A Historical Pageant Held at Westcroft Park
Organised by the Woking Group of Women’s Institutes.
Place: Westcroft Park, Chobham (Woking) (Woking, Surrey, England)
Number of performances: 1
27 June 1928
[The performance was held in the afternoon]
Name of pageant master and other named staff
- Producer [Pageant Master]: Lally, Gwen
- Music Arranged and Conducted by: Ronald
- Assisted by: Mildred Parnell
- Stage Managers: Winifred Church, Edith
Colebrooke, Violet Loring, Bertha Shaw-Mackenzie, Caroline Skidmore, Marjorie
- Dances Arranged by: Peggy O’Brien
- Wardrobe and Property Mistresses: Ethel
Atkinson, Joyce Kealy, Ethel Morgan, Dory Parry
- Principal Properties made by: R.J.
Under the patronage of HRH Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyle
Names of executive committee or equivalent
Pageant Organising Committee
- Chairman: Mrs Hemsley
- Vice-Chairman: Miss Colebrooke
- Treasurer: Mrs Bond
- Organizing Secretary: Mrs.
- Publicity Secretary: Mrs. Bernard Jones
Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)
- Atkinson, Ethel
Names of composers
- Dussek, Ronald
Numbers of performers
Object of any funds raised
Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest
Spirits of Surrey, the Surrey Hills and Rivers.
Episode I: Romans and Britons on St. George’s Hills, AD 50
Druids prepare for human sacrifice with singing and rituals but are interrupted by two Christian missionaries. The missionaries are repulsed but before the Druids can carry out the sacrifice Romans march in and release the prisoner. The Christians and Romans (some of whom are Christians) destroy the heathen altar and mark out a future camp.
Episode II. The Founding of Chertsey Abbey, AD 666.
Frithwald and entourage meets Abbot Erkenwald with his Monks, who enter singing Psalm 115. The Abbot gives his blessing, the Deed is signed and a cross planted on the spot belonging to the church. Te Deum is sung.
Episode III. Surrey Pilgrims on their Way to Canterbury, AD 1300
It is a saint’s day and the people are praying before a shrine. The priest enters singing a hymn to St Thomas. Pilgrims arrive singing ‘St Patrick’s Breastplate’ and go to the shrine. The innkeeper offers them refreshment. A hunting-party greets the pilgrims and a Bishop blesses them. One of the villagers joins their party.
Episode IV. A Court Leete and Barony, AD 1420.
The Lord proposes to hold his open-air court. Villagers bring rents and four offenders are brought forward: the first, convicted of using a fraudulent corn measure, is pilloried. The second, accused of having ‘stretched and stained’ Guildford cloth, is acquitted. The third, a drunkard, is put in the stocks and the fourth, a woman, is fitted with a scoldwife’s bridle. Rents are paid and the Lord of the Manor departs but not before his children intercede to pardon all the culprits, who are forgiven and promise to mend their ways.
Episode V. The Funeral Procession of Henry VI on its way to Chertsey, AD 1471.
The open bier is followed by Princess Anne and a small group of peasants, one of whom fought for the king. One woman holds a sick baby to the dead king, in hopes of a cure. Chertsey monks meet the procession and the Abbot blesses the corpse.
Episode VI. May Day Revels, AD 1520.
Performers dressed as Robin Hood and his merry band sing ‘Summer is a-cumen in’. There are many hi-jinks and Maypole dancing.
Episode VII. Queen Elizabeth Visits Archbishop Heath at Chobham, AD 1570.
Villagers assemble on the green and a dance is started and then interrupted by the Archbishop’s arrival. Elizabeth enters with her court and asks to witness a dance. She criticizes it, then dances a Pavane. She implores the old Archbishop to abandon his Papistry and come to court, but he refuses. She leaves.
Episode VIII. Prince Henry of Oatlands Presented to the Village, AD 1639.
The village parson has rehearsed his choir in preparation for a rendition of Herrick’s ‘Lyric to the Infant Duke of York’; they arrive to sing it. Children bring gifts for the baby Prince. Charles and gentlemen appear, before sending for the Queen with the royal children. The baby is blessed by the parson and there is dancing. [Prince Henry was actually born in 1640, not 1639 as per this episode; it is unclear why this error was made].
Episode IX. Highwaymen on Bagshot Heath, 1760.
Highwaymen watch a coach pass and then hold it up. Two ladies and the maid are handed out and the coach is searched for jewels. A beautiful young lady is unwilling to give up a locket of her mother’s portrait, and one highwayman offers to leave it with her if she will dance. They do, and the Highwaymen share wine before returning the jewels. The coach departs leaving the highwaymen emptyhanded, save for a handkerchief of the lady’s.
Episode X. Queen Victoria Re-visits her old home at Claremont, AD 1845.
The Queen and Prince Albert revisits her old home and is welcomed to an evening party with old friends. There is music and dancing.
Surrey and her hills and rivers speaks an epilogue in verse.
O God Our Help in Ages Past and God Save the King are sung.
Key historical figures mentioned
- Æthelthryth [St Æthelthryth, Etheldreda,
Audrey] (d. 679) queen in Northumbria, consort of King Ecgfrith, and abbess
- Earconwald [St Earconwald, Erkenwald]
(d. 693) abbot of Chertsey and bishop of the East Saxons
- Henry VI (1421–1471) king of England
and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine
- Elizabeth I (1533–1603) queen of
England and Ireland
- Devereux, Walter, first earl of Essex
(1539–1576) nobleman and adventurer
- Dudley, Robert, earl of Leicester
(1532/3–1588) courtier and magnate
- Ralegh, Sir Walter (1554–1618) courtier,
explorer, and author [also known as Raleigh, Sir Walter]
- Sidney, Sir Henry (1529–1586) lord
deputy of Ireland and courtier [also known as Sydney, Sir Henry]
- Charles I (1600–1649) king of
England, Scotland, and Ireland
- Henrietta Maria [Princess Henrietta
Maria of France] (1609–1669) queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland,
consort of Charles I
- Charles II (1630–1685) king of
England, Scotland, and Ireland
- Mary, princess royal (1631–1660) princess
of Orange, consort of William II
- Henry, Prince, duke of Gloucester
- James II and VII (1633–1701) king of
England, Scotland, and Ireland
- Elizabeth, Princess (1635–1650)
- Victoria (1819–1901) queen of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and empress of India
- Albert [Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and
Gotha] (1819–1861) prince consort, consort of Queen Victoria
- Edward VII (1841–1910) king of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the British dominions beyond
the seas, and emperor of India
Newspaper coverage of pageant
Book of words
- None noted
Other primary published materials
- Programme of a historical pageant held at Westcroft Park, Chobham. Woking, 1928. [Price 1s].
References in secondary literature
- Ryan, Deborah Sugg, ‘Lally, Gwen [real name Gwendolin Rosalie Lally Tollandal Speck] (1882–1963)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Entry, accessed 7 July 2016, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/59378
Archival holdings connected to pageant
- Copy of programme in Surrey History Centre, Woking. Reference 4090/1
Sources used in preparation of pageant
Staged in the grounds of Westcroft Park, and organised by the Woking Group of Women’s Institutes, this was a fairly small pageant: it was performed just once, on the afternoon of 27 June 1928. It is significant, however, as being one of the earlier pageants for which Gwen Lally acted as Pageant Master (see also Rillington (1927)). Lally, who would go on to direct such lavish spectacles as the 1938 Birmingham Pageant, cut her teeth on more modest productions such as this one. As was the case with most WI pageants, the Westcroft Park pageant was well organized. It also benefitted from the high-profile support of Princess Louise, who had been an early supporter of pageants before the First World War.1 Its content is notable for what seems to have been a successful blending of the serious with the humorous and whimsical (the scene with the highwayman being a good example of the latter), with a number of episodes moving some distance away from recorded history properly understood.
The Pageant is also significant for featuring Queen Victoria, at a time when there was technically a ban on representing the monarch (for a discussion of this see Ramsgate (1934)) and Tom Hulme's blog post for the website.
David Duff, The life story of H. R. H. Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll (London, 1949), p. 252.
How to cite this entry
Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘A Historical Pageant Held at Westcroft Park’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1452/