Athelstan Millenary Pageant
Information drawn from 'Survey of Historical Pageants' by Mick Wallis; with thanks to Tim Everson of the Kingston Museum and Heritage Service.
Place: Pearl Sports Ground (Kingston Upon Thames) (Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey, England)
Number of performances: 1
9 June 1924
Name of pageant master and other named staff
- Pageant Master: Finny, W.E. St Lawrence
Names of executive committee or equivalent
Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)
- Finny, W.E. St Lawrence
Names of composers
- Reid, Dr R.G.
Dr Robert Galbraith Reid seems to have been responsible for the composition and/or arrangement of the music played at the pageant
Numbers of performers
Object of any funds raised
In aid of the Kingston Nursing Association and Kingston Day Nursery.
Thousandth anniversary of coronation of King Athelstan at Kingston Upon Thames.
Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest
- Procession through the town
Key historical figures mentioned
Æthelstan [Athelstan] (893/4–939) king of England
Newspaper coverage of pageant
Local newspapers certainly covered the pageant, but it also attracted national notice (e.g. in the Westminster Gazette).
Book of words
A book of words was published; it is held by the Kingston Museum and Heritage Service.
Other primary published materials
References in secondary literature
Archival holdings connected to pageant
Kingston Museum and Heritage Service holds a range of material.
Sources used in preparation of pageant
Kingston Upon Thames is the oldest of England's four Royal Boroughs and has long had a close association with the monarchy. Indeed, no fewer than seven Anglo-Saxon kings were crowned at Kingston. One of these kings was Athelstan (893/4-939), who came to the throne after the death of his father, Edward the Elder, in 924. This pageant was held in commemoration of the thousandth anniversary of that event (although in fact Athelstan's coronation ceremony did not take place until 925).
The pageant was organised by W.E. St Lawrence Finny, a medical doctor, local historian and all-round pageant enthusiast. Finny, indeed had been responsible for the earlier Kingston Church Pageant, which he had put on during his time as Mayor of Kingston. He would go on to stage at least one other pageant in the town, again in association with the anniversary of a coronation (this being the King Edred's Coronation pageant of 1946).
The content of Athelstan Millenary Pageant seems to have focused squarely on Athelstan himself, rather than seeking to tell the longer history of the town, though underlining Kingston's long association with the monarchy was evidently central to the agenda of the organisers. The last episode featured 'King Athelstan's Court at Kingston' in 937. Although only performed on one day (9 June 1924), the pageant was evidently quite a large-scale affair: it was held outdoors in a Sports Ground, a book of words was published, and the event certainly attracted newspaper coverage. A related pageant play was also performed by pupils of the county secondary schools, details of which can be found in M.L. Kerry and P.N. Maby's Athelstan: A Pageant Play, which is held by Kingston Museum and Heritage Services. The relationship between this performance and the pageant proper is unclear.
How to cite this entry
Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘Athelstan Millenary Pageant’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1582/