St. Albans Pageant, 1907: Queen Elizabeth at Gorhambury.

Courtesy of St. Albans Museums.


The project team produced regular blog posts over the course of the period 2013-2017 (covering the years funded by the AHRC) grant. These blog posts can be found below.

  • Here be Dragons, or Strange News out of Essex: (More) Giant Lizards at the Pageant!

    Last December I wrote about Egbert the sixty-foot fire-breathing dinosaur, a sixty-foot, ‘as large as a church’, who stole the show at the Birmingham Pageant of 1938. Other pageants included dinosaurs in scenes such as St. Wilfred’s in Sussex (1965) to commemorate the discovery of the first positively identified dinosaur fossils nearby in the 1820s.

    Many pageants included dragons, proving that Historical Pageants are at least as cool as Game of Thrones (probably more ...

  • A Visit to Kynren

    By Mark Freeman

    On Saturday 9 July 2016, several members of the ‘Redress of the Past’ team set out for Bishop Auckland, County Durham, to see an event called ‘Kynren’. Subtitled ‘An Epic Tale of England’, this event was not billed as a historical pageant, but it carries many echoes of the pageant tradition.

    Kynren 1

    Above: A scene from Kynren

    Kynen runs for much of the summer, on Friday and Saturday nights, starting at 9.30pm ...

  • The World’s Most Famous Strip-Girl, Part Two

    A few  months ago I blogged about the Coventry Godiva Pageants. Recently, while perusing the archives at the Hull History Centre, I came across this letter from 1979 written by none other than Hull University’s grumpy poet librarian, Philip Larkin to his subsequent biographer, Anthony Thwaite:

     ‘I used to watch the Pageant, with its annual Lady Godiva from the window of my father’s office in the Council House. Godiva was always a disappointment ...

  • Countdown to the Scarborough exhibition

    By Mark Freeman

    Scarborough 1

    Above: Scarborough Art Gallery, The Crescent

    Today (4 July 2016) I paid a visit to Scarborough to discuss the ongoing preparations for our exhibition at the Scarborough Art Gallery, in association with our project partner the Scarborough Museums Trust. The exhibition is mainly about the Scarborough historical pageant of 1912, and will contain text, images and many objects relating to this important event in the history of the town.

    The exhibition will ...

  • The Horbury Pageant Players (or a Pageant that wasn’t)

    The post-war era – a time of rationing, scarcity, and prolonged austerity – was a very difficult time to hold pageants. Despite this, the people in the village of Horbury, West Yorkshire seemed determined to hold what was referred to as the ‘second historical and religious’ pageant (though I can find nothing about the earlier one) in November 1947.

    A summer gala held at the end of August attracted 5000 people and raised over £300 for the ...

  • A Pageant By Radio

    Every now and again one is struck by a newspaper review of a pageant which is so benign and gives so few details about the actual performance (other than what could be gleaned from the programme) that one wonders whether the journalist in question actually bothered going to the trouble of visiting the pageant at all. Journalists from the Times had a habit of wandering off during pageants set in particularly beautiful settings to have ...

  • Great reserves of glamour

    Searching the online archive of the Spectator (which, to the great credit of the publishers, is freely-searchable and freely-available to all), I came across the following striking feature from the regular ‘A Penny of Observation’ column from 17 July 1931, entitled 'Glamour' which captures both the immense absurdity often connected to Pageants, whilst getting to the heart of what the act of commemorating actually does. The column ends by asking, with more than a hint ...

  • Godebog! - by Kathryn Thompson

    Kathryn Thompson has been working on our project for the past week, focusing on the Colchester Pageant of 1909. 

    Over the past week, I’ve been looking at the Colchester Pageant, 1909. Its pageant master was Louis Napoleon Parker, and as such it was one of the more ‘traditional’ pageants. The pageant included the usual characters: Boadicea (Boudicca!) riding in on her chariot to defeat the Romans and encourage the people to ride with her ...

  • 'Speeds unbefitting of a library' - by Guy Gardener

    In our final blog this week, Guy Gardener, our third undergraduate from Exeter working on the pageants project, talks about the strange, reverential atmosphere of working in the British Library and his work on the 1911 Festival of Empire.

    When entering the British Library, one is confronted with a vast, open space bustling with the buzz of the pursuit of knowledge. As every second passes, new knowledge is being acquired by the thousands of people ...

  • 'Dark, dusty rooms' - by Chandler Goddard

    In our second guest blog post this week, another visiting researcher from Exeter Penryn Campus, Chandler Goddard to tell us his experiences of working in archives, and how Historical Pageantry connects to his own interest in amateur dramatics and ideas of public history.

    As an undergraduate student studying history, this week has introduced me to my first experience working within an archive and as part of a public history project. Both of which have been ...