On 22 April 1869, Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, the second son of Queen Victoria arrived in Christchurch via rail and was met with huge crowds of excited Cantabs.
A grand carriage awaited him (with six jet black stallions) and the Prince was taken immediately on a procession, from the railway station (which was situated on the site of the Christchurch polytechnic) to the Clarendon Hotel (the hotel’s facade saved and known as part of the Clarendon Tower before her demolition in 2013) on the corner of Oxford Terrace and Worcester Street.
The Prince passed under three welcome arches in different parts of the city, with many following in every form of transportation imaginable! The procession only stopped once and that was in Cathedral Square so the National Anthem could be sung.
The Prince attended many events during his stay including a public picnic in Hagley Park where two bullocks were roasted to feed the crowds, ate at a luncheon (at the Town Hall in High Street) with 500 gentlemen guests, looked down over the Canterbury Plains from the Cashmere hills (by special request from Sir Cracroft Wilson who owned the Cashmere Farm), and danced at a Ball held at the Canterbury Provincial Chambers.
It seemed the Prince’s favourite day was at Riccarton with his host Jane Deans – although she had been too shy to meet the Duke in person. She did hear through other visitors that the Prince had enjoyed the peace and quiet and would have loved to stay a few days longer on the property. The Prince spent the day hosting a special luncheon, officially opened the driveway to Riccarton House (that began on the corner of Riccarton and Straven Roads at that time) and then went pigeon shooting in a farm paddock that is now the site of Christchurch Girls High, on the corner of Deans and Fendalton Avenues.