Andover Coronation Celebrations

Pageant type

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Place: Andover town centre (Andover) (Andover, Hampshire, England)

Year: 1953

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 1


2 June 1953 at 7.30pm

Name of pageant master and other named staff

Names of executive committee or equivalent

  • The Worshipful Mayor: Councillor Mrs. M.M. Sainsbury
  • Alderman W.J. Armstead, J.P.
  • Alderman S.R. Bell
  • Alderman R. Charlton, M.B.E., J.P. (Chairman)
  • Alderman W.J. Ponting
  • Councillor G.D. Young, B.Sc.
  • Councillor Mrs. O.H.K. Harvey

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

Andover Local History Group


All the historical information required for the Pageant was collected and prepared by the Andover Local History Group (founded 1951), which also advised on period costumes.

Names of composers


Numbers of performers


Financial information

Total expenditure was £658; total income was £37

Object of any funds raised


Linked occasion


Audience information

  • Grandstand: Not Known
  • Grandstand capacity: n/a
  • Total audience: n/a

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Associated events

  • 30 May, Young Farmers’ Club Rally and gymkana. Dance
  • 31 May, Mayors’ Service at the Parish Church
  • 1 June, Old Time Dance
  • 2 June, Bellringing, dancing and torchlight procession to lighting of bonfire
  • 6 June, Concert.

Pageant outline


Text, where available, is taken from the pageant programme.

1. Defending a Local Hill Fort

(The Independent Boys’ Club)

2. Roman Villa Scene

(Inner Wheel Club, Andover Branch)

3. The Confirmation of Olaf 994

(Friends of St. Mary’s)

4. The Abbey of Wherwell, 1002

(Andover Homemaker’s Club)

Elfida was the wife of Ethelwold, Earl of Hampshire, and on the murder of her husband by King Edgar the peacemaker… married the King. Later she was instrumental in the murder of Edgar’s son by a previous marriage… The Abbey was founded by her in c.986 as penitence, where she spent the latter part of her life and was buried.

5. The Burning of Andover, 1141

(Army Cadets)

During the Civil War of Stephen’s reign Andover was burnt, and confused fighting also took place at Wherwell and Stockbridge.

6. The Andover Woollen Industry

(Messrs. Plummer Roddis Ltd.)

In this Tableau can be seen typical dress and the methods employed in producing woollen materials in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries in Andover. The three centuries are separately shown on the vehicle, which has, as its figurehead, Bishop Bishop Blaize (or St. Blasius), who was tortured to death by wool-combers irons in the year 316, was martyred and became the patron saint of the Woollen Industry. Following the mounted tableaux are two Hampshire shepherds, typical of the relevant period, with sheep, which once abounded on the hills of Andover and district.

7. “Pie Powder” Court at weyhill Fair

(Andover Grammar School)

The Tableau is a reconstruction of a scene at the famous Weyhill Fair. It shows the Bailiff of Andover presiding over the Pie Powder Court, the punishment of an offender and something of the hustle and bustle of the Fair.

8. Catherine of Aragon at the Angel Inn, 1501

(Andover St. John Ambulance Brigade)

The Tableau authentically depicts Catherine of Aragon (journeying from Plymouth to London to marry Prince Arthur ‘but instead she became one of the line of six who went to the altar with Henry VIII’) partaking of a meal with two of her Ladies-in-Waiting at the Angel Inn, and being served by two of the Inn’s maid-servants. The dresses are accurate models of those worn at the time.

9. ‘Archery Practice on the Acre’ 1523

(Junior Members of the Andover Ballet Club)

The Common Acre has long been the playground of the town, and it is quite probably that some of the 31 archers and 79 billmen from the Out-hundred practiced and assembled on the Acre before leaving for Henry VIII’s French War in 1523.

10. The Execution of John Body, 25th November, 1583

(Andover Community Association Drama Group)

After being tried at Winchester for heresy and treason John Body was brought to Andover for execution. Hampshire at this time was a stronghold of recusancy, and there were, no doubt, people in Andover who might be intimidated by his terrible death. In his dying declaration, he said ‘I suffer death because I deny the Queen to be the supreme head of the Church of God in England. I never committed any other treason unless they will have hearing Mass or saying “Hail Mary” to be treason.’

11. The Old Grammar School

(Andover Grammar School)

The Tableau depicts the School in session, during the later times of Elizabeth or early times of James I. The scene represents the Schoolroom with the Master presiding at one end and the Usher (Hypodidascalus) at the other.’

12. The Founding of Andover, Massachusetts, 6th March, 1646

(Business and Professional Women’s Club)

Many of the original Settlers who founded the American town of Andover, Massachusetts, were emigrants from this town of Andover, Hants. In the Tableau you see their spokesman handing the ‘Barter Gift’ of £6 and a blue coat to the Indian Chief, who points to the land now belonging to the Settlers. Above are Britannia and Uncle Sam surveying the scene.

13. The New Street Barn Incident, August, 1676

Religious persecution in the 17th century! It was then illegal for more than five Dissenters to meet together for worship. This scene is a meeting of Andover Dissenters in a New Street Barn. Train bands seize the ministers and drag them to prison.

14. James II at the Angel Inn, 25 November, 1688

(Messrs. Macklins of Andover, Ltd.)

This tableau depicts King James II during his retreat from Salisbury to where he had advanced to meet the invading William of Orange, in whose favour he later abdicated by flight. The King’s coach, bearing himself, Prince George of Denmark and the Duke of Ormonde, is seen just entering under the Angel archway. The Innkeeper and his wife are seen greeting him just outside. The coming of James II to Andover is of singular importance, as the events here were among the few which have taken place in Andover to have had an effect on the future course of history. At the meal James took at the Angel, Prince and Duke decided to leave him, after doing their best to persuade the stubborn monarch that his cause was lost.

15. Visit of John Wesley to Andover, 7th November, 1760

(Andover Wesley Guild)

The scene is the occasion of John Wesley’s visit to Andover to preach ‘to a few dead stones’ in November, 1760. No record of where he actually preached now exists, but the scene depicted is that of the Market Place, with the old market pillar in the background.

16. Selling a Wife by Auction

(Charlton Youth Club)

This depicted one of the ‘wife sales’ of the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. Such a sale is said to have taken place at Weyhill Fair during the first third of the 19th century. Thomas Hardy has woven an account of such an auction – possibly this one, into his novel The Mayor of Casterbridge. Here the wife changed hands for 5 guineas – but other records of such sales show that this must have been a comparatively high figure!

17. Riots at the Iron Foundry, November 1830

(Messrs. Taskers of Andover (1932) Ltd.)

The Tableau depicts Robert Tasker, the owner of the Foundry, arguing with the mob, endeavouring to persuade them, with an offer of £100, to refrain from smashing his machinery and stock.

18. Prize Fighting at Andover [1832]

(Andover British Legion)

The scene depicted is the contest between Owen Smith and Anthony Noon in 1832. The fight had fatal consequences for Noon…This contest…was one which took place at the rear of the Queen Charlotte Inn, in 1832, between Smith and Noon. Smith so punished Noon in the ring that the latter died that evening at the Lower Angel (now the Forester’s Arms). Smith was tried for manslaughter at Winchester Assizes, but before the trial dyed his face with walnut juice. No one was able to identify him, so he was acquitted.

19. The Building of the New Church, 1840-6

(The Friends of St. Mary’s)

The tableau depicts Dr W.S. Goddard, donor to the Church, the Rev. C.H. Ridding, Vicar of Andover, Mrs. Goddard, and her niece, Miss Gale, together with the architect of the present modified Church, Mr. Sydney Smirke, looking at a model of the Church.

20. The Andover Workhouse Scandal 1846

Tableau No. 1 by Girl Guides and Boys’ Brigade

This scene depicts the juvenile inmates of the Andover Workhouse in the early nineteenth century, receiving their daily ration of milk and break. Owing to the starvation level of diet, some are endeavouring to extract the marrow from stale bones destined to be crushed into fertilizer – some eating raw potatoes they obtained by raiding the Workhouse garden.

Tableau No. 2 by the Boys’ Brigade

This illustrates the appalling punishment of ‘bone crushing’ meted out to small male paupers, under the tyrannical supervision of the Workhouse Master’s dastardly son, who, without any compunction or remorse, would administer them spiteful stripes on the head.

Tableau No. 3 by Girl Guides and Boys’ Brigades.

This concerns Hannah Joyce, whom the workhouse masters accused of child murder, and, even after the Coroner’s jury had found her not guilty, subjugated her to extreme cruelties. In the first instance they made her sleep in the room used as a morgue, and after the child was put in a coffin they forced her to carry it through the town in the early evening to St. Mary’s Church. The following day the inmates were instructed to follow her out of the Workhouse, making every possible noise with kitchen utensils; this was called a ‘skimmington’. The Board of Guardians were sitting at the time, and some went to the window to witness this shameful scene, but no effort was made to stop it.

21. The Andover Soup Kitchens, 1895

(Messrs. Macklins’ of Andover Ltd.)

Many of the old Andoverians will remember these soup kitchens which were situated on the site of Messrs. Macklins’ of Andover Ltd. All classes of persons obtained this soup – the poorer persons to supplement their mid-day meal, and the more fortunate to heat up for the evening meal.

22. The Royal Flying Corps Come to Andover, 1916

(Royal Air Forces Association, Andover Branch)

A model of a D.H.9 aircraft, with which no. 104 Squadron, R.F.C., was armed.

23. Inspection of Local Scouts by Lt.-Gen. Sir Robert Baden-Powell, 27 April 1916

(1st Andover Air Scouts)

The Tableau shows the arrival of Sir Robert and Lady Baden-Powell, with B.-P. descending from a carriage. Scouts and Cubs at attention, with a group of spectators behind. The Scoutmaster in front of the Troop, with a little girl ready too present a bouquet to Lady Baden-Powell.

24. ‘Andover Fire Service Through the Ages’

(Past and Present Members of Andover Fire Brigade)

Andover has on several occasions been almost completely destroyed by fire - but fortunately for several centuries there have been men willing to risk injury and death to fight fires, often caused by carelessness.

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Ælfthryth (d. 999x1001) queen of England, consort of King Edgar [also known as Elfrida]
  • Katherine [Catalina, Catherine, Katherine of Aragon] (1485–1536) queen of England, first consort of Henry VIII
  • James II and VII (1633–1701) king of England, Scotland, and Ireland
  • George, prince of Denmark and duke of Cumberland (1653–1708) consort of Queen Anne [also known as George, Prince]
  • Wesley [Westley], John (1703–1791) Church of England clergyman and a founder of Methodism
  • Powell, Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-, first Baron Baden-Powell (1857–1941) army officer and founder of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides

Musical production


Newspaper coverage of pageant

Book of words


Other primary published materials

Andover Coronation Celebrations, 1953. Andover, 1953. [Price 2s]

Other primary published materials


References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Film of the Pageant
  • Copy of Programme, correspondence and financial statements: Hampshire Record Office, Winchester, 37M85/5/SE/11

Sources used in preparation of pageant



The 1953 Coronation was an important occasion for historical pageantry in the 1950s. This was one of many relatively small-scale pageants staged across the UK at this time. As is clear from film footage, it took the form of a series of tableaux, rather than an elaborate dramatization with dialogue. The pageant was one of a series of events staged in Andover to mark the coronation, the celebrations including dances, processions, bellringing and a concert. Some of these associated events (though not the pageant) were re-staged for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on 27 May 2012.1d


  1. ^ ‘Andover’s Diamond Jubilee Plaque dedication on 27 May’, Daily Echo, 10 May 2012: (accessed 4 May 2016).

How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘Andover Coronation Celebrations’, The Redress of the Past,