English Church Pageant

Pageant type

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Place: Fulham Palace (Fulham) (Fulham, Middlesex, England)

Year: 1909

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 10


10 June-24 1909

Initial date range: 10-16 June 1909. Four extra days held the following week. Part I was performed at 3pm and Part 2 at 8pm

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Pageant Master: Lascelles, Frank
  • Pageant Master: Moss, Hugh
  • Conductor of Music: Mr Francis Shaw
  • Hon. Secretary and Treasurer: Mr Frank Murray
  • Hon Consulting Solicitor: Mr Harvey Clifton
  • Literary Secretary: Mr Arthur Croxton
  • Hon. Auditor: Mr John Ockleshaw
  • Hon Accountant: Mr G. Roby Pridie
  • Mistress of the Robes: Mrs Croxton
  • Master of the Horses: Mr Hugh Pollard
  • Properties: Mr George E. Kruger
  • 10 men, 1 woman = 11 total

Names of executive committee or equivalent

  • President of the Executive Committee: The Bishop of London, Arthur Winnington-Ingram
  • Chairman: Rev. Walter Marshall
  • Dr H.P. Allen
  • Rev. H.N. Bate
  • Rev. Percy Dearmer
  • Rev. E.E. Dorling
  • Mr W.H. St. J. Hope
  • The Provost of King’s College
  • Mr C.R. Peers
  • Mr C.O. Skilbeck
  • Mr T. Martin Tilby
  • 11 men, 0 woman = 11 total

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

  • Hope, W.H. St. John
  • Dorling, Rev. E.E.
  • Peers, C.R.
  • Dearmer, Percy
  • Skilbeck, C.O.
  • Bede


Part I

Scene I – W.H. St. John Hope 

Scene II – Rev. E.E. Dorling 

Scene III – C.R. Peers 

Scene IV – Rev Percy Dearmer

Scene V – C.O. Skilbeck

Scene VI – C.R. Peers

Scene VII – W.H. St. John Hope

Scene VIII – W.H. St. John Hope

Scene IX – Rev E.E. Dorling

Scene X – C.O. Skilbeck

Part II

Scene I – C.R. Peers

Scene II - W.H. St. John Hope

Scene III - W.H. St. John Hope

Scene IV – C.R. Peers 

Scene V – W.H. St. John Hope

Scene VI – Rev. Percy Dearmer 

Scene VII – Rev. Percy Dearmer

Scene VIII – W.H. St. John Hope

Scene IX – Rev. E.E. Dorling

Scene X – Rev. Percy Dearmer

Bede, Ecclesiastical History

Names of composers

  • Henry VI
  • Tallis, Thomas
  • Lawes, Henry
  • Crüger, Johann
  • Croft, William
  • Wesley, Samuel Sebastian

Numbers of performers


Men, women, children, horses

Financial information

Financially a failure (‘Ecclesiastical Intelligence’, The Times, 22 May 1910, 4).

Object of any funds raised


Linked occasion


Audience information

  • Grandstand: Yes
  • Grandstand capacity: 7000
  • Total audience: 178000


There were 20000 visitors to the dress rehearsals, 118000 visitors to the first run of performances, and another 40000 to the extra days put on; this made a total of 178000 (Letter from William Henry Waud, Steward-in-Chief of the Church Pageant, The Times, 28 June 1909, 9).

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Associated events

  • Lectures on the scenes of the Pageant by Rev J.F. Kendall, University of Cambridge.
  • Service given by Bishop of London on the Pageant Ground (Sunday 13 June).
  • Missionary meeting by the Central Board of Missions on the Pageant Ground, chaired by Archbishop of Canterbury (Sunday 20 June). 
  • Communion service at St. Etheldreda’s Church for inauguration of Pageant (June 10)

Pageant outline


Distant trumpets herald the arrival of St. George, who states that present Englishmen owe their Merry England to those ‘who came long years ago.’ St. George is then joined by the founder-saints Alban, Ninian, David, Patrick, German, and Ia, who gather around him. Each saint steps forward and introduces themselves. St. Ia “Is here to speak for womanhood: For women dare when men forsake and flee, and work when men have rest. Forget us not.” All offer blessings to God, before St. George begins to sing the intonation of Psalm cxvii.

Part I

Scene I. The Publication in Britain of the Edict of Constantine, 313

A street scene in Silchester, with the newly-built Roman church in the background. A motley crowd of townsfolk and county folk is shown talking and laughing, and a civic procession arrives, joined by priests, laymen and Bishop Restitutus. A procession bearing the text of the Edict arrives to the sound of trumpets and cheering. A duumvir reads the Edict aloud, before placing it back in the coffer. The procession leaves to take the Edict to the Basilica for formal promulgation, as the church choir bursts into The Ambrosian Te Deum.

Scene II. The Alleluya Victory, 430

This scene shows how Britons taught and inspired by the Gallic Bishops (Germanus of Auxerre and Lupus of Troyes) repelled an invasion of an army of Scots and Saxons. The scene begins with Germanus and Lupus leading a crowd of Christians, some in baptising clothes, holding crosses. Germanus instructs the fearful Britons to believe in God and to chant ‘Praise be to God’ in ‘British Tongue’, i.e. Alleluya. The enemy approaches Germanus and Lupus, who appear alone, before Germanus raises his cross and cries ‘Alleyuya!’ three times. The hidden Britons reply, in unison, three times, at which the enemy runs away. When they have left the Britons emerge, and, led by Germanus and Lupus, sing Gloria Patri.

Scene III. The Foundation of Iona by St Columba, 12 May 563

Two white-robed Druids are cooking herbs in a little Pictish village in the island of Hy, now known as Iona, watched by children. St Columba approaches with twelve monks, led by a boy carrying a cross, all singing ‘In Te Christe’. The Picts gather round Columba and the Druids ask Columba from where and under whose order he has been sent. When Columba states he has been sent by Christ the Druids react angrily, ordering Columba to leave. Columba refuses, stating that he came in peace, and plants the cross in the ground. Columba’s followers range over the site, a group of three monks at each corner holding a cross. Columba remains in the middle, as St Patrick’s hymn (Lorica) is sang. After the hymn the monks and Columba leave to bring their boats and possessions ashore, followed by the Picts.

Scene IV. The Coming of St. Augustine, 597

Peasants arrive on the scene followed by courtiers, Bishop Luithard, and three deacons. King Ethelbert arrives with an escort of guards and Queen Bertha, and takes his place on a throne, to await the ‘strangers’. Ethelbert promises that while he will welcome friends, he will not change his faith, and that the old gods and old customs suffice for him. Augustine and his company enter in procession, headed by a monk bearing a cross and another with a picture of a crucifixion, followed by sailors and porters. The monks sing ‘Peregrine Tone’ with Alleluyas in Latin. Lutihard and Bertha go forward and kneel to Augustine, who then advances to the King’s throne. An interpreter translates St Augustine’s proclamation that there is only one God, and that heaven is open to all believers in Jesus. Ethelbert answers that the words are fair, but unproven—stating that his own gods are warriors—and points Augustine on to Canterbury, where he will have safety and protection. The King and Queen leave; as does Augustine and the Monks, singing in Latin the ‘Deprecamur’.

Scene V. Aidan and Oswald at Bamborough, c. 635

King Oswald, walking with Aidan and followed by Oswiu, thegns, ladies and monks, enters a scene with a laid table in the foreground, and a crowd of country folk in rough and ragged garments in the background. As the crowd shouts ‘Alms!’ Oswald gives money to a thegn to distribute. The thegn does so, before returning to inform Oswald that many are poor and weak and need more sustenance. The thegn explains that they have come from all over the land, persecuted by Britons ‘from the hillls’ who were Christian in name but not in actions. The King tells the thegn to distribute the meat from the table and to break the silver dish into pieces and distribute that as well. To cheers, the King leaves with Bishop Aidan.

Scene VI. Dunstan and the Monks, 964

This scene is set at the dining hall of the Old Minster at Winchester, where a meeting is to take place. There is a stage at one end of the arena, with the other end filled with townsfolk. Bishop Athelwold, with a number of Benedictine monks, come in and sit down. Trumpets sound and in comes a procession of courtiers, followed by King Edgar, Queen Elfleda, and Archbishop Dunstan. The subject under discussion is Athelwold’s hope of reintroducing Benedictine rule—the monastic houses, known as canons, had become ‘practically secular communities’. Edgar greets the meeting, and tells Athelwold to speak first. Athelwold decries the slothful and shaming life of the canons. The canons reply that, while they may no longer live like the men of former days, they serve their cause better nonetheless, and implore the King to let them alone. The Queen speaks in favour of the canons. Dunstan replies to the King’s request for judgement that he does not know the best way forward, and hopes that God will guide them. A priest declares that he has had a vision of Christ leaning forward from the cross to speak, ‘Just is thy sentence, change not.’ Dunstan declares it the voice of God, and states that ‘ancient rule must prevail once more in England.’ Athelwod instructs the canons to embrace the change, as black habits are brought forward and thrown before the canons—most of whom refuse them, but a few put them on. All then leave, some still verbally disputing.

Scene VII. The Sacring of King William, Christmas Day, 1066

This scene was chosen to illustrate the importance of the rite of election and anointing of an English sovereign, carried out without variation from the 8th century until the coronation of King Edward VII in 1901. The action is set in the abbey church of St Peter, at Westminster. While the King is being anointed, there is a hubbub outside as Norman soldiers, mistaking the meaning of the assenting shouts, set fire to buildings around the abbey. The anointment is completed nonetheless, and the scene ends with the King kneeling while the Archbishop blesses him.

Scene VIII. The return of Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury, from Exile in December 1170

Part I: A crowd lines the streets of Canterbury. A procession enters consisting of citizens, chaplains, clerks, monks, and the Archbishop. Cheers meet his arrival. At the close of the scene four knights and their retinue are seen in the distance riding furiously towards Canterbury.

Part II: The four knights approach the Archbishop, who refuses pleas from his monks to hurry away from the trouble. The knights ask where the traitor is, to which Thomas replies that he is no traitor but God’s priest, asking what they want. They order him to absolve and restore to communion those he has excommunicated, and restore to office those he has suspended. When he refuses, they murder him.

Scene IX. The Granting of the Great Charter, 1215

This scene shows the moment when King John meets the rebellious barons and the Lord Mayor to discuss their demands. The scene begins with the king’s tent being erected and furnished by workmen. When it is ready King John appears, preceded by sixteen barons, twelve great lords, the Master of the Temple, the Papal Legate, seven bishops, and the archbishops of Canterbury and Dublin, all with various scribes and attendants. The 24 barons and Mayor then arrive, all, except the mayor, in armour with swords. The King asks of their demands, to which FitzWalter replies that they demand justice and freedom for all men, such that no King can transgress. The King asks the barons to trust his word, but FitzWalter insists that it is on parchment his word is required. The King consults with his party, and eventually consents.

Scene X. Miracle Play and Piligrimage Scene (c. 1530)

Taking place in a market square of a country time, a group of village folk consisting mostly of poor people but also some well-to-do persons, watch part of a performance of ‘The Play of the Shepherds’ from the Chester Mystery Plays, which details the shepherds’ journey and meeting of Christ at birth. Following the end of the scene, all present sing ‘O Worship the King’, marking the end of part I.

Part II

Scene I. John Wycliffe at St. Paul’s, 1377

The scene takes place in the Lady Chapel of St Paul’s. At a long table the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Courtenay, the Bishop of Winchester, William of Wykeham, and four other bishops, take their seats, soon to be joined by the Mayor of London, the two sheriffs, and several aldermen in civic regalia. As more people crowd round, they are joined by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and Sir Henry Percy, Earl Marshall, with John Wycliffe. The Bishop of London asks Percy with what right he exercises authority within the church, to which Percy replies he does as he wishes—a position which is supported by John of Gaunt. Tempers flare. The men argue over whether Wycliffe will sit or not; Courtenay is threatened by John of Gaunt, at which point the crowd surges forward to protect Courtenay. Wycliffe is taken away under the protection of sergeants-at-mace.

Scene II. The Funeral Procession of King Henry V, 12 November 1422

The funeral procession passes from St. Paul’s to the Abbey, accompanied by the chant of Dies Irae. The procession includes a huge amount of religious and civic dignitaries, decked out in regalia and carrying royal banners. The Chariot with the King’s body is pulled by six horses.

Scene III. The Refounding of King’s College, Cambridge, and the Laying of the First Stone of the New Chapel, St. James’s Day, 1446

Four masons enter with the foundation stone and tackle. Soon after, a large procession singing ‘Urbs Beata Jerusalem’ enter, consisting of university representatives, college members, and King Henry VI with his officers and household members. After the King sits down another procession of the Mayor and Corporation of Cambridge enters. The King addresses the crowd, notifying the reasons for the enlargement and expressing his desire to lay the first stone of the new chapel. The stone is then laid, blessed, and a psalm sang. All leave, singing ‘Angularis Fundamentum’.

Scene IV. The Suppression of a Monastery and the Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536

Part I: Two Commissioners of the King arrive at a house of Cistercian nuns, and enter. After a short interval the Abbess emerges and addresses the gathered country folk, explaining that the house must yield its house and goods to the King. The expelled nuns then leave, the Abbess coming last as country folk crowd round her. The Commissioners shut and seal the doors.

Part II: A crowd of men enters, headed by three of the principal leaders of the Pilgrimage of Grace—Robert Aske, Sir Robert Constable, and Lord Darcy. A few are armed. As they reach the middle of the scene they are met by a small group of horsemen, led by a pursuivant, who asks them why they ride in arms against the King. They reply that they do not, but that they are armed to defend the churches from evil counsellors who seek to rob them. The pilgrims state their intention to take their grievance to the King. When the Pursuivant tells them not to meddle in the affairs of the state, and tries to stop them from passing, he and his men are captured by the Pilgrims who carry on their way.

Scene V. The Coronation procession of King Edward VI from Westminster Hall to the Abbey, 20 February 1546-7

A large procession made up of nobility, civic figures, religious figures, and the King himself under a canopy.

Scene VI. The Consecration of Parker, 1559

Taking place at Lambeth Palace, the scene shows a procession of Bishops and registrars entering the chapel, followed by another procession of chaplains and Matthew Parker, together with various other bishops. The concluding words of the ‘Veni Creator’ are heard. Parker is then elected Bishop, and blessed by the other Archbishops and Bishops present.

Scene VII. Presentation of the Authorised Version of the Bible to James I by the Translators, 1611

A procession enters the gardens of Hampton Court, consisting of King James I, Prince Henry, the Lord Chancellor and various courtiers. The translators then enter, headed by George Abbott, Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop Lancelot Andrewes, Dr John Overall, and the Dean of St Paul’s. The Bible is presented to the King, who replies, thanking the translators for their work.

Scene VIII. The Execution of Archbishop Laud, 10 January 1644-5

The scene is the red-draped scaffold on Tower Hill, surrounded by spectators and soldiers. With the tolling of the bell of the chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula a procession comes from the Tower, including officers, the headsman with his axe, and Archbishop Laud. Laud takes his place on the block, and prays as his head is chopped off. The coffin is brought forth to receive the body, and is then carried off by the priests and clerks of All Hallows, chanting the opening sentences of the Burial Service.

Scene IX. The Acquittal of the Seven Bishops, 1688

A doorway at the back of the scene represents the door of Westminster Hall, guarded by a few soldiers. A crowd is gathered, waiting for the verdict. The atmosphere is excitable and tense. When the decision is made, and the bishops acquitted, the crowd goes wild. The Jury emerges to great fanfare and hearty congratulations. The Bishops then appear, prompting cries of joy, and they then bless people as they move through the crowd.

Epilogue. A procession illustrating the Eighteenth Century

A procession comes into the arena. It comprises: the Banner of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge (1698), supported by the original five members; the Banner of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (1701); the Methodist Revival, consisting of farmers, miners, artisans, citizens, and John and Charles Wesley; the Crusade Against Slavery, which was made up of ‘Negroes in white cotton coats and breeches, bare-legged’, as well as William Wilberforce and Henry Thornton; the Evangelical Revival and Church Missionary Society (1799), supported by its four founders; Seven Immortal Churchmen of the Period. When all marshalled, the saints of the prologue again appear. All present then sing the final hymn.

Key historical figures mentioned

  • George [St George] (d. c.303?) patron saint of England St Alban
  • Ninian [St Ninian] (supp. fl. 5th–6th cent.) missionary and bishop St David
  • Patrick [St Patrick, Pádraig] (fl. 5th cent.) patron saint of Ireland St German
  • Restitutus (fl. 314), Romano-British bishop
  • Germanus [St Germanus] (d. c.437/48) bishop of Auxerre St Lupus
  • Columba [St Columba, Colum Cille] (c.521–597) monastic founder St Augustine
  • Æthelberht I [Ethelbert] (d. 616?) king of Kent
  • Bertha (b. c.565, d. in or after 601) queen in Kent, consort of Æthelberht
  • Oswald [St Oswald] (603/4–642) king of Northumbria
  • Áedán [St Áedán, Aidan] (d. 651) missionary and bishop
  • Dunstan [St Dunstan] (d. 988) archbishop of Canterbury
  • Edgar [called Edgar Pacificus] (943/4–975) king of England
  • Elfleda (c.878-c.920) Queen of England
  • William I [known as William the Conqueror] (1027/8–1087) king of England and duke of Normandy
  • Ealdred [Aldred] (d. 1069) archbishop of York
  • Becket, Thomas [St Thomas of Canterbury, Thomas of London] (1120?–1170) archbishop of Canterbury
  • Tracy, William de (d. in or before 1174) one of the murderers of Thomas Becket
  • Fitzurse, Reginald (d. 1173x5) one of the murderers of Thomas Becket
  • Morville, Hugh de (d. 1173/4) one of the murderers of Thomas Becket
  • John (1167–1216) king of England, and lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and of Aquitaine, and count of Anjou
  • Fitzwalter, Robert (d. 1235) magnate and rebel
  • Burgh, Hubert de, earl of Kent (c.1170–1243) justiciar
  • Langton, Stephen (c.1150–1228) archbishop of Canterbury
  • Wyclif [Wycliffe], John [called Doctor Evangelicus] (d. 1384) theologian, philosopher, and religious reformer
  • Sudbury, Simon (c.1316–1381) administrator and archbishop of Canterbury
  • Courtenay, Peter (c.1432–1492) bishop of Winchester
  • John [John of Gaunt] duke of Aquitaine and duke of Lancaster, styled king of Castile and León (1340–1399), prince and steward of England
  • Percy, Henry, first earl of Northumberland (1341–1408) magnate and rebel
  • Phelip, William, Baron Bardolf (1383/4–1441) nobleman and soldier
  • Alnwick, William (d. 1449) bishop of Norwich and Lincoln
  • Babington [Babyngton], William (d. 1453) abbot of Bury St Edmunds
  • Bourchier, Thomas (c.1411–1486) cardinal and archbishop of Canterbury
  • Beaufort, Henry [called the Cardinal of England] (1375?–1447) bishop of Winchester and cardinal
  • Henry VI (1421–1471) king of England and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine
  • Aske, Robert (c.1500–1537) lawyer and rebel
  • Constable, Sir Robert [iv] (1423–1488) gentry
  • Edward VI (1537–1553) king of England and Ireland
  • Manners, Henry, second earl of Rutland (1526–1563) courtier and soldier
  • Sir John Gresham (c.1495–1556) Lord Mayor of London
  • Seymour, Edward, duke of Somerset [known as Protector Somerset] (c.1500–1552) soldier and royal servant
  • Parr, William, marquess of Northampton (1513–1571) nobleman and courtier
  • Fitzalan, Henry, twelfth earl of Arundel (1512–1580) magnate
  • Dudley, Ambrose, earl of Warwick (c.1530–1590) magnate
  • Tunstal [Tunstall], Cuthbert (1474–1559) bishop of Durham and diplomat
  • Talbot, George, sixth earl of Shrewsbury (c.1522–1590) nobleman
  • Grey, Henry, first Baron Grey of Groby (1547–1614) courtier and administrator
  • Paulet, John, fifth marquess of Winchester [Lord St John] (1598?–1675) royalist nobleman
  • Russell, John, first earl of Bedford (c.1485–1555) courtier and magnate
  • Latimer, Hugh (c.1485–1555) bishop of Worcester, preacher, and protestant martyr
  • Parker, Matthew (1504–1575) archbishop of Canterbury and patron of scholarship
  • Barlow, John (fl. 1517–1552) bishop of Chichester
  • Coverdale, Miles (1488–1569) Bible translator and bishop of Exeter
  • Hodgkin, John (d. 1560) Dominican friar and bishop-suffragan of Bedford
  • Bellingham, Sir Edward (d. 1550) lord deputy of Ireland
  • Guest, Edmund [Edmund Gest] (1514–1577) bishop of Salisbury
  • James VI and I (1566–1625) king of Scotland, England, and Ireland
  • Abbot, George (1562–1633) archbishop of Canterbury
  • Henry Frederick, prince of Wales (1594–1612)
  • Egerton, Thomas, first Viscount Brackley (1540–1617) lord chancellor
  • Andrewes, Lancelot (1555–1626) bishop of Winchester
  • Overall, John (bap. 1561, d. 1619) bishop of Norwich
  • Laud, William (1573–1645) archbishop of Canterbury
  • Sterne, Richard (1595/6–1683) archbishop of York
  • Clotworthy, John, first Viscount Massereene (d. 1665) politician
  • Sancroft, William (1617–1693) archbishop of Canterbury and nonjuror
  • Trelawny, Sir Jonathan, third baronet (1650–1721) bishop of Winchester
  • Ken, Thomas (1637–1711) bishop of Bath and Wells and nonjuror
  • Lake, Arthur (bap. 1567, d. 1626) bishop of Bath and Wells
  • Lloyd, Charles (1784–1829) bishop of Oxford
  • Wesley, John (1703–1791) Church of England clergyman and a founder of Methodism
  • Wesley, Charles (1707–1788) Church of England clergyman and a founder of Methodism
  • Wilberforce, William (1759–1833) politician, philanthropist, and slavery abolitionist
  • Thornton, Henry (1760–1815) banker and political economist

Musical production

26 players: cornets, F trumpets, B Flat Trumpets, Trombones (alto), Trombones (tenor), Trombones (bass), Tubas, Timpani, Bass Drum, Cymbals. Pieces included:
  • Te Gloriosus to laudat exercitus 
  • The Ambrosiam Te Deum
  • Nunc Dimittis
  • Gloria Patri
  • Lorica
  • ‘In Te Christe’, H.B.S. Liber hymnorum, vol. xiii 
  • English Hymnal, 212
  • Psalm cxiv: ‘Alleluya. In exitu Israel de Aegypto: domus de populo barbaro. Alleluya.’
  • Deprecamur’
  • Vivat Rex in eternum
  • ‘Herusalem Et Sion Filliae’, Missale Sarum, Burntisland ed. Col. 551
  • Dies Irae
  • The Song of Agincourt
  • Urbs Beata Jerusalem
  • Angularis Fundamentum
  • Sanctus, composed by King Henry VI
  • ‘Ein’ Feste Burg’, English Hymnal, 362.
  • Veni Creator
  • Nicene Creed, from Merbecke, Book of Common Prayer, 1550
  • Scotch and Genevan Psalters

Newspaper coverage of pageant

Aberdeen Journal

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette

Bucks Herald

Burnley Express

Chelmsford Chronicle

Derby Daily Telegraph

Dover Express

Dundee Courier

Evening Telegraph

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette

Grantham Journal

Hastings and St Leonards Observer

Hereford Times

Hull Daily Mail

Leamington Spa Courier

Lichfield Mercury

Luton Times and Advertiser

Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser

Manchester Evening News

Stamford Mercury

Sussex Agricultural Express, The

Tamworth Herald

West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser

Western Times

The Times

The Manchester Guardian

The Observer

[likely covered in all nationals]

Book of words

The Book of the English Church Pageant. London, 1909.

Price: 2s. 6d.

Other primary published materials

  • The English Church Pageant Handbook. London, 1909.

References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • English Heritage National Monuments Record—Photographs and postcards.

Sources used in preparation of pageant

  • Wakeman, H.O. Introduction to the History of the Church of England. London, 1897.
  • Green, J.R. A Short History of the English People. London, 1874.
  • The Statute of Provisors. 1351.
  • Fletcher, C.R.L. Introductory History of England. London, 1907.
  • ‘Concerning the Service of the Church’ in The Book of the Common Prayer (unclear which edition or date).
  • Jessopp, Dr. Augustus. Before the Great Pillage. London, 1901.
  • Overton, J.H. The Church in England. London, 1897.
  • Wido, Carmen de Hastingae praelio, in Chroniques Anglo-Normandes, ed. Francisque Michel. Rouen, 1836, 11.
  • ‘The Second English Coronation Order’, in English Corporation Records, edited by Leopold G. Wickham Legg. Westminster, 1901.
  • La Vie de Saint Thomas le Martyr, archevesque de Canterbury, par Garnier de Pont Sainte Maxence, Poete du xii siècle, edited by C. Hippeau. Paris, 1859.
  • In Natali Sancti Thome Martiris Sequencia, Westminster Missal, vol. I, cols 55, 56.
  • ‘The Enterement of the moste famous and victorious prynce Kynge Harry the vth weiche died at boisdevyncenes in France the xxxj day of August 1422’, MS Coll. Arms, 1st M. 14, f. 29.
  • Funeral procession of King Henry V based on a contemporary description in the Heralds’ College and MS. Coll. Arms, 1st M. 14, f. 29.
  • Hall, Edward. The Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Famelies of Lancastre and Yorke, etc. London, 1548.
  • The Victorious Actes of Kyng Henry the fifth, fol. 1; Chroniques d’Enguerran de Monstrelet. Paris, 1596.
  • MS. 123, So. Antiq. Lond.
  • Register of Matthewe Parker, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury (Vol. I. folios 2-11)
  • Bailey, T.J. Ordinum Sacrorum in Ecclesia Anglicana Defension, 1870.
  • Hastings, J., Dictionary of the Bible. London, 1898.
  • Scrivener, D. The Authorised Edition of the English Bible, Cambridge, 1884.
  • ‘An order set down by king James the First for translating of the Bible’ in Gilbert Burnet, The Abridgement of the History of the Reformation of the Church of England, vol. II. London, 1683.
  • A General View of the History of the English Bible. 3rd ed. 1905.
  • Heylin, P. Cyprianus Anglicus: or the history of the life and death of ... William [Laud] ... Archbishop of Canterbury. ... Also the ecclesiastical history of ... England, Scotland and Ireland, from his first rising till his death. London, 1671.
  • ‘A sermon of the reverend father master Hugh Latimer, preached in the shrouds at Paul’s Church in London, on the eighteenth day of January, Anno 1548’. Unknown where the pageant organisers found their version, but a version is in Sermons By Hugh Latimer. New York, 1906.
  • Barlow, Dr. William. ‘Summe and Substance’, in Cardwell, E. A History of Conferences and other Proceedings connected with the Revision of the Book of Common Prayer; from the year 1558 to the year 1690. Oxford, 1840.
  • Wood, A. History and Antiquities of the University of Oxford (vol. ii). Oxford,1786.
  • Clark, A (ed). Register of the University of Oxford, vol. ii. Oxford, 1889.
  • Letter of Bishop Bilson. Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, 19 April 1605.
  • ‘An order set down by King James the First for translating of the Bible’ in Gilbert Burnet, The Abridgement of the History of the Reformation of the Church of England, vol. II. London, 1683.
  • Cardwell, E. Documentary Annals of the Reformed Church of England; being a collection of injunctions, declarations, orders, articles of inquiry, &c., from the year 1546 to the year 1716: Oxford, 1839.
  • Bishop Westcott, A General View of the History of the English Bible. 3rd ed. London, 1905.


Originally proposed by the Rev. Walter Marshall of St. Patrick’s Church, Hove, the English Church Pageant was at first going to take place in Brighton. When, during planning, the event grew considerably, the Bishop of London was brought on board and the location changed to London to maximise its potential—though Marshall was still retained as vice-president.1 Above all the pageant aimed to reassert the role of the Church in the modern period by drawing attention to the importance of its past in national life. The pageant Book of Words was particularly forthright in its acknowledgement of the precarious position the Church faced in the twentieth century. Recognising that the theory of evolution had ‘permanently altered the ways of human thought’ and that ‘Church History is hardly a factor in our present-day civilization at all’, it urged that the dramatic history-telling of pageants could maintain the place of the Church in the narrative of civilization:

Pageants can, it is true, only work on broad lines, but they can cut deep on those lines. They can stir the imagination. They can popularize the historic sense. They can point the way to further knowledge, and create the desire for it. They can allay hatreds and prejudices, and evoke loyalties. They can give proportion, balance, breadth. In a word they can educate.2

The Bishop of London elaborated on the explicit purpose of the pageant in an inaugural communion at St. Etheldreda’s Church before the pageant opened, stating that, while it was not the idea to portray a ‘perfect history of the Church’, the pageant would show how the Church had always stood for freedom and faith throughout the history of the nation. The pageant ‘from beginning to end was an offering of devotion.’3 As the chairman wrote to the Times when requesting volunteers:

We want this pageant to be an education for old and young; and we hope that it will show by its pictures of bygone life and the influence which religion had upon that life, something of the struggles and the trials of those who fought for the faith.4

The official material of the pageant was also upfront in acknowledging the influence of previous pageants on the decision to hold a Church-focused event. The Archbishop of Canterbury, for example, wrote to Marshall, telling him that:

To me it seems quite clear that the Pageants of the last few years have been effective to a marked degree in teaching average men and women the history of their own country. If this has been true of the Pageants generally, it is I think certain that the Church of England ought to take like means of bringing home to everybody our own wonderful and Divinely-guided story.5

It made perfect sense therefore to bring in Frank Lascelles, an experienced and successful pageant-master, who clearly recognised the possibility of colourful drama to bring history to life.6 The pageant was a colossal undertaking, with around 4,200 performers and 20,000 more involved in its organisation.7 Containing twenty episodes, some with considerable detail, it is unsurprising that the pageant was considerably long, being split into an afternoon part and an evening part. Preparing for the event therefore entailed considerable work. For the making of the 6,000 costumes, for example, there was a large workroom where six machines were put to work from 9am to 7pm each day; there were also dedicated ironers, cutters and finishers.8 Each episode was organised by a different London parish, from where the actors were drawn; and the important ecclesiastical figures of each district usually took the lead roles.9

After much positive publicity for the appointment of Lascelles, fresh from his success as master of the Quebec Tercentenary Pageant in the previous year, his name was actually taken off the final programme and replaced with that of Hugh Moss.10 According to Lascelles, as he stated in a letter to The Times intended to correct ‘certain misleading reports’, he had come into insurmountable conflict with the Executive Committee due to their disagreement about the necessity of the pageant-master having ‘undivided authority’. He indicated, however, that after his months of planning he still wished the pageant every success, and that he still had respect and faith in the Bishop of London.11 The newly-available Lascelles instead produced the Bath Historical Pageant that year.

There were also other elements of controversy, the most notable coming on the opening day of the pageant. When the Bishop of London arrived by motor car to give the inauguration communion, he was met by ‘some half-dozen of Wycliffe preachers rushed towards the car shouting, “We protest against the Bishop of London taking part in the pageant mass. He is a traitor to Protestants. Oh! For another Bishop Ridley.”’ 12 According to the Aberdeen Journal, the Wycliffe preachers saw ‘the spectre of Rome in almost everything ecclesiastical these days’ and believed that ‘traitorous Romanising clergy hope by means of the pageant to make more easy the undoing of the glorious Reformation.’13 While the police quickly dispersed this small crowd, the incident was widely reported across the country.

While the pageant took place in the capital city, it engendered a response from all parts of Britain. After expressions of a desire for more Welsh church history were supported with letters from the Bishop of St. David’s in Wales, Dr. Owen, the episode depicting the “Foundation of the Cathedral Church of New Sarum,” was replaced with one having a particular bearing on Welsh history, “The ‘Alleluia’ Victory.” This episode was then undertaken by members of the Church of Wales resident in London.14 Special trains were put on from other parts of the country to London, to facilitate travel to the event, and it was even suggested that visitors came from as far away as America.15 The Pageant was also well patronised by important visitors, such as David Lloyd George, who attended the final performance in spite of the poor weather.16 For the many civic dignitaries that passed through the Royal Box throughout the pageant’s run, the event was an occasion to dress in the finery of office and make ‘quite a little pageant of their own’.17

Being an event of considerable size and pomp, the Church Pageant garnered considerable interest in the press—including the satirical periodical Punch. On 16 June 1909, the magazine ran a full-page cartoon showing George Bernard Shaw standing in front of a poster for the pageant exclaiming: ‘Some people have all the luck. I can’t get my religious play past the censor.’18 The magazine also joked how ‘Contrary to announcements the Church Pageant opened with a realistic representation of the Flood’.19 Indeed, this poor weather continued, disrupting many of the performances and playing ‘sad havoc with some of the ladies’ dresses.’20 On the final night the front of the stage was ‘a sea of liquid mud’.21 Other actors too had problems with their costumes, though not because of the rain—The Times quipped that ‘the cassocks of the monks were too short to conceal their modern trousers’.22 While the main aim of the pageant was clearly instructional, then, it still had humorous elements. The Times, at the least, found fun in the constantly shifting crowds and the colour of the costumes.23 G.K. Chesterton, who played Dr Johnson, also enjoyed the event—though he had his doubts whether the mass of the audience gained much historical enlightenment from the performance.24

In terms of success the pageant had mixed results. Criticism abounded in the press. For The Times, the choice to have the music in plain-song to attain ‘absolute historical accuracy’ was ‘apt to become tedious except to the ear of the purist.’25 The portrayal of Becket’s murder was also heavily criticised, so much so, indeed, that the pageant organisers dropped the episode entirely part way through the pageant’s run.26 Yet, as sheer spectacle, the English Church Pageant clearly met its goal. The epilogue, when the whole of the 4,200 performers assembled on the arena with torches, along with the symbolic ship of the pageant poster and St. George, singing ‘O God, Our Help in Ages Past’, was described as a ‘very wonderful thing’ by the Times.27 The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser was still more gushing in its praise, describing the ‘artistic and histrionic talent’ which ‘succeeded in producing a display which cannot fail to delight and charm all who are privileged to witness it’. This ‘instruction’, the paper argued,

at a time when the Anglican Church is made by a discontented minority the object of so many unfair attacks… should have a most beneficial effect in demonstrating to the nation at large some extent of the debt it owes to the Church for her past and present work in its midst.28

The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette too saw the pageant as a bulwark against outside criticism of the clerical Establishment, arguing that at ‘a time when the Government is attacking a section of the Church it is well that people should have their minds recalled to what is actually the history of the Church.’29

In terms of attendance, the pageant was also successful. According to William Henry Waud, the Steward-in-Chief, there were 20,000 visitors to the dress rehearsals, 118,000 visitors to the first run of performances, and another 40,000 to the extra days put on—making a total of 178,000.30 Unfortunately, however, the pageant was a financial failure. It did not make a profit, and the following year the Bishop of London appealed to church-goers for support after he came to an agreement with the Army Pageant Committee to allow them to hold their 1910 pageant at Fulham Palace in return for a commission on ticket sales by Church Pageant agents.31 Yet despite the financial loss, the English Church Pageant did seem to have a lasting impact. In future years, for example, local churches in England gave lectures on the event, using lantern slides of photographs to enliven the memory to church-goers who perhaps did not attend first time around.32 As the Burnley Express noted, ‘the majority cannot be at Fulham.’ Yet through memorabilia like the book of words ‘they may get a striking idea of what it means.’33


  1. ^ English Church Pageant Book of Words (London, 1909), ix.
  2. ^ Ibid., 1-2.
  3. ^ ‘The English Church Pageant’, Aberdeen Journal, 11 June 1909, 5.
  4. ^ ‘The English Church Pageant of 1909’, The Times, 7 November 1908.
  5. ^ The English Church Pageant Handbook. London, 1909, 23.
  6. ^ ‘Mr. Frank Lascelles and Historical Pageantry’, in The English Church Pageant Handbook (London, 1909), 26.
  7. ^ ‘The English Church Pageant’, Aberdeen Journal, 11 June 1909, 5.
  8. ^ The English Church Pageant Handbook (London, 1909), 57; ‘The English Church Pageant’, Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 14 January 1909, 3.
  9. ^ ‘English Church Pageant’, Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 21 May 1909, 12.
  10. ^ For the Quebec Tercentenary Pageant, see H.V. Nelles, The Art of Nation-Building: Pageantry and Spectacle at Quebec’s Tercentenary (Toronto, 1999).
  11. ^ Letter from Frank Lascelles to the editor of the Times, The Times, 11 June, 1909, 9.
  12. ^ ‘The English Church Pageant’, Aberdeen Journal, 11 June 1909, 5.
  13. ^ ‘Our London Letter’, Aberdeen Journal, 14 June 1909, 5.
  14. ^ ‘English Church Pageant’, Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 19 February 1909, 14.
  15. ^ ‘English Church Pageant’, Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 21 May 1909, 12.
  16. ^ ‘The Church Pageant’, The Times, 28 June 1909, 9.
  17. ^ ‘English Church Pageant’, Lichfield Mercury, 18 June 1909, 3.
  18. ^ Punch, or the London Charivari, 16 June 1909, 415.
  19. ^ Punch, or the London Charivari, 16 June 1909, 415.
  20. ^ ‘The English Church Pageant’, The Times, 11 June 1909, 9.
  21. ^ ‘The Church Pageant’, The Times, 28 June 1909, 9.
  22. ^ ‘The English Church Pageant’, The Times, 11 June 1909, 9.
  23. ^ Ibid., 9.
  24. ^ G.K. Chesterton, ‘Modern and Ancient Pageants’, July 3, 1909, 350-351; G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles (London, 1930), 257-261.
  25. ^ ‘The English Church Pageant’, The Times, 11 June 1909, 9.
  26. ^ ‘English Church Pageant’, Lichfield Mercury, 18 June 1909, 3.
  27. ^ ‘The English Church Pageant’, The Times, 11 June 1909, 9.
  28. ^ ‘The Church Pageant’, Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 18 June 1909, 13.
  29. ^ Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 23 April 1909, 9.
  30. ^ To the Editor of the Times from William Henry Waud, Steward-in-Chief of the Church Pageant, The Times, 28 June 1909, 9.
  31. ^ ‘Ecclesiastical Intelligence’, The Times, May 22 1910, 4.
  32. ^ ‘Church Pageant Lecture’, Dover Express, 15 April 1910, 10; ‘Romford’, Chelmsford Chronicle, 20 January 1911, 8.
  33. ^ Burnley Express, 12 June 1909, 4.

How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘English Church Pageant’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1062/