Eton College Forth of June “Procession of Boats” Straw Boater Hat
Acompanied by two silk ribbons for the crews 'Prince of Wales' & 'Britannia'
Approx hat size 7
The estate of David Cecil Wynter Verey (1913-1984)
& Rosemary Verey (née Sandilands) (1918-2001)
Barnsley House, Cirencester, Gloucestershire
An antique straw boater from the Eton College Forth of June 'Procession of Boats', acompanied by two silk ribbons with boat names written in gold letting on them: one in crimson silk with the words 'Prince of Wales'; the other in royal blue with the word 'Britannia'.
Each year Eton College celebrates the birthday of it's greatest patron, King George III (1738-1820). This event, known as The Forth of June (though rarely held on 4th June), is the school’s equivalent of a 'speech day' or 'parents’ open day' as held at other establishments. Various events take place including cricket matches, concerts, art exhibitions and recitals. One of the highlights is the "Procession of Boats" which takes the form of a ‘rowpast’ by crews from Eton's boat club along the school's stretch of the Thames. The procession starts with the most senior crews ('Upper Boats') and ends with those of the younger boys ('Lower Boats'). Various elements of the procession are peculiar to Eton: the crews wear outfits worn by 19th Century sailors with blue, brass-buttoned jackets, white "duck" trousers and striped shirts (in their crew's colours); their boaters have been decked-out (by the matrons (known at Eton as 'Dames') of the boy's houses) with large flower arrangements around the brims; the coxs wear midshipmen's uniforms with frock-coats and bicorne hats. At the climax of the rowpast each crew must stand up in their boat, with oars raised in salute and then remove their headgear. These are shaken over the water on the orders of the cox with the words: "hats off to Eton, hats off to Windsor, hats off to the Queen (or King)". The flowers, previously loaded onto the hats, fall into the water, creating the picturesque sight of boats floating past accompanied by flowers sprinkled over the surface of the water. Standing up in a narrow wooden racing boats is a remarkable feat and occasionally an oarsmen or, indeed, an entire crew suffers the indignity of falling into the Thames before a large cheering crowd.
The ribbons retained with this hat are those of the 'Prince of Wales' (‘Upper Boats’ 2nd VIII) and 'Britannia' ('Lower Boats' 1st VIII).*
Various members of the Verey family of Barnsley House, Cirencester, Gloucestershire were educated at Eton. The hat bears the name "Hugh Verey" but it came from the estate of David Cecil Wynter Verey (1913-1984) who was educated at Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge. He served as a Captain in the Royal Fusiliers and member of the Special Operations Executive during WWII. In later life he was a noted architectural historian and High Sheriff of Gloucestershire. His wife was the renowned garden designer and writer Rosemary Verey, famed for her planting at Barnsley House and her designs for various other gardens.
* Britannia is now in the 'Upper Boats' 3rd VIII but in the early 20th Century was the 'Lower Boats' 1st VIII.
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