Sunday School Centenary Pageant

Other names

  • Great Sunday School Pageant

Pageant type


Held by Leeds Sunday School Union

Jump to Summary


Place: Town Hall (Leeds) (Leeds, Yorkshire, West Riding, England)

Year: 1917

Indoors/outdoors: Indoors

Number of performances: 2


27 and 28 November 1917 at 7pm

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Pageant Master: Mercer, Mrs
  • Organist: Mr. C. Benson
  • Musical Director: Mr. J.H. Atha

Names of executive committee or equivalent

Executive Committee

  • Chairman: Mr. G. Winterbottom
  • Treasurer: Mr. G.F. Dodgshun / Mr S.R. Dyson
  • Secretaries: Mr. Ben Warhurst, Miss B. Ormerod, Mr. W. Huby, Mr. J. Hodgson

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

Names of composers


Numbers of performers


Financial information

Object of any funds raised


Linked occasion

Centenary of the Sunday School Association.

Audience information

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

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest

2s.6d.– 6d.

Associated events


Pageant outline

Tableau 1.

Beeston Hill PM Church.

St. Alban, the martyr, who declared his faith and was beheaded.

Tableau 2.

South Parade Baptist Church

Roman Slave Market, where a Roman Priest, Gregory, resolves that Britain shall be Christianised by Missionaries.

Tableau 3.

York Road Baptist Church

Augustine preaches before King Ethelbert and his Queen Birtha.

Tableau 4.

Newton Park.

Caedmon, the herdsman, in his stable sees a vision of the Angel. Caedmon’s Song is sung.

Tableau 5.

Cademon tells his story to Abbess Hilda at Whitby

Tableau 6.

Trinity (W.L.) Congregational

The Venerable Bede, on his death-bed, dictating his translation of the Scriptures, dies immediately on completing St. John’s gospel.

Tableau 7.

Harehills Avenue P.M. Church

Alfred, the Prince, learning to read the sacred writings, taught by Queen Osburh

Tableau 8.

Alfred hiding from the Danes encounters a beggar and shares his loaf.

Tableau 9.

Blenheim Baptist Church

John Wycliffe, a Yorkshireman, sending his travelling friars with a translated English copy of the Scriptures.

Tableau 10.

Meanwood Wesleyan Church

Caxton and his early printing press.

Tableau 11. The Chained Bible

Gledhod Road Church of Christ

The English people had learned to love their Bibles, and they stood together to prevent them being burned. Heavy steel chains were used to fasten them to reading desks in the Churches.

Tableau 12. Martyrdom of Three Bishops

Latimer, an old man, Bishop of Worcester, and Ridley, Bishop of Rochester, burnt at Oxford. Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester, burnt at Gloucester.

Tableau 13.

Burley Rd.

James I summoned a council at Hampton Court to discuss differences in religious belief. So often were references made to the Scriptures, that an authorised translation resulted, which has been in use ever since.

Tableau 14.

Eldon Wesleyan Church

The farewell of the Pilgrim Fathers, Puritans who left this country for America, seeking freedom of worship, sailed in the Mayflower.

Tableau 15.

These early settlers were subject to many hardships from weather, from unfriendly Indians, and from want of food.

Tableau 16.

Harehills Baptist

William Carey, a Northamptonshire shoemaker, became the founder of the first Baptist Mission in India.

Tableau 17.

Carey was chosen first missionary and became an Oriental Scholar, translating the scriptures into Hindoo dialects.

Tableau 18.

Woodhouse Lane

Robert Morrison, a shoemaker also, went to China and adopted Chinese costume, even wearing a pigtail. He translated the Bible and Prayer book into Chinese, as well as compiling a dictionary in their language.

Tableau 19.

Kirkstall Congregational Church

Robbert Moffatt, a pioneer Missionary in South Africa, worked among the Hottentots and the Bechuanas.

Tableau 20.


Dr Livingstone, the most famous of all missionaries. ‘His enthusiasm for exploration led him to penetrate far beyond regions where tidings of him could be heard.’ He is discovered by the American newspaper proprietor Mr Stanley with the famous ‘Dr Livingstone, I presume’.

Tableau 21.

Whitehall Road UM Church

The Gloucester Printer, Robert Raikes, discovers squalid children on a Sunday morning away from Church

Tableau 22.

Raikes’s attempt to provide occupation for these children.

Tableau 23.

Brunswick Wesleyan Church

A spelling class, shewing attempts to teach children to read. So discouraging were the conditions that many teachers were paid for their services.

Tableau 24.

Queen St. Congregational Church

A white missionary shewing the medical side of his work.

Tableau 25.

Little London Wesleyan Church

A graded Sunday School. A small part of Primary School Session.

Tableau 26.

Salem Congregational Church

A junior School in session.

Tableau 27.

Harehills Avenue PM Church

Another branch of the Graded School – Scouts at work.

Tableau 28.

Boys’ and Girls’ Life Brigades demonstrating “First Aid”.

Tableau 29.

Meanwood Road

An Open-Air Sunday School in Norway

Tableau 30.

Woodhouse Carr UM Church

Brittany. A festival day known as ‘Children’s Pardon’. A Protestant Missionary, chatting with children returning from the Roman Catholic Church.

Tableau 31.

Bible Class for Girls in Spain.

Tableau 32.

Sheepscar Congregational Church

An Indian Zenana. The Missionary’s attempt to win the Children.

Final Procession of Allied Countries and Massed Tableau

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Alban [St Alban, Albanus] (d. c.303?) Christian martyr in Roman Britain
  • Augustine [St Augustine] (d. 604) missionary and archbishop of Canterbury
  • Æthelberht I (d. 616?) king of Kent [also known as Ethelbert]
  • Cædmon (fl. c.670) poet
  • Hild [St Hild, Hilda] (614–680) abbess of Strensall–Whitby
  • Bede [St Bede, Bæda, known as the Venerable Bede] (673/4–735) monk, historian, and theologian
  • Alfred [Ælfred] (848/9–899) king of the West Saxons and of the Anglo-Saxons
  • Osburh [Osburga] (fl. 839) consort of Æthelwulf, king of the West Saxons
  • Wyclif [Wycliffe], John [called Doctor Evangelicus] (d. 1384) theologian, philosopher, and religious reformer
  • Caxton, William (1415x24–1492) printer, merchant, and diplomat
  • Ridley, Nicholas (c.1502–1555) bishop of London and protestant martyr
  • Latimer, Hugh (c.1485–1555) bishop of Worcester, preacher, and protestant martyr
  • James VI and I (1566–1625) king of Scotland, England, and Ireland
  • Carey, William (1761–1834) orientalist and missionary
  • Morrison, Robert (1782–1834) missionary and Chinese scholar
  • Moffat, Robert (1795–1883) missionary in Africa and linguist
  • Livingstone, David (1813–1873) explorer and missionary
  • Stanley, Sir Henry Morton (1841–1904) explorer and journalist
  • Raikes, Robert (1736–1811) promoter of Sunday schools

Musical production

The following hymns were sung:

  • God Bless Our Native Land
  • The Call to Action
  • Glad Creation
  • Your Land and My Land
  • Nearer, My God, to Thee
  • A Message to the Nations
  • Praises of Our Sabbath School
  • Fight the Good Fight
  • Tell me the stories of Jesus
  • Forward the Life Brigade
  • The Whole Wide World For Jesus
  • Onward, Christian Soldiers
  • The Growing British Empire
  • Mine Eyes have seen the glory
The performance ended with God Save the King

Newspaper coverage of pageant

Book of words


Other primary published materials


Sunday School Centenary Pageant. Leeds, 1917. [Price 3d.]

References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Copy of programme [owned by Doris Hargraves] in Leeds Library, Local Studies Section, reference LP 782.5 LEE.

Sources used in preparation of pageant



With the outbreak of war in 1914, the Edwardian ‘pageant fever’ went into remission. Yet while large-scale pageantry was abandoned, smaller events were occasionally put on, particularly by schools or church groups. This pageant, held in Leeds to mark the centenary of the Sunday School Association, is an example of the latter. It seems to have taken the form of a series of tableaux, rather than dramatic episodes, the focus of which – as might be expected – was almost entirely religious. One interesting feature of the pageant is the emphasis it placed on missionary work in the empire. Given the wartime context, it is also notable for its avoidance of military subjects: Christian militarism was certainly a feature of British propaganda during the Great War, but does not seemed to have loomed especially large here. Leeds held a Tercentenary Pageant, performed by local schoolchildren, in 1926.


How to cite this entry

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