Kingston Church Pageant

Pageant type

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Place: Grange School, Kingston Hill (Kingston Upon Thames) (Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey, England)

Year: 1921

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 2


16 May 1921 at 2.30pm and 6pm

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Pageant Master: Finny, W.E. St Lawrence
  • Master of Music: A. Percy Alderson
  • Conductor: Ronald Walter Dussek
  • Mistress of the Dance: Mrs. Barnes
  • Master of Ceremonies: Walter A. Warne
  • Mistress of the Robes: Mrs Kemp Prosser
  • Editor: J.A. Drewett
  • Master of the Revels: H.E. Howard
  • Art Master: A.J. Collister
  • Folk Dance Instructor: Miss Faram
  • Costume Supervisor: A.R.F. Hyslop
  • Colour Scheme Adviser: H. Kemp Prosser
  • Director of Publicity: Samuel Emms
  • Hon. Treasurer: J. Napoleon Wyeth
  • Secretary: Major Leonard Williams
  • Assistant Secretary: Mrs Frederick Fletcher

Names of executive committee or equivalent


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

  • Finny, W.E. St Lawrence

Names of composers

  • Dussek, Ronald
  • Alderson, Percy
  • Huntley, G.F.
  • German, Edward
  • Parry, Hubert

Numbers of performers

Financial information

Donations, including £10.10s. from the Mayor: £25. 3s. 0d.
Children’s Rehearsal: £14. 5s. 10d.
First Performance: £159. 3s. 7d.
Second Performance: £83. 12s. 6d. (£257. 1s. 11d. total)
Receipts from Shows: £130. 19s. 8d.
Allotments: £1. 7s. 3½d.
Book of Words: £45. 13s. 1½d.
Material for Costumes: £11. 2s. 5d.
Picture House Film: £5. 5s.
Press Photography, etc.: £2. 17s. 0d.

Total Receipts: £479. 9s. 5d.

Music: £48. 14s. 9d.
Chair and Gallery Hire: £13. 15s.
Tent Hire: £6. 1s. 6d.
Police: £1. 14s. 0d.
Programmes and Book of Words: £57. 18s. 0d.
Advertising on Newspapers and Tram: £6. 5s. 6d.
Stationery: £1. 6s.
Postages: £4. 4s. 5d.
Hire of Properties and Costumes: £3. 0s. 0d.
Football Match: £21. 9s. 9d.
Sundry Properties: £1. 8s. 0d.
Costume Materials: £10. 15s. 1d.
Art Materials: £2. 4s. 6d.
Refreshment Deficit: £1. 10s. 9d.
Entertainment Stamps (with £19. 4s. 4d. Refund): £68

Total Expenditure: £248. 12s. 3d.

Profit to All Saints Church Restoration Fund: £230. 17s. 2d.

Object of any funds raised

All Saints Church Restoration Fund

Linked occasion


Audience information

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

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest

10s. 6d.–2s. 4d.

Associated events

Other events included:

  • Grand Historical Procession.
  • Old English Dances and Contests.
  • Boxing and Wrestling Match.
  • A Prehistoric Football Match: Ye Kynggestonians v. Ye Dwellers in Hamme.

Pageant outline

Episode I. Britons and Druidical Worship at Kingston

British harvesters, bringing their first-fruits to the altar of the Sun God, meet the Druids who are about to sacrifice a maiden on the altar. A dispute arises, during which time armed Saxons approach and capture the Britons.

Episode II. Great Ecclesiastical Council at Kingston, AD 838

Saxon townspeople are tossing a pancake; they discuss the origin of the custom, and the approaching Council of Church and State. Athelwulf enters with the head of the Danish King on a spear. The king, nobles, archbishop and clergy enter and make a compact over the sacred stone. The crowd wishes to kick the Dane’s head round the town, but the king substitutes a football and establishes the old Kingston custom.

Episode III. Coronation of Edwy at Kingston, AD 955

The dowager queen and Dunstan discuss the king’s approaching marriage and coronation. Edwy and Elgiva arrange a secret marriage, and Odo crowns Edwy. During the feast the king slips away and is secretly married by the coronation stone. Dunstan and Gunhilda arrive, and a dispute arises. The king is dragged back to the banquet and is threatened by the Saxons. All go off quarrelling.

Episode IV. Gift of Kingston Church to Merton Priory, AD 1121

Peter the Piper is dancing with the Kingston Orphans. A boy thief condemned to have his eyes put out is sheltered from the sergeant by the orphans. He is saved by the bishop and pardoned by King Henry, who gives Kingston Church to Merton.

Episode V. King John Grants a Charter to Kingston, AD 1208

The bailiffs and townsmen assemble to meet the king. The Abbot of Canterbury, who has been condemned, meets his former jester who offers his help. King John arrives and grants a charter to Kingston; he is cruel and exacting but conciliated by the jester. He receives an urgent message and departs to fight.

Episode VI. John Lovekyn’s Day of Concord at Kingston, AD 1356

[This episode was not performed due to time constraints.]

Episode VII. Founding of Holy Trinity Guild, Kingston, AD 1477

Canterbury Pilgrims come to Kingston to see the Easter Sepulchre and Chapel of the Guild, recently founded by Robert Bardsey. Arrangements are made for his burial in the founders’ tomb.

Episode VIII. Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon at Kingston, AD 1520

Fair Day at Kingston. King Henry VIII and the queen and courtiers arrive at Kingston. The Spanish soothsayer, to amuse them, calls up the bygone ages. All the previous episodes re-appear in a final tableau.

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Ecgberht [Egbert] (d. 839) king of the West Saxons
  • Æthelwulf (d. 858) king of the West Saxons
  • Eadwig [Edwy] (c.940–959) king of England
  • Ælfgifu [Ælfgifu of Northampton] (fl. 1006–1036) first consort of King Cnut [also known as Elgivaof Northampton]
  • Odo, earl of Kent (d. 1097) bishop of Bayeux and magnate
  • Dunstan
  • Henry I (1068/9–1135) king of England and lord of Normand
  • Matilda [Matilda of Flanders] (d. 1083) queen of England, consort of William I
  • Giffard, William (d. 1129) bishop of Winchester
  • John (1167–1216) king of England, and lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and of Aquitaine, and count of Anjou
  • Isabella [Isabella of France] (1295–1358) queen of England, consort of Edward II
  • Edward [Edward of Woodstock; known as the Black Prince] prince of Wales and of Aquitaine (1330–1376) heir to the English throne and military commander [also known as Edward the Black Prince]
  • Henry VIII (1491–1547) king of England and Ireland
  • Katherine [Catalina, Catherine, Katherine of Aragon] (1485–1536) queen of England, first consort of Henry VIII
  • Wolsey, Thomas (1470/71–1530) royal minister, archbishop of York, and cardinal

Musical production

Music performed by a nine-piece orchestra conducted by the composer Ronald Dussek included:
  • Overture. ‘Sumer Is I-Cumen In’, arr. Dussek.
  • A.P. Alderson. ‘Harvest Song’ (Episode I). 
  • G.F. Huntley. ‘Druids’ Song’ (Episode II). 
  • Alderson. ‘Gleeman’s Song’ and ‘Rough Dance’ (Episode III). 
  • Ronald Dussek. ‘Kingston Orphan’s Song’ and ‘Peter-the-Piper’s Tune’ (Episode IV). 
  • Alderson. ‘March’ (Episode V).
  • Edward German. ‘Merrymakers’ Dance’ (Episode V). 
  • Hubert Parry. ‘Jerusalem’ (Episode VIII). 

Newspaper coverage of pageant

The Times

Book of words

Book of Words and Music, Kingston Church Pageant. Kingston upon Thames, 1921.

Price: 1s. 6d.

Other primary published materials

  • Who’s Who in the Pageant? Kingston upon Thames, 1921.

Price: 6d.

References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Surrey History Centre, Woking: Book of Words and statement of accounts. 4087/1/14 and 3148/8/1.

Sources used in preparation of pageant



The author of the Kingston Pageant, W.E. St Lawrence Finny, went even further than the great Pageant Master, Louis Napoleon Parker, who famously avoided the Civil War so as not to offend political sympathies. Finny noted that: ‘In reproducing incidents in the history of the Church and of the town in pageant form, the writer has been careful to deal only with events of pre-Reformation date, which occurred before differences of religious opinion and divisions appeared…so that everyone may be able to join in producing a pageant, the historical interest of which is common to all.’1 As Finny was in fact the Mayor of Kingston, one might conjecture that he was unwilling to alienate non-Anglican Kingstonians.

The pageant focused on the long and generally fruitful relationship between the church and the crown, stressing the gifts to the church of good sovereigns (Henry I), the oppression during the reign of weak kings (Edwy) and the machinations of bad kings (John). Surprisingly for a pageant, Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon are presented at a happy moment.

The Times newspaper was particularly appreciative of the pageant. Under the headline ‘Motors Held up by Druids’, it related how ‘thousands of motor vehicles…on their way to the races at Hurst Park’, representing ‘all classes’ of people and ‘every type’ of motor vehicle, were pressed into service because trains were not running due to the coal stoppage.2 The strikes, seen as a prelude to the General Strike of 1926, were in protest against government failures to honour their promise of a ‘land fit for heroes’ and the determination of employers to cut wages. While the coal miners and seamen went on strike, the National Transport Workers Federation and National Union of Railwaymen refused to do so, thus reducing the strikes’ efficacy and leading to their subsequent collapse.3 In all probability, however, the effects of the strike around London were likely to have been far less than reported by the Times.

The stream of motorists was held up by a policeman to allow a long procession of ‘men, women, and children in ancient costumes of the most varied forms and the most brilliant colours. There were kings and queens in crowns and robes, bishops, mitred and vested, nuns and monks in their habits, knights in armour, jesters and merry-andrews in motley, matrons and yeomen…and, going back further still, white-robed druids and ancient Britons clad in skins and carrying clubs.’4 This was the opening procession to the Richmond Road Sports Ground which began the Kingston Church Pageant. Its object was to renovate the church and particularly the chapel of the Holy Trinity, the memorial to the East Surrey Regiment.5 The Times reported: ‘The pageant was a complete success, financially as well as pictorially. It is the wish and hope of the people of Kingston that their renovated parish church may become a cathedral, as the seat of a new bishopric in the contemplated changes in the dioceses of Winchester and Southwark.’6 The chapel was renovated during 1920–1921 with funds that included £230 raised by the pageant. However, when the Diocese of Winchester was reorganised in 1927, the Church of the Holy Trinity in Guildford was chosen as the seat of a new cathedral.7

By contrast with many pageants in the immediate post–First World War era, the Kingston Church Pageant avoided mentioning the suffering of the war (or indeed modernity) at all; holding up, and ignoring altogether, the traffic that symbolised twentieth-century society.


  1. ^ W.E. St Lawrence Finny, ‘Foreword’, in Book of Words and Music, Kingston Church Pageant (Kingston upon Thames, 1921), 6. See Ayako Yoshino, Pageant Fever: Local History and Consumerism in Edwardian England (Tokyo, 2011), 145-147.
  2. ^ The Times, 17 May 1921, 6.
  3. ^ Patrick Renshaw, ‘Black Friday, 1921’, History Today 21, no.6 (June 1971), accessed 23 May 2016,
  4. ^ The Times, 17 May 1921, 6.
  5. ^ Ibid.
  6. ^ Ibid.
  7. ^ London Gazette, 26 April 1927.

How to cite this entry

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