Pageant of Surrey

Pageant type

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Place: Pyrford Court (Woking) (Woking, Surrey, England)

Year: 1937

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 18


3–13 July 1937 

3 July at 3pm and 7pm; 5–10 July at 3pm and 7pm; 12–13 July at 3pm and 7pm

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Writer, Producer, and Pageant Master: Ede, Christopher
  • Organiser: Mrs. E.B. Shaw-Mackenzie

Names of executive committee or equivalent


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

  • Ede, Christopher

Names of composers

  • Elgar, Edward

Numbers of performers


Financial information

The Pageant made over £1000 profit [Surrey Advertiser, 7 September 1940, 2].

Object of any funds raised

In aid of local Hospital Charities

Linked occasion


Audience information

  • Grandstand: Yes
  • Grandstand capacity: n/a
  • Total audience: n/a

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Associated events


Pageant outline

King John Signing the Magna Charta

Surrey’s Association with the Peasants’ Revolt, 1381

Chaucer watches the Characters of the ‘Canterbury Tales’ arrive at the Tabard Inn

The Wars of the Roses

Making Gunpowder in Surrey at the time of the Armada

The Departure of the English Fleet in 1588

James I entertained at Farnham Castle after a day’s hunting

Cavalier and Roundhead Fighting for the Castle

Samuel Pepys on a visit to Epsom

William Pitt fighting a duel

Smugglers in Surrey

Surrey in 1937

Key historical figures mentioned

  • John (1167–1216) king of England, and lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and of Aquitaine, and count of Anjou
  • Chaucer, Geoffrey (c.1340–1400) poet and administrator
  • James VI and I (1566–1625) king of Scotland, England, and Ireland
  • Pepys, Samuel (1633–1703) naval official and diarist
  • Pitt, William [known as Pitt the younger] (1759–1806) prime minister

Musical production


Newspaper coverage of pageant

Surrey Mirror
The Times
Sunderland Daily Echo
The Stage
Gloucestershire Echo
Gloucester Journal
The Era
Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette
Yorkshire Evening Post
Gloucester Citizen
Biggleswade Chronicle

Book of words


Other primary published materials


References in secondary literature

  • Historical Pageantry for 100 Years, Get Surrey, 24 June 2005, accessed 23 May 2016,
    Written by David Clarke

Archival holdings connected to pageant


Sources used in preparation of pageant



The Pageant of Surrey, one of a great number held in the county, is notable for being the first directed by Christopher Ede, who became one of the leading post-war Pageant masters. Ede had previously been involved in the Pageant of Parliament (1934), but in 1937 he was still only 23. Though young in terms of Pageant Masters, Ede was resolved to modernize the genre, introducing ballet, dancing, and comedic scenes to keep the audience engaged.1 Assisting him as Organizer was Mrs Shaw-Mackenzie, who had been an organizer and producer for the Pageants at Ashdown Forest (1929) and Battle (1932). The Pageant was narrated by a character called Adam the Woodman. Adam was played by C.H.P. Hay, who had played Henry VIII at the Knole Pageant of 1931 and had featured in the Pageant of Parliament.2

The Pageant, and its young Pageant Master, garnered significant press attention, with The Era quoting William Hickey of the Daily Express as saying the publicity for the Pageant ‘“makes one want to throw everything else up… and go there.”’3 The Stage likewise praised many aspects of the pageant, whilst noting that its outdoor location meant that often the music was too quiet and speaking voices were drowned out.4 Nonetheless, the reviewer was struck by the message of the final scene which depicted contemporary Surrey in 1937: ‘a quick-moving scene of noise and mechanism and political wrangling, through which stalk the ever-grasping builders converting the woodlands of Surrey into [a] forest of boards advertising houses’.5 The Times also warmed to this theme, and to Ede's blending of social history with stories of Kings and Queens and local celebrities, praising Ede and noting that it was clear that ‘in setting the historical and social past of Surrey beside its superficial modern development, the producers hope to awaken a belated conscience in those who are making much of the country a traffic-ridden suburb.’6

Both the woodman narrator and the general anti-modernism of the final scene relate the pageant to two others performed in the local area. Written by E.M. Forster, the Abinger Pageant (1934) and England’s Pleasant Land (1938) both struck the same note of antipathy towards the England of the motor car and the ribbon housing development, which threatened to blot out England’s history as much as its countryside. The latter, in particular, contained strikingly similar scenes. In tragic irony, one of the players—Chaffney Elizabeth Gallager—was killed by a motorcar whilst cycling to the last performance of the pageant.[7] 

Despite this tragedy, the Pageant of Surrey was a great success, raising over £1000 for local hospitals.8 It also helped to launch Ede as a Pageant Master, who went on to direct the Bradford Centenary Pageant (1947), the Pageant of Boston (1951), and the Pageant of Guildford (1957).


1. ^ Surrey Mirror, 9 July 1937, 4.
2. ^ Surrey Mirror, 18 June 1937, 10.
3. ^ The Era, 8 July 1937, 2.
4. ^ The Stage, 8 July 1937, 6.
5. ^ Ibid.
6. ^ The Times, 5 July 1937, 12.
7. ^ Yorkshire Evening Post, 15 July 1937, 15.
8. ^ Surrey Advertiser, 7 September 1940, 2.

How to cite this entry

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