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Victorian Banner to proclaim the Tournament Event in 1839

The Eglinton Tournament 1839 (Prelude to the Event)

Fondness for past times grew with the ever increasing speed of change in society. The stability and simplicity of the Middle Ages had a strong appeal, especially to aristocrats with real life Knights amongst their ancestors.

The past grew more and more attractive, particularly amongst those most threatened by the changes; the gentlemen of the aristocracy. Gothic sentiment pervaded art and literature. Prominent among the strongest influences were the works of Sir Walter Scott.

The pressures of changes in British Society were not diminished by the defeat of Napoleon in 1815. Unrest continued and the Governments reaction to demonstrations as far apart as 'Peterloo' (1819) and Bonnymuir (1820) was violent. Ultimately, even military force could not stem the tide of reform. The Reform Act of 1832 gave the middle classes the vote.

The beginning of a new era had finally been recognised and in the 1830's were marked by the first impact of mass unemployment. The 1833 Budget showed the national exchequer in deficit and the government was determined that the extravagances of the George IV coronation, where the banquet alone had cost 25,000, would not be repeated.

Despite many protests, notably from Lord Londonderry, Queen Victoria was crowned with such simple pageantry, that the ceremony became known, in some circles, as "The Penny Coronation".