Pageant of a Thousand Years of the Church of Barton, 669 to 1672
Place: Old Show Field, Barrow Road (Barton-Upon-Humber) (Barton-Upon-Humber, Lincolnshire, England)
Number of performances: 2
1 August 1921, afternoon and evening
Name of pageant master and other named staff
- Pageant Master: Mobbs, Miss
- Producer and Writer: William E. Varah
Miss Mobbs was headmistress of the Church of England Girls’ School
Names of executive committee or equivalent
Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)
- Varah, William E.
Varah was the Vicar of Barton-on-Humber
Names of composers
Numbers of performers100
Object of any funds raised
Proceeds were to go towards publishing W.E. Varah’s research on the parish.
- Grandstand: Not Known
- Grandstand capacity: n/a
- Total audience: n/a
Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest
First Episode. The Founding of the Church of Barton, 669
Meeting of Archbishop Theodore and King Wulfhere. Wulfhere wants a bishop and asks for Chad, offering land at Bearu. Chad is sent for from Lastingham.
Coming of Chad and his Companions. Cross erected near the Beck.
Dedication of the wooden church and mission house with the name of Saint Peter.
Second Episode. The First Stone Church at Barton, 785
Consultation between King Offa and the Archbishop of Lichfield and the Bishop of Lindsey. Chad’s Church at Barton to be rebuilt in stone in the same style as before.
Danish Raid and the flight of the people. The church is burnt out in 867.
Third Episode. Rebuilding of Barton Church
Speaking to the people of Barton, a Wessex warrior describes the Battle of Brunanburh (Burnham Hill), 953.
Barton Church to be rebuilt, incorporating the remaining part. Bishop of Lindsey and the Barton people resolve to do it in the same Frankish style as in the south.
Fourth Episode. Desolation and Restoration
Danish Fleet in the Humber. Fracna and Godwin at head of the English Army retreat without fighting. The Barton people are left to their fate and the desolation of their church, 993.
King Knut’s letter ordering the restoration of parishes and churches is received at Barton. The church is to be repaired and the tower raised by an additional story.
Fifth Episode. Church Settlement After the Norman Conquest
The King’s clerks survey the town and describe it in Doomsday Book, 1086.
Dedication of All Saints’ Chapel, c1100.
Walter de Gaunt’s charter, describing the Church of St Peter and the Chapel of All Saints and bestowing the Rectory of the Parish on Bardney Abbey, debated by the townsmen, 1115.
Sixth Episode. Founding of Vicarage and Restored Church life
Barton’s people complain of the scanty ministrations provided by Bardney Abbey. Report of Magna Charta and expectation of reform, 1215.
At Lincoln, after the Battle of Lincoln Fair, the bishops and barons, having secured the freedom of both church and state, discuss how to make it effective. One means is to place a secular priest in every parish.
Introduction of the first Vicar of Barton in old St Peter’s Church described to a crowd that is unable to obtain admission, 1218.
Richard Dinot and other Barton merchants debate the need for enlarging All Saints’ Chapel, 1240.
The Court of Reference at Frierston Priory decides that All Saints’ Church at Barton is not a parish church but a chapel of St Peter’s, 1246.
Reception of Bishop Greathead, coming for the dedication of All Saints’ as St Mary’s and announcement of Royal Charter granting fair at Trinity, 1248.
Seventh Episode. Rebuilding of S. Peter’s Quire as Great S. Peter’s Church, Transference of Barton Fair, and Addition of a New Fair in September
Edward II on his accession gave Barton Manor to Lord Beaumont; the latter discusses with the architect Philip Davey and others the building of a finer parish church, 1307.
Barton Fair held on the new feast of Corpus Christi and the re-opening of St Peter’s Church, 1312.
Eighth Episode. The Visitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Last Enlargement of S. Mary’s
Visitation of Archbishop Courtenay in St Peter’s Church, 1389.
A meeting of the vicar, chaplains, merchant venturers and guildsmen, deciding to build the Chapel of S. James the Deacon, 1400.
Ninth Episode. Prosperity and the Beautifying of the Churches
Gathering at John Lorymer’s house in Fleetgate after the wedding of John Duffeld and Elizabeth Lorymer. Discussion about erecting clerestories to make the churches lighter, 1418.
Gathering of parishioners on Beck Hill after the burial of Master Robert Saltmarsh, the Vicar, in the new St Peter’s Chancel that he had erected. Discussion about the work nearly finished, 1435.
Tenth Episode. Reformation Changes
Barton Rectory impropriated into the hands of the king, 1539.
Visit of King Henry VIII to Barton, 1541.
Discussion by townspeople about alterations in services, 1549.
Suppression of the Chantries and end of the two Chantry Schools, 1550.
The Great Pillage. Most of the church treasures are taken away by the commissioners, 1553.
Eleventh Episode. Cavaliers and Roundheads
Arrival of party bringing St Mary’s second bell after recasting at Lincoln.
Barton declares for Church and King. Attemmpt to arrest Fairfax at the Waterside.
Institution of Royalist Vicar in defiance of Roundhead prohibition, 1646.
Sequestration of the lay rectory into the hands of the Rump Parliament, 1647.
Visit of Roundhead commissioners to make an inventory of royal possessions at Barton in order to confiscate them, 1649.
Church burial of Gilbert Pepper, the vicar, notwithstanding the Roundhead prohibition, 1653.
Civil marriage of P. Courke and A. Moudie, and of T. Winshop and E. Haire, at Bardney Hall, before a Roundhead Justice, 1657.
Twelfth Episode. Restoration
Public welcome to the new Vicar, Humphrey Booth, 4 December 1662.
Meeting of Thomas Wilson, the parish priest, and representative parishioners to arrange for the final completion of the restoration of the churches, 1672.
Key historical figures mentioned
- Wulfhere (d. 675) king of the Mercians
- Theodore of Tarsus [St Theodore of Tarsus] (602–690) archbishop of Canterbury and biblical scholar
- Ceadda [St Ceadda, Chad] (d. 672?) abbot of Lastingham and bishop of Mercia and Lindsey
- Offa (d. 796) king of the Mercians
- Godwine [Godwin], earl of Wessex (d. 1053) magnate
- Gant, Gilbert de, earl of Lincoln (c.1123–1155/6) magnate
- Langton, Stephen (c.1150–1228) archbishop of Canterbury
- Wells, Hugh of (d. 1235) bishop of Lincoln
- Marshal, William (I) [called the Marshal], fourth earl of Pembroke (c.1146–1219) soldier and administrator
- Beaumont, Sir Henry de (c.1280–1340) baron
- Courtenay, William (1341/2–1396) archbishop of Canterbury
- Tyrwhitt [Tirwhit], Sir Robert (d. 1428) justice
- Henry VIII (1491–1547) king of England and Ireland
- Katherine [Catherine; née Katherine Howard] (1518x24–1542) queen of England and Ireland, fifth consort of Henry VIII
- Fairfax, Thomas, third Lord Fairfax of Cameron (1612–1671) parliamentarian army officer
Musical productionThe Salvation Army Band played.
Newspaper coverage of pageant
Hull Daily Mail
Book of words
- Varah, W.E. Pageant of a Thousand Years of the Church of Barton, 669 to 1672. Barton-on-Humber, 1921.
Other primary published materials
References in secondary literature
Archival holdings connected to pageant
- Lincolnshire Archives: Copy of book of words. Box L.Bart 791.024.
Sources used in preparation of pageant
Based on extensive primary research carried out by W.E. Varah.
A number of churches and cathedrals held pageants in celebration of key events in their history, including the Clifton Parish Church Centenary, Somerset (1922), Adel Church Octocentenary, West Yorkshire (1960) and St Wilfrid’s Centenary, West Sussex (1965).
The pageant was the brainchild of the Vicar of Barton-on-Humber, William E. Varah, whose extensive research into the parish’s history was used to write the pageant script. As the Hull Daily Mail noted, ‘the proceeds are intended to be devoted towards the cost of publication of the record he has obtained.’1 Four scenes from the extensive pageant (which must have taken many hours to perform) had been performed the previous year.2
The action of the pageant presented church and village life over a millennium, from the founding of the church of Saint Peter in Saxon times through to the restoration of the monarchy in the 1660s. The pageant displayed many key scenes from its annals, mainly concerning various visits by local magnates and bishops. However other key scenes are concerned with Magna Carta and the Battle of Lincoln Fair, a visit by Henry VIII and Katherine Howard, and the upheavals of the Civil War and interregnum in which the church had many of its lands confiscated and lost its power before the ultimate restoration in 1662 of the status quo. The Pageant of a Thousand Years of the Church of Barton contained precisely the sort of detailed information which was being elaborated up and down the country in the countless volumes of the Victoria County History (1899–), which enlisted curates, antiquaries and local historians in the project of writing a complete survey of all the parishes in individual counties.3 Unfortunately, the first county history of Lincolnshire was abandoned after the publication of the first VCH volume in 1906, and the Victoria County History website laconically remarks that ‘much work is still required in the county.’4
The pageant was evidently a success, with local residents in a part of the country that was decidedly off the beaten track (at least until the opening of the Humber Bridge in 1981) revelling in the celebration of a relatively distant part of their history. The Hull Daily Mail reported that the town was ‘en-fete’ and that the pageant, held in a natural amphitheatre in the Old Show field on Barrow Road, was ‘well attended and appeared to be thoroughly appreciated’ at both performances.5 The paper noted that the granting of the charter for the local fair was ‘particularly well represented [with] Mr Bott carrying out the impersonation with the dignity befitting the occasion’ and widely praised all who took part.6
Despite the relative success of the pageant, however, the publication of Varah’s historical researches would still be a little way off. Indeed, as it turned out, The Notable Churches of Barton on Humber: Historical and Architectural Description was not published until 1929. Varah’s son Chad (named by his father for the Saint)—born in 1911 and also a curate at St Giles, Lincoln—went on to found the Samaritans counselling phoneline in 1953.7 The stone-built St Peters Church, which was built around 971, closed a year after its millennium in 1972, with the parish church relocated to St Mary’s. It was taken over by the Department of the Environment and later English Heritage, which carried out extensive excavations and restoration. It is now open to the public as one of the finest examples of an Anglo-Saxon Church in the country.8
- Hull Daily Mail, 2 August 1921, 5.
- C.J.R. Currie, ‘Victoria County History’, History Today 49, no. 12 (12 December 1999), accessed 7 April 2016, http://www.historytoday.com/crj-currie/victoria-county-history.
- Lincoln, Victoria County History, accessed 7 April 2016, http://www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk/counties/lincolnshire.
- Hull Daily Mail, 2 August 1921, 5.
- ‘Obituary: The Reverend Chad Varah’, BBC News, accessed 7 April 2016, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3169124.stm.
- 'History of St Peter's Church', English Heritage, accessed 7 April 2016, http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/st-peters-church-barton-upon-humber/history/.
How to cite this entry
Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘Pageant of a Thousand Years of the Church of Barton, 669 to 1672’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/983/