Framlingham Castle Pageant

Other names

  • Pageant of Framlingham Castle

Pageant type

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Place: Framlingham Castle (Framlingham) (Framlingham, Suffolk, England)

Year: 1931

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 6


8–11 July 1931

Wednesday 8–Saturday 11 July 1931, 7pm.

Wednesday 8 and Saturday 11 July 1931, 2.30pm.

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Author and Joint Honorary Producer [Pageant Master]: Hudson, Herbert
  • Author and Joint Honorary Producer [Pageant Master]: Hudson, Mrs Herbert
  • Producer and General Stage Manager: Henry Butcher, ARAM
  • President: His Grace the Duke of Norfolk
  • Chairman: Canon H.C.O. Lanchester, MA
  • Honorary Secretary: Mr A.F. Towle
  • Honorary Treasurer: Mr W.E.G. Macdonald
  • Secretaries: Miss K. Burkett (Producer’s), Miss G. Woods (Box Office)
  • Honorary Publicity Agent: Mr G. Hulme-Welch
  • Producer and General Stage Manager: Mr Henry Butcher, ARAM
  • Honorary Stage Managers: Mr Karl Wray, Captain W. Brumwell, Major T.H. Bryant
  • Master of the Music: Mr Urquhart Cawley, BA
  • Honorary Assistant Stage Managers: Mr W. Fairweather, Mr W.V. Ablitt, ARCO, Mr J. Self
  • Deputy Conductor: Mr George Wightman
  • Honorary Wardrobe Assistant (for Mrs Hudson): Mrs L.L. Warnes
  • Honorary Mistress of the Robes: Mrs I.A. Woods
  • Honorary Organiser: Mr L.L. Warnes
  • Honorary Secretary for Hired Robes: Miss M. Jeaffreson
  • Honorary Property Master: Mr A.G. Potter
  • Honorary Masters of Horse: Miss J. Woodgate, Hugh Clarke, Esq., W.E.G. Macdonald, Esq.
  • Heraldic Information: Colonel and Mrs Probert, Rev. A. Harris, Mr H. Hudson
  • Costumes Designed by: Mr and Mrs H. Hudson
  • Heraldic Designs by: Mr H. Hudson, Mr A. Welford, Mr and Mrs L.L. Warnes
  • Honorary Master Tailor: Mr John Self

Names of executive committee or equivalent

Executive Committee:

  • W.T. Brunger, Esq., JP
  • Rev. C. Sheffield
  • F.R. Garrard, Esq., JP
  • I.W. Hayward-Browne, Esq.
  • G.J. Summers, Esq.
  • A.F. Towle, Esq.
  • Miss D.J. Taylor
  • G. Hulme-Welch
  • Miss Marjorie Ling
  • E.G. Warren, Esq.
  • A.T. Wicks, Esq.
  • W.E.G. Macdonald, Esq.
  • W. Woodgate, Esq.
  • A.G. Potter, Esq.
  • Mrs I.A. Woods

Finance Committee:

  • 4 men, 1 woman

Music Committee:

  • 1 man, 3 women

Grounds Committee:

  • 4 men

Needlework Committee:

  • 9 women

Publicity Committee:

  • 1 man, 2 women

Casting Committee:

  • 4 men, 3 women

Reception and Invitation Committee:

  • 4 men, 2 women

Performers’ Welfare Committee:

  • 0 men, 5 women

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

  • Hudson, Herbert
  • Hudson, Mrs Herbert

Names of composers

  • Cawley, Urquhart
  • Gibbons, Orlando
  • Parry, Hubert
  • Elgar, Edward
  • Wright, Mrs Tom
  • Barnicott, R.S.

Numbers of performers


Men, women, children; horses, and hawks.

Financial information

Object of any funds raised


Linked occasion


Audience information

  • Grandstand: Yes
  • Grandstand capacity: n/a
  • Total audience: n/a


‘An audience of more than two thousand, scarcely an unoccupied seat’ for the opening performance.1

2000 attended the Friday 10 July performance.

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest

10s. 6d.–1s.

Covered grandstand (numbered and reserved): 10s. 6d.
Covered grandstand (reserved only): 7s. 6d.
Covered grandstand (unreserved): 5s.
Grand Stand Enclosure (Open): 3s. 6d.
Arena Seats: 2s. 4d.
Standing Room: 1s.
(Children under 14 half-price to all seats.)

Associated events

Civil service, Sunday 12th July – preacher: the Rev. G.D. Castleden, Rector of Dennington.

Pageant outline

Opening Chorus [unclear who delivered these lines]

Above all virtues, Englishmen
Prize Fortitude and Valiance;
By these our Fathers cleared the fen
And held their homes at point of lance.
The name of Framlingham hath stood
For Valiance e’er Time raised a wall
E’er roving Dane and Saxon brood
Came o’er to lay the land in thrall.
Up, Memory!—UP!—recall the past:
The failure and the glory;
Recount the sagas Framlingham
Hath writ in England’s story!

Dance of the Fritillaries [unclear what this dance depicted, though Fritillaries are flowers]

Episode I. Saxon Dynasty—King Edmund Surprised by Ivar the Dane

Some Saxon women are cut off by Danish archers. Ivar comes up. The blind mason is led in. King Edmund gallops out. A strong party of Saxons run up and drive off the Danes.

Episode II. Norman Dynasty—The First Earl of Norfolk and Ailmar the Thane

Ralph de Wahr, Consul of the East Angles and first Earl of Norfolk, arrives to take over the Castle for the King. His escort of Norman Horse and Archers are led by a Jongleur. Ailmar the Saxon refuses to swear fealty for his lands, so they are given to Hugh D’Avranches, Earl of Chester. Roger Bigod is given a Manor (Bigod’s descendants held lands in Framlingham thereafter for two hundred years). A cry of ‘Loup’ is raised as a wolf is sighted. (It was the origin of the modern hunting cry, ‘Loo! Loo!’). All gallop off in pursuit except a few Norman soldiers, who remain behind to despoil the Jew Seneschal.

Song of the Norman Jongleur – Tells of the Norman prowess in war.

Episode III. Homecoming of the Second Duke of Norfolk, AD 1523

The Duchess of Norfolk comes out of the Castle with her Ladies and a party of girls carrying ropes of roses to greet the Duke. The Duke’s procession includes Garter and Clarenceux, Kings of Arms, Carlisle Herald and Windsor Herald. The aged Duke rides in last of all on a Suffolk Punch, trapped in cloth of gold, with his helmet carried before him. He ascends the dais, and the Lords and Ladies tread a stately measure before him.

Flodden Field [ancient ballad] – Patriotically tells of the battle from the point of view of the English

Episode IV. Funeral of the Second Duke of Norfolk, AD 1524

The Funeral procession, headed by chanting White Friars, comes from out the Castle; it halts and turns towards the widowed Duchess as she appears on the battlements. Carlisle Herald declares the titles of the deceased Duke, and the procession resumes its march.

Episode V. Queen Mary at Framlingham Castle

Mary rides in tired and worn and is received by the Governor. The Earl of Arundel gallops in from London with the news that Lady Jane Grey is deposed. The Gentry of Suffolk bring in all the men they can collect, some straight from the plough; the Duke of Norfolk is reinstated in his Castle; Bishop Ridley is sent under arrest on a lame horse to the Tower. Mary rides to London.

Episode VI. Escape of the Recusant Prisoners at an Elizabethan Fair, 1601

The scene is an Elizabethan Fair, with the Romanos of that time, the Fortune-tellers, the Charlatans, the Tinkers, the Hawkers, the Fish-vendors, etc., all rollicking together with the youth of the neighbourhood. Three Priests and a Layman escape from the castle.

Gipsy’s Song – a casual and humorous song about reading fortunes.

Minstrel’s Song – inviting the ladies and lords to see his performance at the Framlingham Fair.

Episode VII. Danforth Sails for America

Nicholas Danforth comes to the Castle to bid farewell to Lord Howard on his return from a Hawking Party.

Episode VIII. Procession of Sir Robert Hitcham’s Pensioners

Sir Robert Hitcham walks up from the town into the Castle. About twelve old men and women come slowly out of the Castle while the Boys’ Choir sings in the distance.

Closing Chorus [It is unclear who sung these lines]

The name of FRAMLINGHAM hath stood
For Valiance e’er Time raised a wall:
E’er roving Dane and Saxon brood
Came o’er to lay the land in thrall.
Though to its close World warfare runs
And Peace allures to dalliance;
She stands!—An ensign to her sons—
For Fortitude and Valiance!

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Edmund I (920/21–946) king of England
  • Bigod, Hugh (I) first earl of Norfolk (d. 1176/7), magnate
  • Mary I (1516–1558) queen of England and Ireland
  • Danforth, Thomas (bap. 1623, d. 1699) politician in America

Musical production

Full Choir and orchestra under Mr Urquhart Cawley (Master of the Music)

Notes on the Music:

  • The Jongleur’s Song in Episode II was a melody furnished by Lascelles, arranged and harmonised by the Master of the Music. 
  • Between Episodes I and II the Chorus sang Orlando Gibbons’ Madrigal, ‘The Silver Swan’; Parry’s part-song, ‘Since thou, O fondest,’ was sang between Episodes V and VI (if time permitted).
  • ‘An All Souls’ Day Dream,’ Mrs Tom Wright, of Framlingham.
  • Mr R.S. Barnicott, MusBac wrote the setting for the Gypsy’s Song in Episode III.
  • The Country Dances in Episode VI were genuine Folk-dances, mostly from Cecil Sharpe’s collection.
  • The Chorale, ‘Ein Feste Burg,’ Episode VII. 
  • For the General Assembly, at the close of the Pageant, Elgar’s Epilogue, ‘The Banner of St George,’ was used
  • The remainder of the music was written specially for the Pageant by Mr Urquhart Cawley, Master of the Music. 

Newspaper coverage of pageant

East Anglian Daily Times

The Times

Book of words

Framlingham Castle Pageant Book of Words. Place of publication unknown, 1931.

Suffolk Record Office, Ipswich Branch. HD2272/97/2/16.

Other primary published materials

  • ‘Framlingham—Entertainment—Pageants—Programme—Programme for the Pageant at the Castle.’ Suffolk Record Office, Ipswich Branch. HD2272/97/5/2. [a leaflet]
  • ‘Framlingham—Entertainment—Pageants—Programme—Full Programme with Adverts and Illustrations for the Pageant.’ Suffolk Record Office, Ipswich Branch. HD2272/97/5/3. [the souvenir]

References in secondary literature

  • Stacey, Nicola. Framlingham Castle. London, 2010. At 39.

Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Suffolk Record Office, Ipswich Branch:
  • ‘Framlingham—Entertainment—Pageants—Programme—Programme for the Pageant at the Castle.’ Place of publication unknown, 1931. Suffolk Record Office, Ipswich Branch. HD2272/97/5/2. [a leaflet]
  • ‘Framlingham—Entertainment—Pageants—Programme—Full Programme with Adverts and Illustrations for the Pageant.’ Place of publication unknown, 1931. Suffolk Record Office, Ipswich Branch. HD2272/97/5/3. [the souvenir]
  • Framlingham Castle Pageant Book of Words. Place of publication unknown, 1931. HD2272/97/2/16.
  • Open Letter RE: Framlingham Pageant. HD2272/97/5/1.

Sources used in preparation of pageant



The Framlingham Castle Pageant of 1931 was a small-to-medium sized summertime pageant, performed six times to audiences of around 2000 on each occasion. The pageant was first formally suggested at a large public meeting in St Michael’s Rooms, Framlingham, in September 1930. A unanimous vote was recorded in favour of proceeding.2 During the pageant, the village was gaily decorated with bunting, and crowds gathered to watch performers in pageant costumes on their way to rehearsals.3 All the props were made locally, as were the majority of the costumes (by local women in pageant workrooms).4 It seemed to be a small success; no figures are available for the financial result, but it received glowing reports in the regional press.

When describing the pageant, the East Anglian Daily Times portrayed it as being another (and natural) example of East Anglian pageantry that had started with Louis Napoleon Parker and his pageants at Bury St Edmunds and Colchester.5 Certainly, Framlingham had the history for such a pageant. The castle’s claim to fame came mostly from the 16th century, when it was briefly owned by Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII. Pursued by the followers of Lady Jane Grey, Mary fled to Framlingham and gathered her troops; she was at the castle when she received the news that she had been proclaimed England’s first ruling queen.6 This scene, naturally, was performed during the pageant.

In a seemingly barnstorming sermon at a civil service the morning after the final performance, in the parish church, the Rev. G.D. Castleden, Rector of Dennington, told the congregation:

There are some of the younger generation today who cry ‘To hell with all the past! What do we care for the past? We are of the new age!’ Nothing but despair can come of that, and the nation that cuts itself away from the past is a nation whose history is closed; the past is precious, above all things. The greatest thing in the pageant has been the gathering together of all classes in one purpose. You have done that, in spite of all the difficulties; you have done it once, even if you never do it again.7

Castleden clearly echoed the original aims of the historical pageantry movement in the Edwardian period. Certainly, like Parker’s original vision, but unlike most 1930s pageants, the storyline ended in the seventeenth century, well before the present day. Like other 1930s events, however, there was also clearly a touristic element to the pageant. The programmes and leaflets advertising the event had instructions on how to get to Framlingham from all over the country. A letter to the residents of Framlingham, soliciting donations and guarantors’ funds, explained how it was hoped that the pageant would attract visitors from a wide circle, especially if those who had ties with the town returned for a ‘home-coming’.8 The pageant souvenir also advertised other local institutions, like the College, Church, and Guildhall, and also several small villages nearby.9 Unsurprisingly, then, the content of the pageant seemed to be fairly light—almost certainly low on dialogue and instead containing much song, dance and action.

The narrative began with the prehistory of Framlingham Castle, with the renowned local hero (and saint) King Edmund craftily escaping from the Danes in the 9th century, and the establishment of the Norman Dynasty. Hereafter, of course, episodes mostly focused on the castle—such as the homecoming of the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Howard, in 1523; a funeral possession of Howard coming out of the castle; Queen Mary at Framlingham Castle in the 1550s; and local man, Nicholas Danforth, bidding goodbye to the castle before he set sail for America in 1634. For fun and frolics there was also a typical Elizabethan fair of 1601. Throughout, as usual, there was an effort to connect the history of the local to the national. There was the familiar dominance of nationally important and royal figures, and the opening chorus clearly declared ‘Recount the sagas Framlingham Hath writ in England’s story!’ Sir Courtenay Warner, who opened the pageant, also made the local/national connection, and told the crowds:

Under the shadow of these great walls that have stood eight hundred years, you will be shown a part of our English history. You will see a representation of the bygone days, when the Saxons and Danes fought here, and you will see the famous men, Howards and others, who spent their lives here in the medieval days when England was becoming great. We have changed since those days; but let us not forget that every age has done its work. Let us not fail in following the footsteps of the past in raising England up; let us hold the flag of England high, as we have held it in the past.10

The American-inflected scene was seemingly included to encourage a closer relationship with the daughter town of Framlingham in Massachusetts. John Merriam, the moderator of the American town, came to the pageant as a guest of honour, and received an ‘immensely enthusiastic welcome’. He told the crowd, ‘I have come across the ocean from my home toown to enjoy this wonderful pageant and to express the greeting of all our people to our friends, here.’11 The Mayor, in turn, hoped that Merriam would go back to the USA and tell them that ‘Suffolk was not dead, but was very much alive’.12

Press coverage was positive. The East Anglian Daily Times described it as a ‘dazzling spectacle of remarkable beauty’.13 Though not a large pageant, it still made it into the national press; the Times declared it an ‘ambitious and picturesque pageant’, and commented that ‘It would be difficult to imagine a more perfect setting for a pageant than that which was brought within the scene for to-days entertainment’.14 Certainly not a major event, the Framlingham pageant remains interesting for two reasons. Firstly, due to the way in which it mixed the original (or at least the stated) aims of the Edwardian pageantry movement with the commercial focus of the 1930s. Secondly, in the importance it gave to connecting such a small place with the USA, reminiscent (again) of earlier pageants produced by Parker (most notably the original Sherborne Pageant of 1905).


  1. ^ ‘Framlingham Pageant’, East Anglian Daily Times, 9 July 1931, 7.
  2. ^ Open Letter RE: Framlingham Pageant, Suffolk Record Office, Ipswich Branch. HD2272/97/5/1.
  3. ^ ‘Framlingham Castle Pageant’, East Anglian Daily Times, 8 June 1931, 7.
  4. ^ ‘Framlingham Pageant’, East Anglian Daily Times, 9 July 1931, 7.
  5. ^ ‘Mr Merriam at Framlingham’, East Anglian Daily Times, 13 July 1931, 6.
  6. ^ Nicola Stacey, Framlingham Castle (London, 2010).
  7. ^ ‘Mr Merriam at Framlingham’, East Anglian Daily Times, 13 July 1931, 6.
  8. ^ Open Letter RE: Framlingham Pageant.
  9. ^ Framlingham—Entertainment—Pageants—Programme—Full Programme with Adverts and Illustrations for the Pageant. Suffolk Record Office, Ipswich Branch. HD2272/97/5/3.
  10. ^ ‘Framlingham Pageant’, East Anglian Daily Times, 9 July 1931, 7.
  11. ^ ‘Mr Merriam at Framlingham’, East Anglian Daily Times, 13 July 1931, 6.
  12. ^ ‘Ibid., 6.
  13. ^ ‘Framlingham Castle Pageant’,East Anglian Daily Times, 8 June 1931, 7.
  14. ^ ‘Valiant Days in East Anglia’, The Times, 9 July 1931, 9.

How to cite this entry

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