17, Bruton Street, Mayfair.

Elizabeth was the first female sovereign to take her oath abroad since 1755.


Fact #2: The then Princess Elizabeth had to use clothing ration coupons to procure the material for her wedding dress in the autumn of 1947.

The then Princess Elizabeth, who was 21 at the time, had to use clothing ration coupons to procure the material for her wedding dress due to strict rationing measures in place following World War II.  It had been purported that the government allowed the Princess 200 extra ration coupons towards her wedding gown which was designed and made two years after the war ended.  Heart-warmingly she was also given hundreds of clothing coupons by brides-to-be from all parts of the country to help her to acquire the gown and material for the bridesmaids dresses.  She had to return these coupons as it was illegal for them to have been given away in the first instance.


The wedding gown was created by Norman Hartnell.  His design for the dress was only approved three months before the wedding.  It was a Chinese silk fitted gown with a sweetheart neckline, tailored bodice and long, fitted sleeves.  The bodice and full skirt were encrusted with pearl and diamante jasmine blossoms, ears of wheat and star flowers.  Hartnell included a secret lucky clover on the inside of the skirt, so that the princess’s left hand “could rest upon it during the ceremony.”

The wedding gown also had a 13-foot-long train inspired by Botticelli’s 1482 painting “Primavera”, bedazzled with crystals and 10,000 seed pearls imported from America.  The wedding gown was paired with a diamond tiara and white satin sandals complete with silver buckles studded with small pearls.  The dress was stitched by 350 women over the course of nearly two months.

The Princess was flanked by eight bridesmaids, while Philip’s best man was The Marquess of Milford Haven.  The venue for the big day was Westminster Abbey and it took place on the 20th of November, 1947.  It was the first great celebration of the post-war era and the ceremony was officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher and the Archbishop of York, Cyril Garbett.


Fact #3:   The Coronation 

Jacqueline Bouvier (later to be known as the First Lady of the United States of America, Jackie Kennedy) attended the Coronation as one of the foreign journalists covering this momentous occasion. Miss Bouvier was working for the Washington Times-Herald at the time.


                              A Fascinating Acrostic Featuring The Coronation

Coronation Chicken was a recipe invented for the foreign guests who were to be entertained after the ceremony.  The food had to be prepared in advance and florist, Constance Spry, proposed a dish of cold chicken in a curry cream sauce with a well-seasoned dressed salad of rice, peas and mixed herbs.  The recipe has become a favourite dish ever since.
Over 8,000 guests were present at The Queen’s Coronation, representing 129 nations and territories.
Ring of England is the name of the Coronation Ring, which was placed on The Queen’s fourth finger of her right hand in accordance with tradition.  Made for the Coronation of King William IV in 1831, the ring has been worn at every coronation since then, except that of Queen Victoria.  Due to Victoria’s tiny fingers, the ring could not be reduced far enough in size and an alternative was created.
Orb was made in 1661 for the coronation of Charles II and it is an essential piece of regalia.  It symbolises Christian sovereignty over the earth.  It is a globe of gold surrounded by a cross girded by a band of diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and pearls.  It has a large amethyst at the summit.  During the ceremony the Archbishop of Canterbury places the Orb in the right hand of the Monarch.
Norman Hartnell designed The Queen’s Coronation dress which was made from white satin embroidered with the emblems of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in gold and silver thread.  Hartnell had also designed The Queen’s wedding dress five years earlier.
Anointing Oil contains extracts of orange, roses, cinnamon, musk and ambergris (a solid waxy substance originating in the intestine of a sperm whale!).  Usually, a batch is made to last for a number of Coronations, but in May 1941, a bomb hit the Deanery where the oil was stored and destroyed the phial, so a new batch had to be made.  The anointing ritual is always hidden from view and a canopy was held over The Queen by four Knights of the Garter whilst the Archbishop anointed Her Majesty on her hands, breast and head with the fragrant holy oil.
Television: the BBC coverage of the ceremony was a breakthrough for the history of broadcasting.  It was the first such occasion to be televised and for most people, it was the first time they had watched an event such as this happening live on television.
Investiture: The Queen first put on the newly-made Colobium Sindonis, a loose linen-lawn garment, and then a robe of cloth of gold called the Dalmatic or Supertunica.  The Lord Great Chamberlain presented the Golden Spurs, the symbol of chivalry, after which the Archbishop of Canterbury presented a Jewelled Sword, and then the Armills, the golden bracelets of sincerity and wisdom.  Finally, The Queen puts on a stole and cloth of gold Robe Royal and receives the Orb, The Ring of England, the Glove and the Sceptre.
Out of the 36 million population in Britain at the time, 27 million people watched the Coronation on television and an estimated 11 million listened to the ceremony on their wireless set.
Numerous official photographs were taken in Buckingham Palace after the Coronation, but the most memorable are those taken by Cecil Beaton.  For his defining image he posed the Queen in front of a backdrop depicting Henry VII’s chapel in Westminster Abbey.  The official artist for the Coronation was Feliks Topolski, a Polish painter who produced a permanent record of the occasion in the Lower Corridor at Buckingham Place.  The painting was made in 14 sections, each well over a metre high.


Fact #4:  It is a well-known fact that The Queen loves dogs and horses, but did you know that she owns some rare and exotic animals, too?  


The Queen is known for her Corgi obsession, which began when she was given a Pembroke Welsh Corgi as a present from her father when she was 6 years old.  The Queen currently has two Corgis, one Dorgi (a cross between a Corgi and a Dachshund) and a young Cocker Spaniel.  Her Majesty is credited with creating the Dorgi breed when one of her Corgis mated with Princess Margaret’s Dachshund called Pipkin.

The Queen is also passionate about horses and her head groom, Terry Pendry, told ‘Horse and Hound’ magazine that his employer is a “fountain of knowledge” when it comes to these magnificent animals and owns all kinds of top-class breeds.

Whilst dogs and horses have always been associated with Her Majesty, The Queen also owns rare and exotic animal breeds.  The year 1961 was a bumper one for exotic gifts for The Queen as she received two pygmy hippos from the president of Liberia and two young Nile crocodiles from the people of Berending, North Bank, The Gambia.  In 1968, while on a trip to Brazil, she was gifted two sloths and two jaguars, which she named Marques and Aizita.  An African forest elephant named Jumbo was gifted to The Queen by the then-president of Cameroon in 1972 and in the same year the people of The Seychelles gifted Her Majesty two Aldabra tortoises, which can live up to 250 years!  The president of Brazil, Artur da Costa, gifted two giant anteaters and an armadillo in 1976 and also an array of toucans, and during The Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, Australia gifted six red kangaroos.  These exotic animals have been cared for at the Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) London and Whipsnade Zoos.

Most of Her Majesty’s recent ‘animal’ gifts have been horses; in 2016, The Royal Canadian Mounted Police presented The Queen with a fine black gelding to commemorate her 90th birthday.  The beast was named ‘Sir John’ after Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John MacDonald.

Another fascinating fact connecting the Monarchy to animals is that since the 12th century, The Queen has the right to claim ownership of all unmarked swans in Britain swimming in open waters.  Historically, this legislation was created because swans were eaten as a prized food at banquets and feasts and it was a good way to protect them.  Today, swans are no longer eaten and are a protected species.

Due to a piece of legislation from 1324, the monarch also owns whales, sturgeons, porpoises and dolphins within three miles of the British coastline or if these animals happen to be washed ashore, The Queen could claim them!

Fact #5:  The Queen is the only person in all of Britain who is legally allowed to drive without a driver's licence.


Her Majesty learned to drive at the age of 19 in 1945.  After a year of begging permission from her father, King George VI, to join the British Armed Forces during World War II, Elizabeth was allowed to enlist, making her the first female from the British royal family to serve in the military. 

It was during this time that the then Princess Elizabeth learned how to change a wheel, deconstruct and rebuild engines, as well as drive ambulances and other vehicles.  She undertook her training at Aldershot, qualifying on 14th of April 1945.  The princess was granted the rank of Honorary Junior Commander and the media title of “Princess Auto Mechanic”. 

The Queen is also the only person in Britain who is allowed to drive without a number plate on her state vehicles.

Another fascinating fact connected to driving is that The Queen does not have to obey legal speed limits, whether she’s in the driver’s seat or just along for the ride.  The Queen’s royal authority allows her to go as fast or as slow as she pleases.  The law currently states that “speed limits do not apply to any motor vehicle being used for police, fire and rescue authority, ambulance or by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) purposes, if observing the speed limit would be likely to hinder the use of the vehicle for the purposes for which it is being used on the occasion”.  If Her Majesty was to be caught breaking the law, it is legally impossible to sue or prosecute her. 


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