When one thinks of this royal visit one immediately thinks of the elaborate decorations and archways welcoming the Royal Couple conjured up by the drawings of William Claridge which were reproduced many times as a lithograph. William produced two drawings showing the welcome of the royal pair to the town. These drawings showed two triumphal arches, the larger of the two had the message “God save Queen Victoria”, and the other one, “Welcome to the Prince Consort”.
It was clear that preparations had been made very carefully everywhere along the route to arrange escorts to accompany the couple and to produce most elaborate decorations. The Queen writes in her journal:
After Chesham C. Cavendish left us and we were escorted by a troop of Buckinghamshire Yeomanry. The road all along was very pretty. We next changed horses at Berkhamsted where the town was beautifully decorated, trees being planted on either side of the street, with festoons of flowers etc. Here the Hertfordshire (the Heavy Troop) commanded by Lord Grimston [of Westbrook Hay] escorted us. The road again was very pretty, diversified through green lanes with hills and valleys. We passed close by Ashridge, which seems a large and fine place. The Light Hertfordshire Yeomanry met us here and escorted us to Dunstable where I remember going to in 1832.
The opportunity of reading Queen Victoria’s journal gives us an insight into our young Queen, some understanding of the feeling of the people of her kingdom in the early days of her long reign, but also puts her visit to Berkhamsted on 26th July 1841, so well depicted by William Claridge, into perspective.
Jennifer Sherwood, Chronicle v.XVII (Mar 2020).