Pageant of the Mayflower and the Pilgrim Fathers
Under the auspices of the Cambridgeshire Sunday School Union
Place: Guildhall (Cambridge) (Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England)
Number of performances: 5
7 and 8 December 1920
7, 8, 10 December in the evening; 9 December in the afternoon and evening.
Name of pageant master and other named staff
- Director and Arranger [Pageant Master]: Moore, David
- Dance Choreography: Miss Hilda Budwell and Miss Trowson
- Connecting Narrative: Dr. J.A. Crowther
- Orchestra Directed by:
- Advertising and Acting Director: Peter Blowers
Names of executive committee or equivalent
Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)
- Crowther, Dr J.A.
- Moore, David
Names of composers
Numbers of performers
Object of any funds raised
In aid of the Sunday Schools’ Union
Tercentenary of the voyage of the Mayflower
- Grandstand: Not Known
- Grandstand capacity: n/a
- Total audience: n/a
Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest
Key historical figures mentioned
Music selected from old MSS in the British Museum by E.J. Dent. A large chorus’, including the choir of St. John’s College and orchestral players. Music included:
- Extracts from ‘Comus’ and Marlow’s ‘Doctor Faustus’
- ‘Wilhelmus von Nassonwe’ (the old Dutch national anthem)
- Thomas Morley’s English Madrigals
Newspaper coverage of pageant
Cambridge Daily News
Cambridge Independent Press
Book of words
Other primary published materials
Pageant of the Mayflower and the Pilgrim Fathers. Cambridge, 1920.
References in secondary literature
Archival holdings connected to pageant
- Copy of programme in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
Sources used in preparation of pageant
There were a series of events in 1920 held to commemorate the tercentenary of the Mayflower voyage, which nonconformist churches and organisations, such as the Sunday School Union, were particularly eager to participate in. The Cambridge pageant was wholly separate from the much larger pageants, Southampton and Plymouth pageants (both 1920), written and directed by the Reverend Hugh Parry. The pageant was also performed in London, Manchester, Lincoln, Huddersfield, Norwich and elsewhere.1 The pageant had been planned since February 1920, at a meeting in the Guildhall including the University Vice-Chancellor and visiting academics from Harvard, at which Professor Hazeltine said ‘he counted both countries as his homes … He felt equally at home here as in America, and he hoped that in future more men and women would adopt his course; it would do much for the furtherance of the best interests of both countries.’2
The Cambridge Independent Press reported that ‘The Sunday School Union has for many years done work of really great national value, the ultimate results of which cannot well be overestimated, and it is hoped that the public of Cambridge will show their appreciation of the Union’s quiet, unostentatious work by supporting the pageant.’3 The paper described the pageant as ‘part of the general celebration of the Mayflower Tercentenary, and within its six episodes [it] embodies a faithful and vivid series of pictures of the trials, joys, sorrows, aspirations, and, in short, the living personalities of the principal actors in an epoch-making era in the world’s history. The action shifts from an English village in 1608 to Leyden, in Northern Holland (1619), and finally consummates in New Plymouth in 1621.’4 Costumes were lent by the Perse School players.
The director of the pageant, David Moore, wrote the Cambridge Daily News protesting against the misconception, put about in the paper, that the pageant was being performed by children: ‘The Pageant will range the whole gamut of the emotions, from mad passion to pitiful grief, from comedy to the terribly tragic; only very capable adults could suitably express these emotions.’5 The correspondent also drew attention to a peace ceremony of the Omaha Tribe, the ‘Wa Wan’, which ‘will be rendered in all its wild, weird distinctiveness by the choristers of St. John’s college, for whom permission has been kindly given … It is a great occasion we are commemorating and all concerned are wholehearted in their efforts to do “simple honour to brave men.”’6
The pageant was deemed ‘a triumph of all concerned’, with the Cambridge Independent Press singling out former Cambridge students John Robinson (of Corpus Christi) and William Brewster (of Peterhouse).7 The newspaper went on ‘The action and acting of the play are remarkably good, and have been created with an eye for historical accuracy’, as well as praising the dances, which were ‘very properly applauded to the echo’.8
- Nottingham Evening Post, 26 August 1920, 3.
- Cambridge Independent Press, 20 February 1920, 9.
- Cambridge Independent Press, 19 November 1920, 10.
- Cambridge Daily News, 23 November 1920, 3.
- Cambridge Independent Press, 10 December 1920, 8.