Cranford Pageant

Pageant type

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Place: Cranleigh Showground (Cranleigh) (Cranleigh, Surrey, England)

Year: 2000

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 5


6–12 September 2000

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Pageant Master: Clarke, David
  • Co-Ordinator: Chrissy Matthews
  • Directors: Patricia Hislop; Adrian Elliott; Carolyn Townsend; Julie Phillips
  • Mistress of Robes: Yvonne Budd
  • Master of Horses: Arthur Cogger
  • Choreography: Shirley Dubbins; Linda Williams
  • Properties: Geoffrey King
  • Production Manager: Michael King
  • Chief Arena Marshall: Anne King
  • Sound: Alex Lyon
  • Lighting: Ian Maxwell
  • Technical Controller: Michael Walker

Names of executive committee or equivalent


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

  • Clarke, David

Names of composers


Numbers of performers


Financial information

The pageant was sponsored by Banham Burglary Protection, Cranleigh Freight Services, Home Trax, Lockyear Volkswagen, Manns of Cranleigh, and Roger N. Coupe Estate Agent.

Object of any funds raised

CHASE, Macmillan Cancer Relief, NSPCC and St Nicolas Parish Church Restoration Fund

Linked occasion

Part of the Millennium Celebrations

Audience information

  • Grandstand: Not Known
  • Grandstand capacity: n/a
  • Total audience: 2000

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Associated events


Pageant outline

Episode I. Pagan Rites and Rituals at Farley Heath, 100

Episode II. Frithuwald, Sub-King of Surrey, 674

There is excitement in the air as villagers from Cranleigh, Ewhurst, Wonersh, Bramley, Alford and Holmbury are summoned from their fields to greet Frithuwald, the Sub-King of Surrey.

Episode III. King Harthacnut Dies at Tovi the Proud’s Marriage Feast, 1042

Tragedy strikes when King Harthacnut arrives in Cranleigh to take part in the feast laid on for Tovi the Proud and his new wife, Mildrith.

Episode IV. Augustinian Canons Found a Church at Ewhurst, 1140

Episode V. Cranleigh’s First House of God is Built, 1171

Episode VI. Simon Frandell Kills Adam le Sutor the Cordwainer, 1262

Episode VII. The Great Pestilence Visits Cranleigh and Surrounding Districts

Episode VIII. Cranley Fair, 1450

Episode IX. Jousts at Cranley, 1450

A splendid fanfare is announced and the fair dissolves into the main attraction, the jousting tournament.

Episode X. The Surrey Musters, 1588

Local volunteers gather in Knole Park to help defend their country against the expected invasion from Spain.

Episode XI. Oliver Cromwell at Knole House, 1642 and 1657

Prior to routing a group of Royalist supporters in a Civil War skirmish on Shere road at nearby Horseblock Hollow, a small group of Parliamentary soldiers toast the hostess of a local inn. Cromwell and Richard Onslow bring good news to Cranleigh people.

Episode XII. Smugglers at Ewhurst Windmill, 1760.

The revenue officers arrive at Windmill Inn on the trail of a notorious gang of smugglers who move their booty to Shoreham to be hid in local homes, inns and churches.

Episode XIII. The Prince Regent Travels to Brighton, 1794

Episode XIV. Railway Mania Affects Cranleigh, 1865

Great excitement greeted the first steam train from Guildford, but its arrival was to sound the death knell for the long-established Wey and Arun Canal a few years later.

Episode XV. Local Characters

Local people of significance from the 19th and early 20th centuries are recalled from the past.

Episode XVI. Grand Finale

Final dance representing the past, present and future, followed by a firework display.

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Harthacnut [Hardecanute] (c.1018–1042) king of England and of Denmark
  • Cromwell, Oliver (1599–1658) lord protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland
  • Onslow, Richard (1527/8–1571) lawyer and speaker of the House of Commons
  • George IV (1762–1830) king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and king of Hanover
  • Brummell, George Bryan [known as Beau Brummell] (1778–1840) dandy and socialite

Musical production


Newspaper coverage of pageant

Country Life

Book of words


Other primary published materials

  • Cranford Pageant 2000. Souvenir Programme. Np, 2000.

References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Surrey History Centre, Woking: Copy of Programme. 791.6.

Sources used in preparation of pageant



When we think of pageants as early twentieth-century affairs, it is a little incongruous to read the following in a pageant programme: ‘Please switch off mobile phones and pagers and kindly refrain from using flash photography as this may startle the animals and disrupt the performance.’1 The Cranford Pageant was held to commemorate the millennium of history in the parish of Cranleigh. The name Cranford was something of a misnomer, referring to a settlement between Hounslow and the Heathrow runway. The organising committee had been formed in 1998 and managed to secure significant sponsorship from a number of local industries. As the mayor, John Shandy, remarked: ‘The pageant is a wonderful opportunity for the whole community to unite, become involved and to realise the history that is part of the development of the Cranfold area’.2 As the director, Patricia Hislop, related: ‘We looked at many different ways to mark the millennium, before settling on the idea of a pageant; it seemed a wonderful way of bringing the villages and communities of Cranford together, and giving us a unique opportunity to build relationships at all levels—people, businesses, village organisations and churches.’3

The pageant, an extremely late survival (there were relatively few other millennium pageants), was one of the last pageants organised by David Clarke, who first performed in the Pageant of Farnham in 1951 and who was production designer of the Pageant of Guildford in 1957. After this, he directed a number of other pageants.4 Clarke kept the tradition of pageantry going in Surrey long after it had largely died out in the rest of the country. Nonetheless, Clarke was on the whole pessimistic (even in the programme) concerning the decline of pageantry, as he had been for over thirty years, calling it ‘a dying art, as the number of pageants dwindle year by year in our towns and villages, the victim of changing lifestyles’.5 The 69-year-old Clarke told Country Life that he was retiring, albeit after the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.6

Country Life, which covered the pageant remarked on its indomitable strength, overcoming many of the adversities that plagued middle England at the start of the third millennium:

The People of Cranford district defied the fuel crisis and flash floods to celebrate the millennium by bringing 2000 years of local history to life…The pageant was affected by further misfortune when flash floods washed out the fourth night’s performance, as Cranleigh Showground was drenched by more than two inches of rain in a matter of hours. But, despite dwindling fuel supplies, the final two shows went ahead the next day, as planned.7

The event was a minor success, despite these adversities, attracting a commendable 2000 spectators over five performances. In the words of the Reverend Nigel Nicholson, who played his predecessor, the Reverend James Fielding, Rector of Cranleigh 1847–1906: ‘It has proved enormously rewarding…with people of all ages thrown together and getting to know one another. It has also shown what we can achieve when we work with a common aim, while at the same time learning so much about our own community down through the years.’8

The pageant was replete with the same sorts of history, some notable, most largely forgotten, which make up almost any corner of England. Whereas many of Clarke’s pageants had focused on the exploits of monarchs and dukes, Cranleigh’s Pageant was attractive in its simplicity, telling how Cranleigh had weathered two thousand years of history in reasonably good humour. Perhaps the most memorable episode for the parish was the death of King Harthacnut in 1042 at the marriage feast of Gytha to Tovi the Proud. In actual fact, the King merely collapsed at Cranleigh, dying several days later in London. As he died young, leaving no heir, the great Scandinavian empire he had consolidated was broken up, with Edward the Confessor assuming the English crown. One might speculate that had Harthacnut not overindulged at Cranleigh, the events that led to the Norman Conquest fourteen years later might not have been set in motion.9 History is littered with these what-ifs, and even destructively drunken Danish monarchs scarcely impressed upon the place. Likewise, today, the commune of Savignano sul Rubicone, the point at which Caesar crossed the Rubicon into Italy in 49BC, remains a small town quite overlooked by history.10 To quote Philip Larkin: ‘Nothing, like something, happens anywhere.’11


  1. ^ Cranford Pageant 2000, Souvenir Programme (np, 2000), unpaginated.
  2. ^ Ibid.
  3. ^ Country Life, 19 October 2000, 98.
  4. ^ ‘Obituary of David Clarke’, taken from Surrey Advertiser [no date given], accessed 22 May 2016,
  5. ^ Cranford Pageant 2000.
  6. ^ Country Life, 19 October 2000, 100.
  7. ^ Ibid., 98–100.
  8. ^ Ibid., 100.
  9. ^ M.K. Lawson, ‘Harthacnut [Hardecanute] (c.1018–1042), King of England and of Denmark’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed 22 May 2016,
  10. ^ Commune Savigano sul Rubicone, accessed 22 May 2016,
  11. ^ Philip Larkin, ‘I Remember, I Remember’, in Phillip Larkin: Collected Poems, ed. Anthony Thwaite (London, 1988), 82.

How to cite this entry

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