Two exhibitions in 2019-2021
1. St Albans Museum, 15 November 2019 - 23 February 2020
Three times in the twentieth century St Albans caught ‘pageant fever’. In 1907, 1948 and again in 1953, the people of the city came together to perform episodes from its rich history. This exhibition told the story of the St Albans pageants with objects, voices, pictures and film. It shows how the pageants were organised, and what they did with local and national history – and considers what they meant to the people of St Albans, then and now. For further details, see the St Albans Museums website.
2. Cecil Sharp House, London, from 29 January 2020 to April 2021
Historical pageants presented the history of communities through a series of scenes featuring notable people and events from local history, myth and legend. They had a significant cultural impact, and often showcased the folk arts, including dance and song. This exhibition tells that story in images and text. For further details, see the Cecil Sharp House website.
From the very beginning of this project, we have sought to bring the story, colour and spectacle of historical pageants to as many people as possible. As well as presenting lots of talks and hosting other events, we have worked in conjunction with our Project Partners to produce major exhibitions on historical pageants:
(1) Pageants and the People: Bury St Edmunds and Magna Carta, Moyse Hall, Bury St Edmunds (May-Aug 2015)
(2) The Carlisle Historical Pageants: A story of community, performance and identity, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle (Aug-Oct 2015)
(3) Scarborough Historical Pageant, Scarborough Art Gallery (Sep-Oct 2016) and, due to popular demand, Scarborough Library (Oct-Nov 2016)
(4) Pageant Fever! St Albans Performs its Past, St Albans Museum + Gallery, 15 November 2019 - 23 February 2020.
(5) Pageant Fever! Historical Pageants and the British Past, Cecil Sharp House, London, from 29 January - April 2020.
Each of these exhibitions proved a real success, and we were honoured to get to meet a number of those who had actually performed in some of the pageants that the exhibitions explored, many of whom we recorded oral history interviews with about their memories and experiences. We were also able to feature lots of photographs and postcards, original costumes and props used in the pageants, and many wonderful souvenirs, commemorative objects, and even original film footage, which, in the case of Carlisle 1928, had lain undiscovered until preparations for our exhibition began (our thanks go to the North West Film Archive for their assistance in digitising this for use in the exhibition!)
You can read more about each of the individual exhibitions following the links below, and can even listen to some of the pageant performers and organisers recalling some of their memories and experiences, including some very amusing anecdotes and even a spooky ghost story. You can also view many photographs of the pageants alongside images of some of the amazing costumes, souvenirs and other objects that we were able to feature.
Using these links, you can enjoy exploring our exhibitions even if you did not get to visit in person.
In this section
- Pageants and the People: Bury St Edmunds and Magna Carta
- The Carlisle Historical Pageants: A story of community, performance and identity
- Scarborough Historical Pageant
- Pageant Fever! St Albans Performs its Past
- Historical Pageants Day, 20 February 2021
- Pageants and Folk Arts: An Exhibition at Cecil Sharp House