Charles Kingsley Centenary Pageant
- A Village Pageant on the Occasion of the Centenary of Charles Kingsley
Place: ‘The Mount’, a meadow facing the rectory (Eversley) (Eversley, Hampshire, England)
Number of performances: 3
11–13 June 1919, 2.30pm
Name of pageant master and other named staff
- Pageant Master: Elliot, Arthur
- Masters of Music: Herman Finck, Esq., Philip Page, Esq.
- Stage Managers: Messrs A.R. Dormer, H. Mearing, H. Marsham
- Box Office: Messrs Coombs, Pace, Swift, Gibbs, Sparvell, Dearlove, Wilkins, W. Taylor, Steele, Mearing, Over
- Keepers of the Ground: Messrs W.G. Lewis, E. Hooker, T. Tomlin, H. Bunch, J. Jarvis, E. Maine
- Master Carpenters: Messrs Watts
- Director of Traffic: Brig-Gen E. McNaughten
Names of executive committee or equivalent
- Chairman: The Rev. M. Tanner, MA
- Mrs Delme Radcliffe
- Mrs Doxat
- W.P.R. Ellis, Esq.
- Captain Arthur Eliot
- Miss Jubb
- Mrs Reeves
- Miss Seed
- Mrs Tanner
- John Tindal, Esq.
- Mrs Verini
- Hon. Secretary: Miss Tanner
- Hon. Treasurer: W.P.R. Ellis, Esq.
- Hon. Medical Officer: Ernest Maberly, MRCS, LRCP
- Hon. Librarian: Miss Currie
- Hon Secretary to the Pageant Master: Miss N. Eliot-Cornell
- Hon. Auditors: Messrs Morgan, Hardcastle, and Morgan
- Bankers: London County, Westminster and Parrs
- Director of Traffic: Brig-Gen E. McNaughten
Patrons: Her Majesty Queen Alexandra and His Grace Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Bishop of Winchester; also Duke and Duchess of Wellington; Earl of Bessborough; Earl Curzon; Lord Tennyson; Field-Marshal Sir Douglass Haig, GCB; F-M Sir Evelyn Wood, VC; Sir Anthony Cope; Lt-Gen John Seely; Sir Henry Newbolt, DLitt; Major Lionel de Rosthchild; The Headmasters of Cheltenham College, Wellington School, Westminster School; Mrs. Horace Walpole; Miss Rose Kingsley; Mayors of Reading and Basingstoke; and E.F. Benson [the popular author, not the actor and pageanteer].
Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)
- Eliot, Arthur
- Lucas, E.V.
(Captain) Arthur Eliot was a distinguished wartime officer and music-hall comedian and writer. E.V. Lucas supplied the prologue; he was a famous English humourist, essayist, playwright, biographer, publisher, poet, novelist, short story writer and editor.
Names of composers
- Lyons, Neil
- de Moraes, Vincius
Numbers of performers300 - 400
Object of any funds raised
A village hall for Eversley. The erection of a village hall was regarded as ‘badly needed… The hall to be known as The Charles Kingsley Hall… if sufficient surplus of funds remain after the Kingsley Hall has been built the belfry awaits a further addition of bells to make the merry chimes which festive occasions require.’1
Linked occasionCentenary of Charles Kingsley’s birth in 1919.
- Grandstand: Not Known
- Grandstand capacity: n/a
- Total audience: 4000
Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest
Special standing room tickets booked through WI secretaries 1s. 6d. Children in standing room half price.3
- Aeroplane passenger flights courtesy of Messrs Vickers, from temporary aerodrome, The Warren Field, Church Farm, at 25s. All proceeds in aid of the pageant.
- Visits to Charles Kingsley’s study at the Rectory and tours of the Church.
Opening of Pageant: Bell Ringing and Hoisting of the Flag
Prologue spoken on 11 June by Arthur Bourchier; 12 June by Gerald Du Maurier; 13 June by George Tully.
Lines for Eversley ‘Village Pageant’ written by E.V. Lucas:
One hundred years ago! Twas then was born
That friend whom Eversley must ever mourn:
That valiant Fighter for the Right and Best
Whose name is sweet in every Hampshire breast;
Whose spirit still frequents each lane and dell,
That once his vivid presence knew so well.
Eager in joy and vigorous strife,
Enthusiast for all that’s best in life,
Such was the Man to honour whom we’re met,
The friend that Eversley will ne’er forget.’
Episode I. Bishop Woodlock Procession
In the early years of the 14th century Bishop Woodlock journeyed from Winchester with his suite, and was instituted priest to Eversley on the presentation of Nicholas Heigheman.’ A Procession of nuns, pages, chaplains, clerks, musicians, and a Latin Ceremony.
Episode II. The ‘Village Tournament’ and Village Games
i) Jousts: Red Knight versus Blue Knight
ii) Morris Dance
iv) Musical Ride: ‘The Fish and Fly’ Ballet by Arthur Eliot; music by Finck’.
‘Four friars go fishing; finding the sun and the contents of their flagons too strong, they rest themselves by the side of the stream. A rainbow trout discovers the sleeping Anglers, and after examining their fishing rods, calls to the other trout in the stream to see their sleeping enemies. Suddenly they notice other Foes arriving in the shape of fishing flies—but soon they make friends, break up the fishermens’ rods, fill the flagons with water from the stream, and dance away to the cool pond in the wood. The Friars awaken, find their rods have been destroyed, and that they no longer enjoy the contents of their flagons.
Episode III. ‘The Eversley Gnomes’
Boys of the St. Neots School; a dance.
Scenes from the life of Charles Kingsley.
‘The Old Men of Eversley Woods’.
‘The Wise old Man’.
‘The Tired Old Man’.
‘From Charles Kingsley’s Library’.
‘The Three Fishers’
Words by C. Kingsley, sung by Miss Gabrielle Vallings.
‘Group of Charles Kingsley’s Contemporaries’.
Episode IV. ‘Harvest Home’, Assembly of Players
‘Golden Rain’ (display of aerial acrobatics by Captain T. Broome, Distinguished Flying Cross).
Grand Finale. God Save the King
Key historical figures mentioned
- Woodlock, Henry (c.1250?–1316) bishop of Winchester
- Kingsley, Charles (1819–1875) novelist, Church of England clergyman, and controversialist
- Music Composed, Selected and Arranged: Neil Lyons.
- Musical Scenes and Numbers by: Neil Lyons, Dr. John Ivimey and Phillip Page.
- Musical Director: Herman Fink.
- The Band of the Coldstream Guard.
Pieces performed included:
- ‘Friars’ Quartet’ by Dr. John Ivimey; sung by Messrs Chipcase, Edwards, Carter, Nash.
- ‘An Interruption’, Lyons; ‘Where My Caravan has Rested’, De Moraes; ‘Carnation Time’; ‘The Broken Doll’ sung by Miss Mabel Russel’.
Newspaper coverage of pageantSpectator
Timaru Herald (New Zealand)
Dundee Evening Telegraph
Aberdeen Weekly Journal
Book of words
- ‘A Village Pageant’ On the Occasion of the Centenary of Charles Kingsley. London, 1919.
Other primary published materials
References in secondary literature
Archival holdings connected to pageant
- Copy of programme held in the Hampshire Local History Centre, Winchester. 78M75/PX14.
Sources used in preparation of pageant
- Bolingbroke, Bernard. A General History of Hampshire. London: 1861.
Charles Kingsley is today a somewhat neglected Victorian writer. If he is remembered at all it is for his strange underwater fable of Victorian morality, The Water-Babies (1863). Historians of literature may include Alton Locke (1849), Kingsley’s condition of England novel about the repeated failures of a self-educated tailor, or perhaps his novel of chauvinistic historical and imperial conquest, Westward Ho! (1855). It is thus strange that the tiny Hampshire village of Eversley put on a major Pageant, whose patrons included many famous figures of the day, given that Kingsley was not even born there (he was born in Holne, Devon, in 1819), although he was curate at the village 1842–44 and Rector from 1844 until his death in 1875. However, in 1919, Kingsley’s reputation was far larger than today.
Kingsley himself held many posts and represented many things, including Chaplain to Queen Victoria (from 1859); Regius Professor of History at Cambridge (1860–69); and Canon of Chester Cathedral (1870–73). He was a quintessentially energetic Victorian. After an early career as a successful romantic historical novelist, he became concerned with the plight of the poor in industrial England, which he saw (along with figures such as Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin) as inevitably causing social tension. It was with this in mind that he advocated working-class education (becoming a lead founder of The Working Men’s College in 1854), as well as a number of social reforms. Like Carlyle, he believed in hierarchy and was not a democrat. He suggested that emigration (forced, if necessary), was the only solution to the plight of the working poor, and that these emigrants had the duty of creating imperial colonies. Kingsley was also a defender of a robust vision of Anglicanism, against figures such as J.H. Newman who converted to Roman Catholicism; he was also an early supporter of Charles Darwin.
Kingsley was the embodiment of many of the sureties of Victorian civilization, which were by 1919 increasingly challenged by intellectuals of the younger generation – one thinks of Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians (1918). He represented, therefore, a more confident imperial Britain of the pre-war era. Patrons of the pageant read as a Who’s Who of Edwardian Britain. The list was headed by Queen Alexandra, widow of Edward VII, and she was joined by key figures from the Church of England: the Archbishop of Canterbury Randal Davidson (who held the See from 1903 to 1928), and the Bishop of Winchester. Noble patrons included the Duke and Duchess of Wellington and Earl Curzon, while other prominent figures were the Foreign Secretary, Lt-Gen John Seely, the soldier, Liberal Politician, and lord lieutenant of Hampshire5; Field-Marshal Douglas Haig (not, at that point, the Butcher of the Somme but the saviour of Britain) and Field Marshal Sir Evelyn Wood, who had distinguished himself in the Boer War and Mahdist Rising. Literary figures included the wife of Horace Walpole, the novelist E.F. Benson, Henry Newbolt the poet whose 1921 government report on ‘The Teaching of English in England’ gave literature its place in national life, and not least Charles Kingsley’s daughter, Rose.
Like many Pageants of the immediate post-1918 period, the Kingsley Centenary Pageant had an underlying martial spirit, with bands from the Coldstream Guard and 11th Hussars. The programme asked for ‘Indulgence…for all shortcomings in the “Village Pageant”, including a lack of rehearsals, distance from the station and, most of all, “the few numbers of men available, owing to the times in which we live”’. The key-note of the Pageant was ‘simplicity’.6 Rustic simplicity had to contend with modern entertainments for an audience that had mostly travelled from London. Flights were given from a temporary aerodrome and an aerial acrobatics display was given by a former fighter ace, Captain T. Broome. Quite what Charles Kingsley would have made of this is unclear.
Also unclear is what Kingsley, who in his day was an adept populariser of history, would have made of the Pageant itself. The Pageant was written by the writer and comedian Captain Arthur Eliot (best known for the widely popular musical revue The Better ‘Ole: A Fragment from France, which ran for over 800 performances from 1917 to 1920, and prompted T.S. Eliot to deny kinship)7, with a prologue by E.V. Lucas that was read by prominent actors, including the actor-director Gerald Du Maurier (father of Daphne and famous for playing Captain Hook in the first performance of Peter Pan). Rather than a simple history of Eversley, with Romans, Normans, and so on, Arthur Eliot presented a spectacle of singing and dancing, most of which bears little relationship either to the village or to Kingsley. Bishop Woodlock of the first scene is a decidedly minor figure, known mainly for crowning Edward II. This scene is taken directly from Frances Eliza Kingsley’s Charles Kingsley: Life Letters and Memories of His Life but is uncredited.8 The Medieval tournament, Morris Dancing, and archery practice which happens in the next scene is pure showmanship. Similarly, the Ballet ‘The Fly and the Fish’, though evidently entertaining, can hardly be said to be of great significance to whatever narrative was being presented.
The second half of the Pageant is more connected with Charles Kingsley’s life, featuring several scenes from his life in Eversley, including ‘villagers who had known Kingsley well, among them his groom and gardener.’9 Kingsley’s poem, ‘The Three Fishers’, which begins Episode IV, is probably his most famous, describing three fishermen setting out to sea. They are caught in a storm and drown. The arrangement of the song was by John Hullah and sung by Gabrielle Vallings (a grand-niece of Kingsley). Along with visits to Charles Kingsley’s study in the rectory, where commemorative Kingsley centenary medallions were one sale, this added much-needed literary authenticity to a spectacular, though only loosely historical extravaganza.10
Eversley was some five miles from Winchfield Station (to which special trains arrived from London Waterloo). 4000 spectators came over the three days. Few, it seems, were put off by the threat of an historical highwayman robbing pageant-goers during their visit: ‘It is well remembered locally, that, about 60 years ago, a highwayman “held up” passengers near Eversley Church. Should the episode be repeated on the occasion of The “Village Pageant” H.W. Charlcraft, Esq., will hand any of his “takings” to the Fund.’11
The pageant, often connected to wider articles on the Kingsley centenary, had a wide press coverage as far as Scotland and even New Zealand. There was also a short newsreel film made of it for Gaumont Graphics and shown 16 June 1919.12 However, despite all these factors, the pageant does not appear to have been a great financial success. The Village Hall, for which the Pageant was raising funds, was not opened until 1959.13 By this time Kingsley’s reputation had declined markedly, and the Hall was not named on his behalf, although the local primary school, founded by Kingsley in 1853, still bears his name.
- ‘A Village Pageant’ On the occasion of the centenary of Charles Kingsley, (Fleetway Press, London, 1919), p. 11.
- Timaru Herald CVIII, no. 16889, 9 August 1919, 9.
- Tamworth Herald, 9 June 1928, 1.
- All information from ‘A Village Pageant’ On the occasion of the centenary of Charles Kingsley.
- Seely, John Edward Bernard, first Baron Mottistone (1868–1947), politician and soldier, ODNB entry.
- ‘A Village Pageant’ On the Occasion of the Centenary of Charles Kingsley (London, 1919), 27.
- Ronald Schuchard Goodrich, Eliot's Dark Angel: Intersections of Life and Art (Oxford, 1999), 104–05.
- Frances Eliza Kingsley, ed., Charles Kingsley: Life Letters and Memories of His Life (Cambridge, 2011 ), 74.
- Timaru Herald CVIII, no. 16889, 9 August 1919, 9.
- Patricia Srebrnik, ‘The Re-Subjection of “Lucas Malet”: Charles Kingsley’s Daughter and the Response to Muscular Christianity’, in Muscular Christianity: Embodying the Victorian Age, ed. Donald E. Hall (Cambridge, 1994), 199.
- ‘A Village Pageant’ On the Occasion of the Centenary of Charles Kingsley, 30.
- Record accessible at British Universities Film and Video Council, accessed 22 October 2015, http://bufvc.ac.uk/newsonscreen/search/index.php/story/77551.
- Get Hampshire, accessed 22 October 2015, http://www.gethampshire.co.uk/news/local-news/museum-plan-eversley-village-hall-7016527.
How to cite this entry
Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘Charles Kingsley Centenary Pageant’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1026/