MP helping 115-year tradition to grow . .

A tree planted by Kathleen Burne, Head of the School, on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in June 1897.
A tree planted by Kathleen Burne, Head of the School, on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in June 1897.
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NORTH East Fife MP, Sir Menzies Campbell, is helping a St Andrews school maintain a 115-year tradition of marking Royal Jubilees.

As part of the Fife Diamond Garden Festival next Sunday, May 20, members of the public will be able to enter the private gardens of St Leonards to watch as Sir Menzies plants a tree to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

He will be adding to an impressive collection of Royal commemoration trees which was begun during festivities for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in June 1897.

The School Gazette from October 1897 records that the headmistress at the time, Miss Julia Grant, planted four trees as a memorial.

Subsequently, the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935 was marked with the planting of a tree, with a further one added on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

Intriguingly, the 1897 gazette also describes the celebrations which took place on the day.


It states: “Jubilee Day was celebrated with due observance at St Leonards School, and though some of us present were not perhaps without secret hankerings after the great London festivities, yet we all finally agreed that, since we were at school, we could not have commemorated the event in a more successful manner.”

The gazette describes how the national anthem was sung, an afternoon of sport was held and bonfires were lit across the coast and countryside.

St Andrews itself also staged a procession, featuring representatives of the university, the church, schools, sailors and the lifeboat service among others, although it was noted of the town’s decorations that: “Not many were found to surpass in brilliancy those of the school entrance.”!

The commemorative trees and an awful lot more can be seen as part of the Garden Festival, which is being run by Scotland’s Gardens, Fife in order to raise money for Scotland’s Garden charities (which includes Maggie’s Centres) and the St Andrews-based Association for International Cancer Research.

The beautiful gardens of the school and of the headmaster – both hidden from public view by walls – will be opened up from 11am until 5pm on Saturday and Sunday, May 19 and 20.


On the Sunday, at the “Big Tea,” homemade teas, cakes and scones will be available in a marquee from 1pm and schoolchildren from St Leonards, Waid Academy, Bell Baxter, Lawhead and Canongate will provide musical entertainment.

At 3pm Sir Menzies Campbell will plant the tree which is being donated by the St Leonards School Parents Association.

Lindsay Murray, who has been organising the school’s participation in the festival and is a former teacher at St Leonards, said: “We are thrilled that the gates of St Leonards are open to host this historic Diamond Jubilee Community Event for Scotland’s Gardens Charities and AICR.” 

Twelve gardens across Fife are taking part in the Fife Diamond Garden Festival and they can all be viewed for a £20 ticket, available in advance from Scotland’s Gardens or Cambo House, Kingsbarns. It will, however, be possible to come in for the Big Tea at St Leonards on the Sunday for the price of tea only. 

More details can be found at