Wilton House Pageant
The pageant was held under the auspices of the Salisbury Division Constitutional Association (i.e. the local Conservative party). The performers were drawn from the association’s membership.
Place: Gardens of Wilton House (Wilton) (Wilton, Wiltshire, England)
Number of performances: 1
30–31 June 1937
Name of pageant master and other named staff
- Pageant Master: Oliver, Edith
Names of executive committee or equivalent
Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)
- Oliver, Edith
Names of composers
Numbers of performers150
Object of any funds raised
Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest
Alfred as a boy reading an illuminated manuscript.
The King is roused into action by witnessing peasants suffering at the hands of the Danes.
St Edith rejecting the Crown
Nobles offer Edith the crown, which she rejects, preferring the habit of a novice.
Ela of Salisbury is dissuaded from Taking the Veil
Ela is attempting to escape from an unwanted suitor and is reunited with her husband, William Longespée.
Three Kings dine at Clarendon Palace
The Kings, Edward III, John of France, and David of Scotland are entertained by peasants dancing and singing songs.
Sir William Herbert takes possession of the Abbey, 1539
Herbert expels the nuns, who leave the abbey with quiet dignity. [William Herbert appears in the guise of a knight, but was not knighted until 1544].
Lady Jane Grey has homage performed to her
After this, Lady Jane shrinks from an apparition of a black-clad executioner.
Elizabeth I presents a lock of hair to Sir Philip Sidney
John Rose presents the first pineapple in England to Charles II
This scene was based on a painting attributed to Hendrik Danckerts, probably painted in or around 1670.
Squire Burchell’s arrival at Dr Primrose’s house
The scene is taken from Goldsmith’s Vicar of Wakefield.
Hon. Sidney Herbert requests that Florence Nightingale proceeds to the Crimea, 1854
Key historical figures mentioned
- Alfred [Ælfred] (848/9–899) king of
the West Saxons and of the Anglo-Saxons [also known as Aelfred, the Great]
- Edith [St Edith, Eadgyth] (961x4–984x7)
- Ela, suo jure countess of Salisbury (b. in
or after 1190, d. 1261) magnate and abbess
- Longespée [Lungespée], William (I),
third earl of Salisbury (b. in or before 1167, d. 1226) magnate
- Edward III (1312–1377) king of
England and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine
- David II (1324–1371) king of Scots
- Herbert, William, first earl of Pembroke
(1506/7–1570) soldier and magnate
- Sidney, Sir Philip (1554–1586) author
- Grey [married name Dudley], Lady Jane
(1537–1554) noblewoman and claimant to the English throne
- Rose, John (1619–1677) gardener and
- Charles II (1630–1685) king of
England, Scotland, and Ireland
- Primrose, James (1600–1659) physician
- Elizabeth I (1533–1603) queen of
England and Ireland
- Herbert, Sidney, first Baron Herbert of
Lea (1810–1861) politician
- Nightingale, Florence (1820–1910) reformer
of Army Medical Services and of nursing organization
Newspaper coverage of pageant
Book of words
Other primary published materials
References in secondary literature
Archival holdings connected to pageant
Sources used in preparation of pageant
- Goldsmith, Oliver. The Vicar of Wakefield. 1766.
- Charles II Presented with a Pineapple (c.1675-80). Painting attributed to Hendrick Danckerts. https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/406896/charles-ii-presented-with-a-pineapple
Wilton house was a venue for a number of pageants during the interwar period, with other pageants in 1928 and 1933 (the latter commemorating the tercentenary of the death of the Poet George Herbert, and involving a number of prominent cultural figures including Rex Whistler and Siegfried Sassoon—who met his future wife at the pageant). The 1937 pageant was one of several directed by the writer and Conservative Party activist Edith Olivier, who hosted gatherings of ‘Bright Young Things’ including William Walton and Cecil Beaton at Wilton House.1 The pageant was put on by the membership of the Salisbury Division Constitutional Association.
Beryl Hurley, ‘Edith Olivier’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry, accessed 10 March 2017, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/38311
How to cite this entry
Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘Wilton House Pageant’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1516/