Derbyshire Coronation Pageant

Pageant type

Jump to Summary


Place: Chatsworth House (Bakewell) (Bakewell, Derbyshire, England)

Year: 1953

Indoors/outdoors: Indoors

Number of performances: 7


18-24 July 1953


Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Pageant Director [Pageant Master]: Leak, H. Talbot
  • Organising Secretary: David C. Brooke-Taylor
  • Property Master: Capt. L.H. Morgan
  • Director of Music: L.A. Officer, B.Mus
  • Wardrobe Mistress: Eileen Redfern
  • Costume Design: John E. Nicholson
  • Heraldry: G.W. Vardy
  • Programme and Poster Design: B. Christie Furber
  • Script Editor: Crichton Porteous
  • Décor: L. du Garde Peach
  • Stage Manager: G. Raymond Williams
  • Assistant Stage Managers: A.G. Bennett and Eric Beeley
  • Electrician: K. Platts
  • Ground Manager and Master of Horse: Stan C. Ashby
  • Miracle Play produced by: Mary Shepard
  • Sound: Anthony Williams, James Tory, Ian Douglas

Names of executive committee or equivalent


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

Shakespeare, William

Names of composers



Numbers of performers

400 - 500

Plus 100 horses.

Financial information

Object of any funds raised

British Red Cross (Derbyshire Branch) and the Soldiers’ Sailors’ and Airmens’ Families Association.

Linked occasion

Audience information

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

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Associated events


Pageant outline

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Henry V (1386–1422) king of England and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine
  • Humphrey [Humfrey or Humphrey of Lancaster], duke of Gloucester [called Good Duke Humphrey] (1390–1447) prince, soldier, and literary patron
  • John [John of Lancaster], duke of Bedford (1389–1435) regent of France and prince
  • Beaufort, Thomas, duke of Exeter (1377?–1426) magnate and soldier
  • Neville, Ralph, first earl of Westmorland (c.1364–1425) magnate [ earl of Westmoreland]
  • Charles VI (1368-1422) king of France

Musical production

Buxton Opera Group, Shuttlewood Adult Choir, Chesterfield Operatiuc Society, Chesterfield Carolare Choir, Holymoorside Creative Guild Choir, Derby Choral Union, Victoria Street Congregational, Alfreton Male Voice Choir.

Newspaper coverage of pageant

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer

Book of words


Other primary published materials


Derbyshire Coronation Pageant – King Henry V, Souvenir Programme, 1953. Buxton, 1953.

References in secondary literature

  • Freeman, Mark. ‘“Splendid Display; Pompous Spectacle”: Historical Pageants in Twentieth-Century Britain’. Social History 38 (2013): 423-55. At 454 n.

Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Copy of the programme in Sheffield Local Studies Library, reference MP 2237 M 1953.

Sources used in preparation of pageant



Excerpts from Shakespeare’s history plays were a very common feature of historical pageantry, one example being the Southampton Quincentenary Pageant of 1947, which began with the trial scene from Act II of Henry V.1 This might seem odd, since today we might think of these plays as offering a fictionalised interpretation of history. But it is worth pointing out that Shakespeare’s history plays had for centuries acted as an important channel of communication of ideas about the past – and indeed were consumed as a truthful rendering of history by their audiences.2 So in a sense twentieth-century historical pageant movement was an extension of this tradition, paying homage to the hold that Shakespeare still exerted on contemporary engagement with the past. The Derbyshire Coronation Pageant went one further than many pageants in that it was entirely composed of excerpts from Shakespeare – Henry V again – with the addition of a miracle play. Its programme trumpeted ‘the county-wide effort … made to present a Shakesperian play in pageant form’. It also made clear the organisers’ view that such a choice of play was peculiarly well-suited for the event the pageant celebrated, being ‘so appropriate for a national occasion such as the Coronation of yet another in the long line of illustrious sovereigns’.3 In mid-twentieth century England, the combination of Shakespeare with the pageant form proved an effective vehicle for the mobilisation of monarchical patriotism.


  1. ^ Programme of the Charter Commemorations Celebrating the Occasion of the Quincentenary of the County Town of Southampton (Southampton, 1947).
  2. ^ Dominique Goy-Blanquet, Shakespeare’s Early History Plays (Oxford, 2003).
  3. ^ Derbyshire Coronation Pageant – King Henry V, Souvenir Programme, 1953 (Buxton, 1953), n.p.

How to cite this entry

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