Bicester’s Colourful Carnival

Events Aug 28, 2022

Originally published in the Bicester Advertiser, 29th July 1932.

Bicester held a carnival yesterday with all success. The Weather God at first set his face against it and ordered rain for the day, so it drizzled miserably from an early hour with persistence till 5:30pm.

What was to be done? To be or not to be? Boldly the committee decided against postponement and, as if by magic, fancily dressed folk appeared from nowhere; decorated cars nosed round each corner of the town and not long elapsed before a procession was in course of formation under the guiding charge of Chief Marshal E.V. Charles (in Oriental costume) and a very fine, colourful and ingenious parade wound its way serpentinely through the Bicester streets.

Quite a large crowd watched the spectacle and hugely enjoyed it. The police were most helpful all the time.


What would a carnival be without a Queen, the regal point of interest, and the reigning spirit of the time? A monarch had therefore been chosen for the occasion and Miss Nellie Hawtin was a smiling attractive sovereign in her crown of gold, studded with jewels; a white dress with gold braid, blue cloak and white fur collar.

She carried a bouquet, and her pretty maids of honour looked delightful in dresses of various hues, lent by the County School, with chaplets of flowers on their heads; each maid carrying a posy. These sprightly attendants were Jean and Mary Goble, Ruby Grimsley, Betty Lane, Gladys Jackson, Edith Evans, Myrtle Metcalfe and Esme Harris.

This ceremony took place at the Fox Corner and Councillor G. Goble, with a few appropriate words, introduced Mrs Ruck-Keene, who duly did the crowning, and was presented with pink carnations by Miss Kathleen Goble.

The queen’s car was charming in the extreme with its delicate pink hangings, posies and throne.


In singles, pairs and groups those taking part in the parade came to the Tun Room where the marshals and judges were awaiting them. A bright spectacle of motley was here seen, and there gathered so heterogenous a myriad of mummers that if petrified or waxed they would have been not unfitted to a Madame Tussaud’s.

Here a savage Zulu, more or less direct from his native wilds and in war paint, which was not printer’s ink, was in conversation with a dainty Zuluess. Mexicans, Indians and soldiers mounted, clowns on foot and V.A.D. nurses took the collecting boxes round.

One by one motor tableaux sailed slowly and with grace upon the scene, sporting their streamers and flags and many tokens of ingenious and original thought. A land yacht, which in its everyday life is a motor car, but had been magically transformed for marine travel, anchored cheek by jowl, with the mainbrace spliced, near a portable model kitchen, complete with all fittings, where a chef was busy preparing dishes for one of the strangest menus that possibly the wit of man (or woman) has yet devised.

“Say it with music” urged a placard fronting the turnout of the Legion Band, and round the slogan danced painted clefs, bars, minims and quavers. Another tableau, with Mr L. Evans in charge of the Boy Scouts, advertised the B.U.F.S. annual parade on Sunday next and the sports on the following day.

The tableau of the Bicester V.A.D. was particularly happy in its scheme, representing Florence Nightingale, of Crimean War nursing fame, and the nursing service in the Great War.

The Legion Band played in its best style.

The judges where Admiral and Mrs Ruck-Keene, Major and Mrs Coker, Mrs Rashleigh, Dr and Mrs Montgomery, Dr Holmes, Mr and Mrs G.E. Grainger, Mrs and Miss Tubb, and the following from Oxford, Mr R.A. McCulloch, Mr E.G. Buckman and Mr E.R. Morgan.

The Bicester and Brackley Fire Brigades turned out in efficient style, and the old local manual said it was 218 years old.