The History of Boldre

Pageant type


Organized by Boldre Women’s Institute

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Place: Walhampton House (Boldre) (Boldre, Hampshire, England)

Year: 1922

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 2


21 June at 3pm and 22 June at 6.30pm, 1922

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Producer [Pageant Master]: Knapton, Mrs.
  • Organiser: Mrs. W. Frank Perkins
  • Treasurer: Mrs. Alexander King
  • Mistresses of the Robes: Mrs. Mole and Miss Metcalfe
  • Property Master: Mr. F.C. Shelley
  • Conductor: Mr. C.N. Frecknall
  • Father Time: Mr. W. Frank Perkins, M.P.
  • Herald: Mr. Fred Phillips

Names of executive committee or equivalent


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

Names of composers

  • Henry VIII
  • Grieg, Edvard

Numbers of performers


Financial information

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


Reserved seats 5s. (seats include admission if booked beforehand)

Unreserved 2s.4d.

Admission 1s.3d.

Associated events


Pageant outline

Episode I: The Funeral of a British Chief, 54 B.C.

Funeral procession crosses and labourers dig a grave. Messengers enter with news that the Romans have landed at Buckland. They abandon the funeral with haste

Episode II: The Making of the Roman Road at Bathamsley, 400 A.D.

Labourers are digging the road, a centurion inspects them. A Roman lady descends from the litter, the slaves serve wine and fruit, then the lady and centurion exit.

Episode III: The Slayer of the King’s Deer in the New Forest, 1087

Women and children await the arrival of the Charcoal Burner for the evening meal. He enters pursued by the King’s Verderers, having been discovered killing a deer, for which the penalty is death. He hides but is found. The women vainly plead for his life, the monks enter and intercede for the Charcoal Burner whose life is spared. The Verderers show the Monks a suitable place beyond the Boldre river to erect a small chapel. The Charcoal Burner’s family kneel in thanks.

Episode IV: The Monks of Beaulieu, being expelled from their Abbey by order of Henry VIII, beg the people to guard well the Church of Boldre, 1537

Monks tells of the Sack of Beaulieu Abbey by the King’s men and ask the people to guard against them. A scene of farewells and lamentations.

Episode V, ‘The Presentation on Midsummer’s Day to the Vicar of Boldre of a Waxen Taper and 3 shillings in consideration of a dinner for the two priests, clerks, and choristers’

Vicar enters with clerk. Lynmington churchwardens make the presentation. All exit in procession.

Episode VI, King Charles I, when in captivity, passing along the Roman Road at Bathamsley, on his way from Hurst Castle to Whitehall, 1648

‘The crowd are waiting to see the King pass by. Most are sympathetic but the Puritan exhibits a ferocious job. King and escort enter and ride by slowly. Several of the women and men fall on their knees. One woman in deep morning catches his stirrup and holds up her little child for the King’s blessing. The Puritan rudely snatches at the child, but the Cromwellian Officer silences him. The child gives the King a rose from her hand. The Procession passes on. The Crowd sorrowfully disappears. The fanatic shakes his fist at the King.’

Episode VII, The Rev. Mr. Gilpin visits the School he founded at Boldre for the education of poor children, 1704

The children are on their benches being taught. One boy is sent to stand in the Dunce’s cap. Enter Mr. and Mrs. Gilpin. All rise. Mr. Gilpin pats children’s heads and hears one child’s lesson. Children sing. Exit all.

Episode VIII, Smugglers at Boldre, 1810

The King of the thieves sits outside his dwelling smoking with the villagers. Smugglers with kegs of brandy enter and intimae that the Exciseman has been seen. They conceal the kegs. The Exciseman enters who wishes to search the premises but is persuaded to have a (drugged) Tankard of beer first. He falls asleep and the daughter and villagers return with a cart to take the brandy away. When the Exciseman awakes he searches and finds nothing. He leaves highly suspicious. All exit laughing.

Episode IX, George III accompanied by Queen Charlotte and one of the Princesses and suite, arrives at Warampton and is entertained by Sir Harry and Lady Bunard Neale, 1804.

Royal Parties arrive and there are presentations between it and ladies and gentlemen. Dancing and singing by villagers and children. All exit.

Episode X, Boldre Parish in the Great War and Ghosts of the Past, Present

Father time enters slowly and summons the Muse of History and bids her to summon a procession of the Ghosts of the Past. She unfolds her scroll to slow music as the past scenes process past bearing a banner with a date. After passing seated Father Time and Muse, each group takes up its position, to form the two horns of a crescent. Finally the characters of the Great War file past two by two carrying a banner ‘1914-1918’. Then sailors with white Ensign; Merchant Navy with red Ensign; soldiers, airmen, etc. with Union Jack, and Nurses carrying the Red Cross flag. All group and sing God Save the King.

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Charles I (1600–1649) king of England, Scotland, and Ireland
  • George III (1738–1820) king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and king of Hanover
  • Gilpin, William (1724–1804) writer on art and headmaster
  • Charlotte [Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz] (1744–1818) queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and queen of Hanover, consort of George III
  • Neale, Sir Harry Burrard, second baronet (1765–1840) naval officer and politician

Musical production

An orchestra, directed by Mr. C.N. Frecknall performed the following pieces:

  • Intro: Henry VIII, Dance no. 1
  • Episode 1: Peer Gynt no. 2
  • Ep. 2: Peer Gynt

Newspaper coverage of pageant

Book of words


A Pageant Called ‘The History of Boldre’. Lymington, 1922.

Other primary published materials


A Pageant Called ‘The History of Boldre’. Lymington, 1922.

References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Copy of pageant programme and photos held in Hampshire Archives, Winchester, Reference 16M98/30.

Sources used in preparation of pageant



The Women’s Institute (WI) was extremely active in the interwar pageant movement. Although responsible for some very large-scale pageants, such as that held in Warwick in 1930, the WI also staged a great many more local and village-level events. Held in 1922 in the village of Boldre in Hampshire, this pageant is a relatively early example of the latter. The narrative presented an account of the history of Boldre from ancient to modern times. As with many pageants, the connections between the history of the locality and that of the nation loomed large, as in the scene featuring Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. Boldre was in the New Forest, a place that had for many centuries been the hunting ground of kings and a site of conflict between crown and commoner. In medieval times, the deer of the forest were strictly preserved for royal sport, poaching being punishable by death, while in later centuries the livelihoods of the forest smallholders were threatened by acts of enclosure. Something of this tension is captured in the third episode, but in general the monarchy is viewed sympathetically – as in later scenes featuring Charles I and George III. Culminating in a patriotic celebration of sacrifices made in the Great War, the pageant seems generally to have been characterised by a conservative communitarianism, for all that the history of the place provided rich materials for a less consensual – and perhaps more accurate – account.


How to cite this entry

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