John Pickles, Lost Coronation Chorister Found!
Coronation Choristers Celebrate with The Chapel Royal
The Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace 2/6/2013: John Pickles one of the four Coronation choristers from The Chapel Royal, Hampton Court was discovered living near Balmoral in Aberdeenshire last week. He drove down to The Chapel Royal at Hampton Court to join former choristers Alan Sanders and Nigel Palk to commemorate the Coronation on Sunday 2 June. The former choristers had not seen each other for 60 years! Also present was Fellow Hampton Court chorister, Anthony Alderton, who was first reserve in case anyone became ill.
There were other former choristers who joined in the celebrations: Mr Louis Halsey, a member of the Chapel Royal congregation who sang alto at the Coronation as a choral scholar from Trinity College Cambridge, Kingston resident, Christopher Herrick, who was a coronation chorister from St Paul’s Cathedral and Reverend David Swarbrigg, a former chorister at St Patrick’s Cathedral who was selected to sing at the Coronation but was kept home due to an asthma attack.
There was a special Evensong service at 3:30 PM at The Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace on Sunday 2 June to mark the occasion.
A private celebration tea for the choir, hosted by The Choral Foundation with support from Historic Royal Palaces Memories Team took place at the palace after Evensong. Memorabilia from the Coronation Choir was on display and the Coronation Choristers had a chance to talk to current choristers about what life was like as a chorister sixty years ago.
One of the former choristers told of his “initiation” into the choir : He was ushered to the Kings Staircase by the other choristers and told to walk to the top on his own where unbeknown to him, another chorister was hiding in the shadows with a torch and sprang out, making ghostly noises; he ran all the way home! Another former chorister said that “the choirboys used to hide behind a door in the evenings and make moaning and mournful noises to scare unsuspecting tourists. Thankfully there are no more such initiations nor pranks on visitors. And today, Hampton Court has a Choral Foundation, the charity that is ensuring that local boys continue to be trained as choristers at Hampton Court Palace. The value of this training was reinforced by one of the former choristers who “attributed his success in public life to having sung solos in the choir!”
Former and current choristers were very proud to be part of a day of national celebration and choristers are honoured to still serve Her Majesty today.
The Choral Foundation is a registered charity which is raising £1.5m to ensure that the 500 year old musical heritage of The Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace will continue for future generations to enjoy.
Contact: Cathy Breeze