Dover Castle Pageant
Place: Connaught Park (Dover) (Dover, Kent, England)
Number of performances: 1
2 May 1983
Name of pageant master and other named staff
- Organiser [Pageant Master]: McFarnell, Mike
- President: Paul Morris
- Producer of Programme: Wendy Williams
Paul Morris was President of the Dover Castle Pageant and Maritime Festival.
Names of executive committee or equivalent
Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)
Names of composers
Numbers of performers
Sealink British Ferries sponsored the pageant
Object of any funds raised
Linked occasionBicentenary of the first crossing of the English Channel by balloon by Blanchard and Jeffries.
- Grandstand: Not Known
- Grandstand capacity: n/a
- Total audience: 5000
Source: The Dover Society, accessed 15 August 2016, http://www.doversociety.org.uk/history-scrapbook/dover-pageant/1983-dover-pageant
Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest
Henry VIII Entertained on his way through Dover to the field of the Cloth of Gold 1520 by Maypole and Morris Dancers.
Charles II lands at Dover to reclaim his crown
Roaring Twenties. Flapper girls dance the Charleston to Jazz Band
Duke of York’s Royal Military Band plays and parades
Hell Fire Corner. Daylight firework display recreation of Dover under attack 1940.
Key historical figures mentioned
- Henry VIII (1491–1547) king of England and Ireland
- Charles II (1630–1685) king of England, Scotland, and Ireland
Music performed by a Jazz Band as well as the Duke of York's Royal Military School Band.
Newspaper coverage of pageant
Dover Express and East Kent News
Book of words
Other primary published materials
References in secondary literature
Website of the Dover Society
Archival holdings connected to pageant
Sources used in preparation of pageant
Dover had had a large pageant in 1908, organised by Louis Napoleon Parker. The town revived the tradition in 1983 after Michael McFarnell, a local hotelier, was given a copy of the original book of words from 1908. Evidently much impressed by Parker’s earlier example, McFarnell decided that it would be a good idea to stage a pageant to promote the rich history of Dover.The pageant had originally been intended to be held in 1982 but took a full two years to organize and was eventually held on the May Bank holiday in 1983. The pageant was opened by Mayor of Dover, Councillor Bob Tant, with the Mayor of Calais, Monsieur Jean-Jacques Barthe also in attendance. The day began with a downpour and ended with one but the sun made an appearance and the rain held off in between. Mike McFarnell announced that ‘I was very pleased with the outcome…I only wish the weather had been a bit better.’1 Despite the weather, however, the pageant was a success, attracting around 5000 visitors.2
The pageant seems to have inaugurated something of a tradition in Dover. The Dover Castle Pageant was restaged in 1985, this time attracting a larger audience (up to 9000 people, according to some reports).3 Further performances were held in 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1992, all of which followed the 1983 script. In 1994, a new pageant was devised, to a script by Noreen Thomas. This pageant was repeated in 1999, 2002, 2006 and 2008.4
- Dover Express and East Kent News, 6 May 19823, quoted in The Dover Society, accessed 15 August 2016, http://www.doversociety.org.uk/history-scrapbook/dover-pageant/1983-dover-pageant.
- The Dover Society, accessed 15 August 2016: http://www.doversociety.org.uk/history-scrapbook/dover-pageant/1985-dover-pageant
- ‘Dover Pageant’, The Dover Society, accessed 15 August 2016, http://www.doversociety.org.uk/history-scrapbook/dover-pageant
How to cite this entry
Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘Dover Castle Pageant’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1275/