I continue to be delighted what can be uncovered by Googling. I can’t remember what was my Google search, whatever it was it turned up Annals of Sandhurst – A chronicle of The Royal Military College from its foundation to the present day. Heinemann, London 1900. At 362 pages, I wasn’t intending to read it online. I idly dipped into the book, and happened on a page about the Bagshot Riot of 1835.
With the weather likely to keep us all indoors, I though this short extract from page 47 to 48, in the book might amuse,
So the Bagshot Riot of 1835 would never have occurred had the Surrey police been in any state of organization, but until some fifteen years later, when the unfortunate Vicar of Frimley put his head out of the window, and was shot dead by a burglar’s blunderbuss, the county did not even possess a Chief Constable. This Bagshot Riot was a very smart little affair though,of course, all very wrong and improper.
Bagshot in those days was the nearest big village to the College, and its inhabitants (like the Camberley folk of to-day) made a point of flocking to every big show that took place thereat. In the year in question, His Majesty William IV., accompanied by the great Duke of Wellington and many illustrious officers, came down to present new colours to the cadets. The whole ceremony was a magnificent spectacle, and was witnessed by a vast concourse of people, amongst whom Bagshot had, perhaps, the most numerous representatives. Everything passed off” well, and after the Royal party had gone, the cadets, bursting with loyalty, encored “God Save the King.” The encore was given, but the public failed to rise to the occasion, and as hats were not removed as willingly as the cadets approved, they took the liberty of knocking them off”. In the uproar that followed this apparent transgression of the laws of hospitality, a Bagshotman was heard to challenge the cadets to fight it out at Bagshot. The history of what came of the hasty challenge had best be given in the words of the late Colonel Cooper-King, who knew the College and its traditions better than any man on record.
” So straightforward a challenge,” he says, ” appealed to the fighting instinct of the race.
The first convenient half-holiday was selected as the occasion for accepting the proffered hospitality of the village. The visiting contingent numbered some fifty or sixty cadets, well provided with hockey-sticks. Later on, as the attention of the villagers became more marked, cap numbers were removed, and coats were taken off* and tied round their owners* necks by the sleeves, so as to give arms full play and protect the shoulders. On their way a stage-coach passed them, and, boy-like, the younger cadets hung on behind it until, at the instigation of one of the passengers, they were flogged off. The ire of the seniors was roused. Forming line across the road, they stopped the coach, and were proceeding to take summary vengeance on the coachman, when they were mollified by apologies, and the coach went on its way to Bagshot, where it changed horses, accompanied by the cadet guard. The daily papers of that year contain indignant remonstrances from passengers, who complained of the stoppage of the coach on the King’s highway. This was but the beginning of the entertainment. The village was stormed. The inhabitants, at first too few to resist, soon collected jn numbers. Sticks, guns, and other weapons were called into requisition, and the cadets saw that it was time to fall back on their base of operations. Sending the younger ones home, they covered their retreat and fought their way back, reaching the College in a somewhat battered and dishevelled condition, but in time for the last study of the day.”
There is no doubt that in this little affair the cadets came off second best whether any treaty of peace was made history does not relate, but Bagshot and the Royal Military College have remained on friendly terms ever since.