The Golden Chain
This entry is based on information supplied by Dr Joan Darcy.
Place: St Paul's School (Derby) (Derby, Derbyshire, England)
Number of performances: 3
13, 14 and 15 April 1950
Evenings, at 7.30pm
Name of pageant master and other named staff
Producer [Pageant Master]: Pamplin, Mrs E. M.
Names of executive committee or equivalent
Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)
Pamplin, Mrs E. M.
Names of composers
Numbers of performers70
The cast comprised members of an amateur theatrical group, the Derwent Players; and members of St Paul's Church, St Paul's School and Mansfield Street Methodist chapel.
Object of any funds raised
Centenary of St Paul's Church and opening of St Paul's School.
- Grandstand: Not Known
- Grandstand capacity: n/a
- Total audience: n/a
There are no audience figures, but it appears that the pageant was very popular (see summary).
Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest
The New Church of St Paul's
Footsteps of the Great
The Sacrament of Light
Triumph of the Century
Saints and Martyrs
The Babe of Bethlehem
Key historical figures mentioned
Choir of St Mark's Church, directed by Mr Clifford Burton.
Newspaper coverage of pageant
Derby Evening Telegraph
(There is a photo of the cast on 21 April 1950)
Derby Daily Telegraph
Book of words
Other primary published materials
References in secondary literature
Archival holdings connected to pageant
Sources used in preparation of pageant
Derby was no stranger to historical pageants in the early post-war years: pageants had been staged there in 1946, 1948 and 1949. In 1950 'The Golden Chain' was performed in St Paul's School hall to mark the centenary of St Paul's Church, Mansfield Road, Chester Green; it also celebrated the opening of the new school. Performed by around 70 adults and children over three nights, it was written and produced by Mrs E. M. Pamplin, a writer of plays and pageants who was also producer of 'The Derwent Players', a local Dramatic Society. The script was organised chronologically, with tableaux based on local and national events and the history of the church from its foundation in 1850. The title and theme of 'The Golden Chain' were explained by the character Time:
This is the hour when we who gather here
Shall rally forth in brief array
Those valiant souls, who, as the years have fled,
Have forged for us a living mighty chain,
Each link a link of gold, each golden link bound fast within its fellow,
The whole strong chain linking the past with present.
It is said that the pageant was so popular that people queued and latecomers were turned away.
St Paul's Parish newsletter for May 1950 carried further information about the pageant, noting the success of the event, which had been 'presented before crowded audiences' during its three-night run: some people, indeed, had to be turned away. Those who did manage to obtain a seat, the newsletter reported
could not fail to have been impressed by the spirit in which the Pageant was staged. It was not merely a team spirit, it was the spirit of true Christian Fellowship. Ask anyone who took part! Grouses and grumbles there were, but they only served finally to make the group like one big happy family. Included in the family, we welcomed one, whom we may claim as a son of St. Paul’s, Mr. Clifford Burton, who 'came with rejoicing bringing his sheaves with him'!
One particularly admired feature of the pageant seems to have been a model of St Paul's Church, made by Mr Evan Wells. Scripts of the Pageant were sold after the performance, as were Centenary Souvenirs. It seems also that two photographs of the pageant (one of the final Tableau, and one of the Tiplady Sisters), taken by the Derby Evening Telegraph, were also made available for purchase. It was, all in all, a highly successful pageant - and indeed stands as evidence of the popularity of parish-level pageantry, with a strong Christian message, deep into the twentieth century.
How to cite this entry
Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘The Golden Chain’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1556/