A Pageant of Ecclesfield

Pageant type

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Place: Ecclesfield Rectory Gardens (Ecclesfield) (Ecclesfield, Yorkshire, West Riding, England)

Year: 1949

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 1


2 July 1949

The performance took place in the afternoon

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Pageant Master: Penfold, Rev. Murray
  • Pageant Master: Penfold, Mrs Murray


This was a husband-and-wife team.

Names of executive committee or equivalent


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

Names of composers


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

The pageant was performed at the annual church garden party.

Associated events


Pageant outline

Part I.

Scene 1. The Vision [Present Day]

Two children are talking about the church, remarking they don’t know who built it. The spirit of Ecclesfield (the narrator) appears to tell them about it.

Scene 2. How the Gospel was brought to Ecclesfield

‘Long years ago when the people of our land were little better than savages, Missionaries came to tell them about God and to teach them to love Jesus Christ. These missionaries travelled far and wide, and there was one called Aidan, who visited these parts…At first the people would not listen – they shouted, they booed, but gradually he gained their confidence and was able to tell them the Good News he had brought.’

Scene 3. Building God’s House

‘Many years passed by and those who first listened to St. Aidan in their turn, preached, until there was a little community who were Christians. They had no building in which to worship God…Finally it was decided that they should build a place which would be God’s House.’

Scene 4. A Gift to a Prior of St. Wandrille’s Abbey

‘The Church the early Christians built was used for many years, until, in Norman times, an even more beautiful Church was raised to God’s Glory. In the meantime a Norman overlord had been given this land by the King as a reward for his services, and one of his descendants, Richard de Lovetot, who was a God-fearing man, gave part of his possessions to the Abbey of St. Wandrille in Normandy. The Abbot sent over a Prior and some monks to receive the gift and to care for the spiritual well-being of the people. These Monks lived in the Priory, part of which still stands.’

Scene 5. Matilda de Lovetot’s Declaration, 1235

The Lord Abbot of Ecclesfield had the right to nominate a priest to care for the Church and to live in the Manor House, and he was styled ‘parson’. During the 13th century the family of de Ecclesfield claimed both the right to elect the parson and the hereditary right of the landed estate. The monks disputed this claim, and in 1235 Matilda de Lovetot was called upon to sign deeds acknowledging that the patronage of the church belonged to the monks from the time of her ancestors.

Scene 6. Institution of Robert de Bosco, 1310

The monks had neglected to take due care of the spiritual welfare of the vast parish, and it came to the knowledge of the Archbishop that there was no regular ministry in the church. A perpetual vicar was appointed with a vicarage and two chaplains, to be paid for by the Monks and to assist the Vicar. From this time, the monastery and the Church became largely separate. The narrator also tells of Richard II’s confiscation of the priory in 1381, giving it to the Carthusian Convent of St Anne of Coventry, and the dissolution of the monastery in 1539, which went into the hands of the Talbots, Earls of Shrewsbury.

Scene 7. The Windows of the Church, 1502-1895

The narrator explains the provenance of a number of windows in the church.

Part 2.

Scene 8. A Story of Mary, Queen of Scots

Enter Mary Queen of Scots with attendants. A messenger arrives with news and they all depart hastily. The narrator tells a story of Mary taking refuge in the priory, but with Elizabeth’s men in hot pursuit. She was warned by a messenger and managed to escape.

Scene 9. Old Carr of Butterthwaite Hall

The narrator introduces Richard Carr, who lived at Butterthwaite Hall. Carr was an eccentric, who made prophecies about the town and England. The narrator recalls that he correctly predicted the English Civil War and the battle of Tankersley Moor, lost by Hallamshire men.

Scene 10. Ecclesfield Parish Volunteer Infantry – 1804

‘In consequence of the Whig Ministry’s interference in the internal affairs of France and the subsidiary armies of Austrians, Prussians and Russians, to invade France and to prevent the people of that country from establishing a form of Government of their own choice, the French became highly exasperated with the English people for the unjustifiable and impolitic aggression. Having, however, defeated the combined armies and driven them into disgrace into their own countries, they began to form designs against England and made to punish that Country for taking an active and unprincipled part against them, and joining their enemies…The Parish of Ecclesfield was one of the foremost in the Kingdom in zeal and activity in providing income for the defence of the country against invasion.’ Two hundred men were raised and a subscription of £660 was taken, which had raised to £1052 by 1807.

Scene 11. Schools – Ancient and Modern

The narrator describes the ruinous state of schools in the area on the arrival of Doctor Gatty in Ecclesfield in 1839. Through his untiring efforts he was able to modernise Parsons Cross, Lound and Shire Green Schools, so that by 1881 1000 children were receiving daily tuition, a progress which has continued to the present day, aided by Parliamentary legislation.

Scene 12. Ecclesfield Park

The narrator tells the story of the creation of the park, purchased in 1925 with a cricket pavillion and paddling pool erected.

Scene 13. Local Industries

The narrator discusses the cottage industries of a hundred years ago, before the city extended out to Ecclesfield, where metal working and cutting, the making of saw files, etc. would all be done within the home, and the shift away from this to mass production of steel goods.

Scene 14. The Gatty Memorial Hall

The narrator describes the hall, built by Dr Gatty, vicar of Ecclesfield from 1839-1903 and the hall built to commemorate his long service which opened in 1905. The narrator mentions the various groups which met there.

Scene 15. Girl Guides

The narrator describes the formation of the Girl Guides in 1918.

Scene 16. Church Lads’ Brigade

As above.


‘Our little picture must now fade and history return to its own time. The Church our Fathers built still stands. They in their generation were faithful to the great fellowship to which they belonged, the present is ours, the future our children’s. May we in our time be faithful guardians of the great trust and heritage which is committed to us.’

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Áedán [St Áedán, Aidan] (d. 651) missionary and bishop
  • Mary [Mary Stewart] (1542–1587) queen of Scots

Musical production

  • ‘O God our Help in Ages Past’
  • ‘We Love the Place, O God’
  • ‘In a Monastery Garden’
  • ‘Come Lassies and Lads’

Newspaper coverage of pageant

Book of words


Other primary published materials

A Pageant of Ecclesfield: Performed at the Annual Church Garden Party, Saturday, July 2nd, 1949. Chapeltown, 1949.

Other primary published materials


References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Copy of programme in Sheffield Local Studies Library, reference PAMP 570.

Sources used in preparation of pageant



Pageants focused on parish churches and their histories continued to be a feature of cultural life in the English countryside after the Second World War. This is an example of one such pageant, held at the annual church garden party. As can be seen from the pageant outline, while probably involving a small cast (and seen by a small audience), the production was quite an elaborate one, involving 16 separate scenes.


How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘A Pageant of Ecclesfield’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1057/