They polished their boots. Trimley reacts to the death of Queen Elizabeth II

06890D4E-BBC4-45C7-A093-DD6C6B724561_1_201_a1953 obverse side of a Coronation Crown. Face value 5/-

FB9420A9-1B1B-4ECE-9437-F25A4AA44557_1_201_aThe edge of the Coronation Crown. “Faith and truth I will bear unto you”

Devotions upon Emergent Occasions

John Donne

No man is an island entire of itself; every man

is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe

is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as

well as any manner of thy friends or of thine

own were; any man’s death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom

the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.




Book of Condolence in Trimley St. Martin’s Church

Death is our Familiar accompanying us all from the instant of our conception to our final breath.  We cannot escape the inevitable conclusion of our lives.  Rich or poor, death comes to us all. Therefore, we should not be surprised by the death of someone who is ninety six. But the death of Queen Elizabeth II resonates with us all. You may be a strong monarchist, strong republican or someone occupying the middle of royalist ground  but you are likely to be in the minority if you forget how you felt on learning of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.  Since 6.30 p.m., 8th September  2022  the death of the Queen has impacted on the life of the nation with ten days of national mourning due to finish at the end of 19th September, following the Queen’s burial.

I wanted to learn how the ordinary people of Trimley have responded to the death of the Queen and to try and capture a few thoughts from some of the Villagers. It may be what follows appears disjointed but as such it mirrors the tenor of the times.

Early on Friday 9th September, I started by visiting St. Martin’s church where a book of condolence had been opened. There were just a handful of people on the streets and a lone member of the Church acting as a steward to visitors.


Notice outside Trimley St. Martin Church. 09/09/2022

Book of Condolence

Writing in the book of Condolence in Trimley St. Martin’s Church. Photo courtesy:  Robin Biddle. 09/09/2022

Opposite the church, The Mariners exhibited Union Jacks at half mast, as did the Welcome Hall. The door of St. Mary’s, where the Two Sisters Arts Centre lives, had a solitary notice on the door. There would be no live performances on Friday evening.


The Flags at The Mariners at half mast.  09/09/2022


…and at The Welcome Hall. 09/09/2022



The Welcome Hall pays tribute to the Queen. 09/09/2022

2 Sisters Arts Centre closes the day after the announcement. 09/09/2022

Suzanne Hawkes of 2 Sisters posted a poem she had written on Facebook and has given permission for it to be reproduced here.

On The Death of Elizabeth II

Did he come and touch her shoulder?
“Time to go
My dear”,
As she drunk her evening coco
Stroked the corgi,
Settled in her chair.
Did she start or smile expecting
Nod her greeting,
Take his hand?
Or look back a tad reluctant,
“Are there duties unfulfilled?”
“You’ve run the, race finished the course,
Done your duty,
Time to go my dear”
“Oh Philip!”

Did she take one last look
One last gaze at photos in their frames
One last sigh, touched her grandchild’s forehead with a kiss?
Did she whisper, “Are you sure?”
“Yes”,  he said
“You can do no more.
70 years is long enough
You’re tired now – come walk with me.
There’s horses here – and gardens and a park
Filled with trees ad benches,
Time to rest,
Charles has earned the burden and the prize,
Time to lay it down, pass it on,
No more to do.
You did it all ,fulfilled each jot and tithe,
It is complete.”

And did she rise one last time,
Look out across the vista of her life
“I think I did alright?”
And did he smile
“Of course – now come on Lilibet old girl,
Suppers waiting ..”

Suzanne Hawkes.

Later in the day, I quickly visited Trimley St. Martin school who kindly gave me permission to photograph some of the Year 5 poems written as a response to the Queen’s demise. Earlier in the day, an assembly had been held about the Queen for the second time this year; the first was on the occasion of her Jubilee.



Poetry and pictures from some of the Year 5 pupils at Trimley St. Martin. 09/09/2022

At 4.30 I visited The Hand in Hand with Barbara Shout. It was open with just a few people were discussing events. The Landlady, Nicki Jennings explained the visitors to The Hand had been few on Thursday evening. Her children had been interested to learn of the event and like many people, Nicki was more upset than she expected. She plans to open on Monday 19th September with a large screen following the progress of the Queen’s funeral.


Sign outside The Hand in Hand.

Les Bridges confessed he had been tearful when he heard the news. Born in 1959, his entire life has been lived during the Queen’s reign.

“She’s part of our history.”


Les Bridges, of Trimley St. Martin. 09/09/2022

His brother Robert Bridges expressed some amazement when he confided he had spoken to two young lads who were unaware of who the new King would be and where baffled that he would be the third of that name.

Arlene Ell a Police Officer based in Felixstowe, told me how the she learnt the grave news. Her working patch covers Walton and Felixstowe and she is currently working nights. Asleep when the news broke she woke to find a text message from her sister filling her in on what had happened. Arlene arrived at the Police Station to find the flags were already flying at half-mast.  She and her fellow officers felt they should do something but were at a loss to know quite what it should be. They completed the simplest but most heart felt of tasks in respect for the Queen. They polished their boots.

Born in 1951 Dennis Martin stated you could not but admire Elizabeth II. At 96 her death wasn’t surprising but the dignity surrounding her death  was noteworthy.

On the next day, a visit to The Mariners elicited further comments. The Landlady, Melissa Allen, echoed the observations of Nicki Jennings: customers were thin on the ground on Thursday but were more in evidence by Saturday. The Mariners will  remain open on the  day of the funeral with three large screens following the funeral service. One of her customers Tacia Memory confessed she is empath and subject  to all  emotions. She had been devastated by the news.  As we spoke tears came to her eyes. National mourning reminds us all of our own bereavements, perhaps providing an  opportunity to revisit personal griefs and reconcile ourselves.

During the last week I noticed an acknowledgement to the Queen outside Trimley St. Mary’s School.


A second Parish Council acknowledgement of the Queen’s death. 16/09/2022

Goslings Farm Shop also acknowledged the Queen’s death.


Notice in Goslings Farm Shop.15/09/2022

A few days later I spoke at some length with  Lucia Aguilar-Gomez. We discussed the nature of a monarchy which lives its life under  a nationwide microscope, global in its distribution. Mobile technology grants us all instant access to events especially to what is perceived as a national loss. Lucia felt able to see both sides of the coin. This occasion feels very different to the occasion of Diana, the Princess of Wales, which might be viewed as a tragedy.   Perhaps we should view this event from the perspective of the family.  Lucia had been to the Proclamation in Ipswich on Sunday 11th September. She was struck by  the nature of a  diverse audience, some from Commonwealth countries and many dressed in their finest clothes. There was a wide range of ages but noticeably absent were teenagers.

Lucia Aguilar-Gomez

Lucia Aguilar-Gomez.

Barbara Shout sent me some photographs of the Proclamation made in Felixstowe outside the Town Hall  at 3.30 p.m.

Photo courtesy: Barbara Shote 11/09/2022

The funeral on Monday will be the second State Funeral in my lifetime, the first being that of Winston Churchill in January 1965, when school children were given the day off. Viewing the rehearsals for Monday on national television I was struck  by the military planning and precision. If you follow this link:

you may view snatches of the funeral of Queen Victoria. In contrast to contemporary rehearsals it almost appears haphazard.


Below you can read some of the responses of my correspondents as they landed in my inbox. My thanks go to all of them for their  time and contributions as they do to the people to whom I spoke during the last week.

Nigel Pickover

The Queen enriched the lives of millions across the world – and so many at home and abroad have their own, joyous, personal experiences of contact with her.

In my role as a newspaper editor, I met Her Majesty on three occasions, in Suffolk, Norfolk and London, and each occasion gave me spine-tingling moments to treasure forever.

On each meeting, there was great anticipation of the handshake to come – and reminders of how to say Ma’am (it’s pronounced MAM)  but no sense of trepidation or nerves.

I suppose that’s because the Queen has always been like a second mum to me, someone you imagined you could turn to for love, comfort and and advice.

She was wonderful when she visited the Press Association’s headquarters in London where  I hosted a group of editors in one corner of the building.

As the Internet Age was getting in to full swing I asked her: ”Have you surfed the web, Ma’am?”

Quick as a flash, her bright eyes shone, as she replied:” No, but I believe Prince Charles has!”

She arrived in Suffolk on her Golden Jubilee Tour in 2002 was fascinated to see the booming Ipswich Waterfront area.”

I met The Queen in a marquee on the day our Evening Star new colour printing press in nearby Lower Brook Street was commissioned – and, remotely, she started that day’s printing operation. Naturally, she was front page news!

In King’s Lynn, I met The Queen when she visited the hospital bearing her name, the one closest to her Norfolk home at Sandringham.

She revealed a passion for the local paper we produced to be read her breakfast table. How proud was I.

Always kind, always warm, always interested, she lifted my day on each occasion, as she did for all those millions who met her.

When my newspaper produced a diamond jubilee souvenir magazine, she wrote a beautifully-crafted note of thanks. I treasure it still.

That – and her recent hilarious video sketch with Paddington – underscores the “common touch” she had amongst all her other personal gifts.

Alongside countless millions, we mourn deeply.

But we also celebrate the life of a monarch who left you with the feeling that she was right alongside as an extra sister, mother, friend, or an extra shoulder for life’s troublesome moments.

I’m sure her guiding light will shine on forever.

Gerry Bremner, Trimley St. Martin

I am by no means a monarchist. However, I cannot help but admire and respect the service and dedication to this country and its people that Queen Elizabeth II displayed during her reign and her life.

She has been a constant backdrop to my life and that of my grandparents and parents and has also represented this nation with great dignity  across the world especially within the Commonwealth countries. I felt that whilst our politicians seem more than capable of repeatedly dragging this nations reputation into the gutter she stood resolute and unshaking in her integrity and morality and I feel garnered respect for herself, our country and its people as a result.

I personally would have preferred the Royal Household to have made the decision to bypass Charles and Camilla and passed the succession to William and Kate as I believe it would give the country a lift to have a young couple who appear more connected and in touch with the younger generation of this country and would have been better for global relations going forward. Charles and Camilla are too old school and A-typical elite class aristocrats who I do not believe will lift this country at a time when it desperately needs some feel good factor to return.

God bless you Elizabeth Regina for your service to your high office and your nation. Now it is your time to re-join Phillip and to feel the release of the responsibility you have carried for so long. You have done us all proud Mam.

Sue Biddle

The news yesterday was that the Queens health was causing concern was a little worrying, she had been a constant in my life  since I was a small girl, so it was with sadness that the next announcement was of her passing.  When the Queen’s father, King George VI died in 1952  I was only 5, but I knew what he looked like, his head was on the stamps that my mother bought, and on the letters and Christmas cards that came to our house. My Mum told me that I would have to sing the God Save the King anthem as God Save the Queen instead, which was quite worrying to my five year old mind.

Soon after the King’s death my Dad bought a television to watch the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth and a huge H shaped aerial  was put up in our back garden, the pole it was attached to was so tall it made a swing for me in later years. Our late Queen’s  Coronation turned out to be something of a disappointment – the tv reception wasn’t good, with what was called a ‘snowstorm’. Obviously,  it was in black and white, or to be more accurate, various shades of grey, no colour tv in those days! Many of our neighbours came around to watch the ceremony, but a lot of the time I played in the back garden as I felt it was a little boring. How I wish these days that I had seen it on television snowstorm and all. So, it is rather sad to find an era has ended, and I shall have to sing God Save the King again.

Robin Biddle

Coronation mug,Trimley St Mary

Coronation Mug 1953. Photo Courtesy: Robin Biddle

Sadly, the news of the Queen’s passing, did not come as a surprise. All day Wednesday the National Anthem was going around my head,  that gave me the feeling that all was not with her Majesty, which was soon confirmed by reports that she was under medical supervision. I’m not quite sure at what time I heard the news, but it gave me a feeling of not knowing how or what to feel, apart. from a sadness at what we have lost.

In the days of Wolf cubs and Boy Scouts, we promised to ‘do our duty to God, and the King/ Queen, also in Sea Cadets, there was a similar allegiance  to the Queen.  In those days, it was the position rather than the person. I probably gave more thought to the royals when the younger members, started to kick over the traces, it made them seem more like any ordinary family , that I could relate to.

On Coronation Day, the children of both villages, with some parents, assembled in Cavendish Road, some in fancy dress. I was a  grey rabbit. We processed across to the Memorial Hall, I can’t remember  any details except the St Mary’s children had souvenir  mugs, and I believe the St Martins children had pens.

I saw the Queen twice. Once at Harwich in the late 1950s. I think they were going to join the Royal Yacht. As Sea Cadets, we were part of the groups that ‘lined the route’ sort of guard of honour as the Queen and Duke passed through the town.

The second time was about 1980, when she was being driven on the A14 to the dock. About 10 of us stood at the fence at the end of Old Kirton Road to wave as she passed.

In recent days, it has been commented that one really knew the Queen. She was said to have been a humorous, fun person, probably highlighted by the James Bond, and Paddington Bear sketches. The happiest I ever saw her, was on a news item when one of her horses won,  and she jumped up and down with excitement.

The Queen was there for most of my life. I suppose my feelings graduated, from that of acceptance, to a kind of endearment as she progressed through the landmarks of her reign.

God save the Queen.                                              Long Live The King

RB 10.9.2022


Yvonne Smart

Being born in 1949 I can’t really remember the early days of this special lady. I do know we bought our first television to watch the Coronation!
I have always felt HM Queen Elizabeth II to be a really genuine person. May she now rest in peace and let us all celebrate her life and remember her lovely smile.

Morag Liffen, Trimley St. Martin

I think it came as a shock to all of us. My first reaction was one of immense sadness. This was the end of an era and we shall never see her like again. I hope her family carry on in the same way, but they have a hard act to follow. RIP our dear Queen.

Mavis Stannard,  Trimley St. Mary

My father was born in the Boat Houses in Trimley St Martin in 1911, the family later moved to 2 Hand Cottages and it is from there that my father was called up for army service in the Second World War.

I was born in London in 1946 and so was five years old when the Queen came to the throne.  In 1953 my family which consisted of Mum, Dad, Nana and myself went from Fulham where we lived to the Great West Road to watch the Coronation on the TV at my Aunt and Uncle’s house.  When you listen to people this is something that happened to many families, not everyone could afford a television and in my particular case my Dad wouldn’t allow a TV in the house until I finished school at the age of 17.    I know that my Aunt and Uncle’s son was given a Coronation set and that is something that is still in his possession. Living in Fulham, West London it was a poor area and at that time still carried the scars of the Second World War (although no one spoke about it – there bomb sites) but in my road they did manage to hold a party for the children and photographs were taken. I still have my Coronation mug but unfortunately over the years this has suffered a little bit of damage but I will not part with it because it is part of my London history.

Barbara Shout

Thank you, Ma’am.


1953 reverse side of a Coronation Crown


If you have any comments or would like to be part of the Trimley St. Martin project, please contact me at:

LR  18/09/2022





One thought on “They polished their boots. Trimley reacts to the death of Queen Elizabeth II

  1. Thank you Liz for this insight ,rather the same in Holbrook .Most people agree we will not see the like of Elizabeth 11 again.


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