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Eileen Bailey, 2007
Pearly King & Queen
Jesse and Peggy Bird
Jesse & Peggy in their outfits in 1906 Christmas Day 1909 - wedding day Still dressing up in 1960's
The Pearly King & Queen 1906
Wedding Day 1909
The Pearly King & Queen 1960's

Jesse and Peggy Bird
The Pearly King & Queen 1960's

It was Margaret Eveleen Young who really started this trend of a Pearly King and Queen, when in 1906 she persuaded her new boyfriend Jesse Bird to become her King. Margaret E was to become my grandmother and her boyfriend was to become my grandfather.
No 26 High Street South
Peggy outside her Aunt's shop at 26 High Street South c1920
Known as Peggy to most, Grandma raided her aunt’s shop for old theatrical clothes and bit by bit she sewed hundreds of little pearl buttons onto the gown and the hat. Then she started on a waistcoat for granddad, trousers and the little peaked hat I remember as a child.

The first pearly king and queen as I said was in 1906. Don’t they look grand. We believe the photo was taken either at the front of the house in Little Street.

The trend for dressing up had been part of grandma’s life from a baby. Her birth family, Emma and Thomas Young were both part of the family theatre, a portable owned by her grandfather, Joseph Wells and his wife Maria; my great, great grandparents.

Peggy and Jesse Bird married in 1909 on Christmas day. Grandma was beautiful and granddad looks so smart and regal.

Although Peggy was the instigator of this whole affair Granddad took it in his stride and for the next 40 to 50 years they entered all the local fetes in the Northamptonshire area, winning many prizes and awards.

at a carnival in Spencer Park
Pearly King & Queen with 'Arry and 'Arriet

All this was done for charity, not a penny they raised went anywhere but to needy causes they had chosen.

Grandma eventually lost her partner when Granddad died at the end of the 1950’s, but the next fete she went ahead taking her son, my Uncle Vic as her King. Granddad would have been so proud of both of them.

At the Xmas lights switch-on 1984
Another Pearly King & Queen in 1984 - Christmas Lights switch-on

Note: The first Pearly Kings & Queens were so named after the pearl finish of the buttons which they stitched to their clothes.

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