The Historical Pageant of Faith and Freedom

Pageant type

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Performances

Place: Scala Theatre (Camden Town) (Camden Town, Middlesex, England)

Year: 1926

Indoors/outdoors: Indoors

Number of performances: 8

Notes

28 September–6 October 1926

[Estimate based on an extra Saturday matinee performance and no Sunday performance].

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Arranged and Written by [Pageant Master]: Parry, Hugh
  • Orchestra Directed by: Emelyn Davies [Organist of Westminster Church]

Notes

Staged by the Historical Pageant Council by London Free Churches.

Names of executive committee or equivalent

n/a

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

  • Parry, Hugh

Names of composers

n/a

Numbers of performers

n/a

Financial information

Object of any funds raised

Profits to the London Congregational Union

Linked occasion

n/a

Audience information

  • Grandstand: No
  • Grandstand capacity: n/a
  • Total audience: n/a

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest

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Associated events

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Pageant outline

Prologue.

Part One. A.D. Bethlehem

Part Two. A.D. 33

Episode 1. The Church in the Grove, A.D. 160.

Episode 2. The Diet of Worms, 1521.

Episode 3. John Knox and Mary, Queen of Scots, 1566.

Episode 4. Barrow and Greenwood in the Clink, 1586.

Episode 5. The Pilgrim Press, 1588.

Episode 6. The Tinker Gospeller (John Bunyan), 1660.

Episode 7. The Trial of Richard Baxter, 1685.

Episode 8. The Ordeal by Fire, Elizabeth Gaunt, 1685.

Episode 9. Claverhouse and the Covenanters, 1685.

Episode 10. Faith and Fashion – John Wesley and Beau Nash, 1739.

Episode 11. ‘In the Name of the King’. The Revival in Wales, 1760.

Episode 12. Robert Raikes and the Rag-a-Muffins, 1781.

Episode 13. The First Missionary Ship, ‘The Duff,’ 1796.

Allegorical Finale – the Freedom of Faith.

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Knox, John (c.1514–1572) religious reformer
  • Mary [Mary Stewart] (1542–1587) queen of Scots
  • Greenwood, John (c.1560–1593) religious controversialist
  • Barrow, Henry (c.1550–1593) religious separatist
  • Bunyan, John (bap. 1628, d. 1688) author
  • Baxter, Richard (1615–1691) ejected minister and religious writer
  • Gaunt, Elizabeth (d. 1685) conspirator and convicted traitor
  • Graham, John, first viscount of Dundee [known as Bonnie Dundee] (1648?–1689) Jacobite army officer [Lord Grahame of Claverhouse]
  • Wesley [Westley], John (1703–1791) Church of England clergyman and a founder of Methodism
  • Nash, Richard [known as Beau Nash] (1674–1761) master of ceremonies and social celebrity
  • Raikes, Robert (1736–1811) promoter of Sunday schools

Musical production

Newspaper coverage of pageant

The Times

Book of words

Parry, Hugh. The Historical Pageant of Faith and Freedom. London, 1926.

Price: 1s.

Other primary published materials

n/a

References in secondary literature

n/a

Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Copy of Book of Words in the British Library

Sources used in preparation of pageant

n/a

Summary

Hugh Parry, a Welsh Congregationalist minister, wrote a number of historical pageants which told the story of the emergence and growth of forms of Nonconformist Protestantism in Britain. These included the Pageant of Nonconformity in London (1912) and the Mayflower Tercentenary Pageant, which was performed in a number of places including Plymouth and Cambridge in 1920. The script for the Pageant of Faith and Freedom was published by the Historical Pageants Council, which was devoted to Nonconformist pageants—of which there were a considerable number in the interwar period. It was staged by members of the London Free Churches, organized, according to The Times, ‘into a Guild of Pageanteers’ with profits going to the London Congregational Union.1 Parry summarised the overall objective of the pageant in the foreword to the Book of Words: ‘Throughout the ages the spirit of man has been struggling to be free… It is the aim of this Pageant to show some aspects of this tremendous struggle for liberty.’2 The content of the episodes were in agreement with this aim, telling a story of Nonconformist persecution, missionary activity and eventual achievement of freedom—or at least toleration.

Parry went on to write and stage two further pageants in London under the auspices of the Historical Pageants Council. The first of these was Light Over England (1938), which commemorated the quatercentenary of the translation of the Bible into English (and of which one reviewer for the Times wrote that ‘Even the genealogical trees of the Bible are not so dull as this’3). The second was Purple and Russet, a pageant play about the great Nonconformist hero Oliver Cromwell, which was staged in 1946.

Footnotes

  1. ^ The Times, 15 September 1926, 15.
  2. ^ Hugh Parry, ‘Foreword’, in The Historical Pageant of Faith and Freedom (London, 1926), 3.
  3. ^ The Times, 21 September 1938, 8.

How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘The Historical Pageant of Faith and Freedom’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1297/