Great War Pageant 1917

Pageant type


Information drawn from 'Survey of Historical Pageants' by Mick Wallis; with thanks to Tim Everson of the Kingston Museum and Heritage Service.

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Place: Market Place and Fairfield (Kingston Upon Thames) (Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey, England)

Year: 1917

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 1


19 June 1917

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


Numbers of performers


Financial information


Object of any funds raised

The funds raised by the pageant went to a number of causes, including the East Surrey Regiment and local hospitals.

Linked occasion


Audience information

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Associated events

  • Great War Market

Pageant outline

Key historical figures mentioned


Musical production


Newspaper coverage of pageant

The pageant received coverage in the local press.

Book of words


A book of words was published but one has yet to be located.

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



With the outbreak of the First World War, the 'Pageant Fever' that had been coursing through the veins of Edwardian England went into remission. Very large pageants on the scale of Louis Napoleon Parker's spectacular shows at YorkDover and elsewhere were not staged until the coming of peace. But historical pageantry did not disappear entirely. Indeed, some events were held as a means of raising funds (and morale) in support of the war effort, and the Great War pageant held at Kingston in 1917 is one such example. 

The pageant was organised by W.E. St Lawrence Finny, a prominent local figure (he served as mayor on no fewer than six separate occasions between 1898 and 1926). The pageant seems to have dealt with medieval and early modern history,  the Elizabethan age being the latest time period covered. It appears to have been significantly processional in form, while still retaining dramatic elements. The performers processed through the town, stopping at various places where historical scenes were enacted. Dialogue was involved, and a book of words was published (though surviving copies have proved elusive). A 'Great War Market' was held in association with the pageant, with funds raised going to a range of causes, including the East Surrey Regiment and local hospitals. 


How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘Great War Pageant 1917’, The Redress of the Past,