Gloucester Historical Pageant

Pageant type

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Place: Gloucester Park (Gloucester) (Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England)

Year: 1936

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 10


1–4 July 1936

[1 and 2 July at 6.30pm and 8.30pm; 3 July at 6.30pm and 8pm; 4 July at 3pm, 6pm, 8pm, and 10.15pm.]

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Pageant Master: Seeley, Mrs Violet

Names of executive committee or equivalent

Executive Committee

  • Chairman: Mr J.F. Buck
  • Hon. Secretary: Mr W.C. Virgo
  • Assistant Hon. Secretary: Mr J.S. Terry

Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)


  • Fullbrook-Leggatt, L.

Names of composers


Numbers of performers


Financial information


Object of any funds raised

To raise £10000 for the Gloucester Infirmary


[This aim was not achieved].

Linked occasion

Audience information

  • Grandstand: Not Known
  • Grandstand capacity: n/a
  • Total audience: 10000 - 20000


3985 attended on the first and 2382 attended on the third day, so the total audience figure is an estimate (Gloucester Echo, 2 July 1936, 1; and 4 July 1936, 6).

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Associated events

The Pageant was held in conjunction with a carnival

Pageant outline

‘The Fairies Come to Gloucester’

St John the Baptist Fair

Visit to Gloucester of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn

The Fairies Leave Gloucestershire

The Relief of Gloucester during the Civil War


Key historical figures mentioned

  • Henry VIII (1491–1547) king of England and Ireland
  • Anne [Anne Boleyn] (c.1500–1536) queen of England, second consort of Henry VIII

Musical production


Newspaper coverage of pageant

Gloucester Echo
Gloucester Citizen
Cheltenham Chronicle

Book of words


Other primary published materials


References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant


Sources used in preparation of pageant



Gloucester had previously held carnivals with attached pageants with the aim of raising money for the Gloucester Infirmary in 1927 and 1930 in a county that was no stranger to grand pageants, at Cheltenham in 1908, Stroud in 1911, and Tewkesbury in 1931. The success of the 1930 pageant became a measuring stick by which the 1936 Pageant fell short, in part due to the atrocious weather. Despite a widely-praised performance (‘glowing with colour and rich costumes, and distinguished by brilliant pageantry and striking grouping’), newspaper reports could not help but note that the 3985 who had paid to watch the pageant on the first day fell well short of the 6850 who had attended the opening in 1930. Unfortunately, attendances did not pick up later in the run, as the weather remained unsettled and showery throughout.1

That said, the Gloucester Citizen insisted that unfavourable comparisons with the previous outing, at which the weather had been good, were unjustified. Its conclusion was that ‘we have every reason to be heartily thankful that Gloucester missed what would have been a grave disaster, and for the large measure of success that was attained.’ The newspaper went on to note that:

Mere statistical fiends, who are never satisfied with anything less than fresh and ever-fresh records, may possibly look for askance at the figures; but those who realise the conditions of the weather and went about amongst the thronging crowds on Saturday evening can entertain no sort of doubt either as to Gloucester’s possession of the Carnival spirit, or the popularity of our Royal Infirmary’s appeal.2

The newspaper was true to its word and no indication of the Pageant’s financial outcome was printed, probably indicating an overall loss. Episodes were broadcast on national radio and a colour film was made of the pageant.3 Despite calls to make the Carnival and Pageant Triennial, the 1936 Pageant was to be the last such performance in the city.


1. ^ Gloucester Echo, 2 July 1936, 1.
2. ^ Gloucester Citizen, 6 July 1936, 4.
3. ^ Gloucester Echo, 2 July 1936, 6; Cheltenham Chronicle, 28 November 1936, 9.

How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘Gloucester Historical Pageant’, The Redress of the Past,