Mid-Gloucestershire Pageant

Pageant type

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Place: Frome Hall Park (Stroud) (Stroud, Gloucestershire, England)

Year: 1911

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 3


Saturday 2 September, Thursday 7 September, and Saturday 9 September 1911, 3pm.

3.5 hours long.

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Mistress of the Pageant [Pageant Master]: Cull, May E.
  • Master of the Ground: Charles A. Apperly, JP
  • Mistress of the Robes: Miss Seymour Keay
  • Artist: Maxwell Armfield


Mistress of the Pageant: Miss May E. Cull (London), Mistress of the Earl’s Colne and Rugby Pageants. Charles Apperly, a local JP, was Master of the Pageant Ground.

Names of executive committee or equivalent

Business Committee

  • Chairman and Treasurer: Sir Alfred Apperly, JP
  • Honorary Secretary: Frank Gwynne Evans

Costume Committee:

  • President: Lady Apperly
  • Hon. Sec.: Mrs Gwynne Evans

Publicity Department:

  • Hon. Sec.: Rev C.A. Davis

Music Committee:

  • Joint Hon. Secs.: Mrs W. Thompson and John Jacob

Episode I:

  • Local Pageant Secretary: Mr Charles Hill (Stonehouse)

Episode II:

  • Local Pageant Secretary: Mrs Thompson (Amberley)

Episode III:

  • Local Pageant Secretary: Mr P Baston (Dursley)

Episode IV:

  • Local Pageant Secretary: Miss Seymour Keay (Minchinhampton)

Episode V:

  • Local Pageant Secretaries: Councillor Charles Lambert (Stroud) and Mr J.J. Webber (Rodborough)

Episode VI:

  • Local Pageant Secretary: Rev G. Adam (Painswick)

Episode VII:

  • Local Pageant Secretary: Mr J. Edgar Jefferies (Ebley)

Episode VIII:

  • Local Pageant Secretary: Miss Clissold (Nailsworth)

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

  • Evans, Frank Gwynne

Names of composers


Numbers of performers


The Gloucester Citizen noted: ‘The perfomers are mainly members of the working classes.’ The Western Daily Press backed this up and claimed that of the 1100 performers, 1000 were working class—and that nearly all were from the Liberal Party.

Horses and sheep also appeared.

Financial information

Charity day performance brought in £100, which was divided between the charities. £285 was obtained for the funds of the Liberal Party.

Object of any funds raised

Two of the performances were for the Liberal Party Association, and one split between the Stroud General Hospital, Nursing Association, and Police Orphanage.

Linked occasion


Audience information

  • Grandstand: Not Known
  • Grandstand capacity: n/a
  • Total audience: 15000


About 7000 for one performance, and all performances were reported as being high. It seems likely that at least 15000 saw the pageant.

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest

7s. 6d.–6d.

Covered Seats (numbered and reserved): 7s. 6d.
Back Rows: 5s.
Unreserved: 2s. 6d. and 1s.
Admission: 6d.

Associated events


Pageant outline


The Spirit of Progress welcomes the audience to see the march of progress and liberty in the Cotswold Hills. She draws attention to the struggle to win more knowledge, and the attaining of good and fairness. She ends by introducing the Roman period of the first scene.

Episode I. Britons and Romans, c. AD 45

The scene opens with the entry of Druids, Druidesses, British Warriors and Warrior Maidens bringing human victims whom they are going to sacrifice to their gods. The rites are interrupted by the arrival of the Roman soldiers, who take prisoner the Arch Druid and the British Chieftains, and release the victims. The Roman General raises an altar to Terminus, the god of roads, and offers up libation.

Episode II. Godwin and Gytha, c. AD 1050

The Nuns of Berkeley, who have just been unrightfully driven from their Convent by Earl Godwin, enter chanting sadly. Countess Gytha is borne in on a litter, and the Abbess appeals to her for help. A gift of fruit is sent by the Earl to Gytha, which she refuses, having sworn to eat no food from Berkeley until the Earl makes reparation to the nuns. Earl Godwin then appears with his attendants and bestows on Gytha the Manor of Woodchester for her maintenance, whereupon she partakes of fruit borne in by children, and vows to build a Convent for the nuns at Woodchester.

Episode III. The King’s Commissioners Preparing Domesday Book, AD 1086

Wulfstan, Bishop of the diocese, enters with the four Royal Commissioners, followed by barons, priests, villeins, etc. Remigius, Bishop of Lincoln, announces the scope of the Domesday Book enquiry, and the sheriff, barons, priests, bailiffs, and villeins swear on oath to make true returns. Slaves on their way to be sold at Bristol are driven in, and Wulfstan orders their release. Roger de Berkeley opposes, and is rebuked by Wulfstan.

Episode IV. Edward III and the Flemish Weavers, AD 1331

Shepherds enter with sheep and are bidden to make way for the King. They are in doubt how to greet him but decide they ought to prostrate themselves on the ground. The King rides up, followed by his lords and the Flemish weavers. A train of pack-horses is seen carrying Cotswold wool to be shipped to Flanders. The King reproaches the English weavers for not making use of the wool, and tells them he has brought the Flemish weavers into the country to teach their improved methods of weaving. The English and Flemish weavers make friends and go off arm-in-arm.

Episode V. Queen Elizabeth and Huguenot Refugees, AD 1574

A Cloth Fair. A Maypole is set up and the children dance round it. Pedlars go hawking their wares among the crowd of country people. The Sheriff enters and announces the approach of the Queen. She enters with a train of lords and ladies, and after a song of welcome she is presented with a roll of cloth by the head of the Weavers’ Guild. Girls come in and dance. Some Huguenot refugees appear and are roughly treated by the crowd. The Queen summons them before her and promises them her protection.

Episode VI. Puritans and Royalists in the Election of AD 1660

Colonel Massey, who held Gloucester against the King in the Civil War, enters, followed by a crowd, and speaks in favour of the recall of the Charles II to the throne. The Puritans and Royalists quarrel and are parted by the war, and Lady Hale advocates the women’s view and the claims of peace. A messenger announces that Sir M. Hale has been elected, and the crowd escort him off cheering and singing.

Episode VII. George III, Robert Raikes, and Mrs Siddons, AD 1788

A crowd of country people enter with a procession of Sunday School children singing a hymn. The King follows on horseback, while Queen Charlotte is carried in a sedan chair. The King congratulates Robert Raikes on the institution of Sunday Schools, and the Queen addresses the children. Mrs Siddons approaches and is presented to the King. She defends the stage and pleads the cause of art for the people, and she persuades the King to promise to come and see her act in Macbeth.

Episode VIII. Corn Law Riots, AD 1846

Enter a crowd of unemployed and starving weavers and workpeople complaining of the dearness of bread and the cruelty of the Corn Laws. A band of rioters come up singing. They attack a baker’s cart and seize the bread. They are then setting out for the mills to destroy the new machines but are stopped by a mill-owner, who explains that it is the Corn Laws and not the new machines that cause unemployment. A messenger brings news of the repeal of the Corn Laws. General rejoicing.

Episode IX. Final Rally and Present Day Progress

A symbolic representation of the arts and manufactures flourishing in the district to-day. Prosperity: a Gloucestershire orchard; poultry farming; dairy farming; harvesting machines; the woollen industry; old age pensioners; procession of manufacturers.

Joy: the rising generation (procession of school children playing games and dancing), the Empire Builders (car of children learning useful knowledge), Our Future Citizens (the boy scouts).

Peace: Peace on earth, goodwill towards men (the United Sunday Schools).


The Spirit of Progress returns and thanks the audience for all being ‘friends of progress’. She declares that, in the two thousand years of the pageant from Romans to the present, ‘we’ve grown to be a mighty nation, civilized and free’, with Cotswold making its own contribution to the good of England. She then proposes that the good work should continue, and that crime, disease, want, war, and misery should be banished in favour of virtue, peace, and happiness.

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Godwine [Godwin], earl of Wessex (d. 1053) magnate
  • Remigius (d. 1092) bishop of Lincoln
  • Wulfstan [St Wulfstan] (c.1008–1095) bishop of Worcester
  • Ferrers, Henry de (d. 1093x1100) magnate and administrator
  • Edward III (1312–1377) king of England and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine
  • Elizabeth I (1533–1603) queen of England and Ireland
  • Massey, Sir Edward (1604x9–1674) parliamentarian and royalist army officer
  • Hale, Sir Mathew (1609–1676) judge and writer
  • George III (1738–1820) king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and king of Hanover
  • 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
  • Raikes, Robert (1736–1811) promoter of Sunday schools
  • Siddons [née Kemble], Sarah (1755–1831) actress
  • Moreton, Henry George Francis, second earl of Ducie (1802–1853) agriculturist and cattle breeder

Musical production

Orchestra and choir.

Newspaper coverage of pageant

Daily Chronicle
Cheltenham Echo
Westminster Gazette
Morning Leader
Gloucester Citizen
North Wilts Herald
Morning Post
Gloucester Journal
Western Daily Press

Book of words


Other primary published materials

  • Mid-Gloucestershire Historical Pageant of Progress Book of Words. Stroud, 1911. [actually seems to be more of a Souvenir—no dialogue]. Souvenir sold for 6d. Gloucestershire Archives. RR293.11GS.

References in secondary literature

  • Beard, Howard. Stroud Through Time. Stroud, 2008.3
  • ___. The Stonehouse Valley Through Time. Stroud, 2012.4
  • ___. Minchinhampton and Amberley Through Time. Amberley, 2009.5

Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Mid-Gloucestershire Historical Pageant of Progress Book of Words. Stroud, 1911. [actually seems to be more of a Souvenir—no dialogue]. Souvenir sold for 6d. Gloucestershire Archives. RR293.11GS.
  • Mid-Gloucestershire Historical Pageant 1911. Programme. Gloucestershire Archives. RQ293.3GS.
  • Photos. http://www.stroudlocalhistorysociety.org.uk/research/pageant/.

Sources used in preparation of pageant



The Mid-Gloucestershire Historical Pageant took place in September 1911 at Frome Hall Park in the market town of Stroud. There were three performances to what were reported as large crowds, likely creating a total attendance of about 15000. It was deemed a success by both the organisers and the local/regional press. The pageant was mastered by May E. Cull, one of the first women pageant-masters and a rarity in the Edwardian years; she had previously produced the Earl’s Colne and Rugby Pageants.6 The pageant was mostly organised by the local Liberal Party, whose officials and MPs made up the majority of the committees, with the rank and file also taking most of the 1100 performing roles. It was written by Frank Gwynne Evans, a local bookshop owner and leading Liberal of the district (chairman of the Mid-Gloucestershire League of Young Liberals, and a Councillor for the Rodborough Council).7 Undeniably the driving force, however, was Sir Alfred Apperly, the head of a prominent family firm of woollen cloth manufacturers in the Stroud area. He also chaired the Mid-Gloucestershire Liberal Association and was a County and District Councillor, a Guardian of the Poor, and a Justice of the Peace.8

In terms of organisation, the Mid-Gloucestershire district was split into eight groups. Each group then took one episode—‘so that every place may have its share in performing as well as witnessing the picturesque scenes’.9 All dresses and properties were made locally. The profits of about £400 went to local charities and the Liberal Party Association. Again, continuing the involvement of the Liberal Party, the most important role of the ‘Sprit of Progress’ went to Miss Dickinson, the daughter of the late Mr S.S. Dickinson, MP, a former chairman of the Gloucestershire Quarter Session, and the sister of Mr W.H. Dickinson, the well-known London MP.10

Reflecting the leadership of Apperly, there was a surprisingly transparent attempt to boost local industry in the narrative of the pageant. The fourth episode showed Edward III and Flemish Weavers in 1331, and their supposedly happy joining with English weavers to cement the Cotswold wool industry. However, it was the final episode that really departed from Edwardian historical pageantry format to become something more akin to a trade fair. As the programme made clear, ‘one of the principal objects’ was to draw ‘attention to the rich history and present prosperity of the district’, the latter achieved by having ‘a symbolic picture of the different arts and industries as they are flourishing in the neighbourhood today.’11 Shown in the episode were a Gloucestershire orchard, poultry farming, dairy farming, harvesting machines, the woollen industry, and a procession of manufacturers. As the Gloucester Citizen explained during the pageant, ‘Sir Alfred is desirous that English wool should be increasingly used, and that the people of this country should rely less upon what is obtained from the colonies.’12

However, more generally, the narrative of the pageant concentrated on the idea of progress and liberty, and the contribution of the Cotswolds to the nation. It began with a classic Prologue, where a ‘Spirit of Progress’ welcomed the audience to the pageant and outlined how the pageant would draw attention to the struggle to win more knowledge, good, and fairness. The Romans in the first episode were shown as a liberating and civilising force, freeing slaves meant for sacrifice, while offering up libations to the God of Roads; Gytha, in the second episode, set in 1050 AD, was shown challenging Earl Godwin over the protection of nuns and their convent; the third episode showed Bishop Wulfstan releasing slaves in 1086 AD, in the time of Domesday; the fifth showed Queen Elizabeth, the Edwardian pageant favourite, promising to protect Huguenot refugees; the sixth showed Lady Hale advocating ‘the women’s view’ of peace in the quarrel between Puritans and Royalists; the seventh episode showed another local woman, Mrs Siddons, championing the importance of ‘art for the people’; and the ninth ‘present-day’ episode showed the rising generation of school children playing games and dancing, representing ‘Joy’, boy scouts representing ‘Our Future Citizens’, and the United Sunday Schools representing ‘peace on earth, goodwill towards men’. The Epilogue featured the return of the Spirit of Progress, who urged the people of Cotswold to continue the good work of their forebears, by ensuring that crime, disease, want, war, and misery were banished in favour of virtue, peace, and happiness. Reflecting the influence of the Liberal Party, the Corn Law riots of 1846 AD (a very contemporary scene in contrast to most Edwardian pageants) were shown being quelled by the Repeal of the Corn Laws, one of the key moments in the quest for liberal free trade. It is unsurprising, then, that there were murmurings from the public that the pageant was political propaganda—a charge the Cheltenham Chronicle rejected.13

Bearing in mind this accusation, press coverage from the Liberal press (collected in the Book of Words) was indeed entirely positive. The Daily Chronicle said that it was a ‘feast of colour, all in charming taste’ with ‘skill and ingenuity’ in the making of the costumes.’14 Many newspapers drew attention to the educational value of the pageant. The Morning Leader declared ‘as an educational display it excelled all others, and will be remembered by the country side’15, while the Westminster Gazette said ‘There were lessons for all.’16 Others highlighted the classlessness of the pageant and noted the heavy working-class involvement in particular—which supposedly made up more than 90% of the cast.17 The Western Daily Press went all out and declared the pageant ‘one of the most beautiful spectacles witnessed in the West for many years’, in a typically hyperbolic report.18

The Mid-Gloucestershire Historical Pageant, though not a huge pageant in relation to many of the Edwardian period, was still very important. Firstly, its narrative came all the way to the present-day, which was a rarity. Most pageants ended well before the eighteenth century, thus avoiding any contentious contemporary issues. Secondly, it was mastered by a woman, and women more generally were well represented across the pageant’s organisation. In the Edwardian period female pageant-masters were very rare. Thirdly, the pageant was organised by the Liberal Party. Again, this was rare for the period; most pageants were civically organised by a co-operation of town council, church, and local dignitaries. Finally, the pageant had an explicitly ‘boosterist’ aim, by attempting to encourage industry in the present day—most aptly illustrated in the final episode. Many of these themes would become much more common in the inter-war period: narratives that stretched to the present; a heavier party political focus, especially with the rise of communist party pageants; a great involvement of women, especially with the creation of Women’s Institute pageants; and the use of historical pageantry as a method of boosting the local economy.


  1. ^ ‘Mid-Gloucestershire Pageant’, Gloucester Citizen, 26 August 1911, 5.
  2. ^ ‘Mid-Gloucestershire Pageant’, Western Daily Press, 8 September 1911, 5.
  3. ^ Accessed online at Google Books, no page numbers.
  4. ^ Accessed online at Google Books, no page numbers.
  5. ^ Accessed online at Google Books, no page numbers.
  6. ^ Mid-Gloucestershire Historical Pageant 1911, Stroud, 1911. Programme, Gloucestershire Archives. RQ293.3GS.
  7. ^ Cheltenham Chronicle, 18 October 1913, 3.
  8. ^ ‘Landed families of Britain and Ireland’, Accessed online 19th June 2016. http://landedfamilies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/155-apperly-of-rodborough-court.html.
  9. ^ Mid-Gloucestershire Historical Pageant 1911.
  10. ^ ‘Mid-Gloucestershire Pageant’, Western Daily Press, 8 September 1911, 5.
  11. ^ Mid-Gloucestershire Historical Pageant 1911.
  12. ^ ‘Mid-Gloucester Pageant’, Western Daily Press, 4 September 1911, 7.
  13. ^ Cheltenham Chronicle, 19 August 1911, 3.
  14. ^ Extract from Daily Chronicle, 4 September 1911 in Mid-Gloucestershire Historical Pageant of Progress Book of Words, 11, Gloucestershire Archives. RR293.11GS.
  15. ^ Extract from Morning Leader, 4 September 1911 in Mid-Gloucestershire Historical Pageant of Progress Book of Words, 27.
  16. ^ Extract from Westminster Gazette, 9 September 1911 in Mid-Gloucestershire Historical Pageant of Progress Book of Words, 23.
  17. ^ ‘Mid-Gloucestershire Pageant’, Gloucester Citizen, 26 August 1911, 5; ‘Mid-Gloucestershire Pageant’, Western Daily Press, 8 September 1911, 5.
  18. ^ ‘Mid-Gloucestershire Pageant’, Western Daily Press, 8 September 1911, 5.

How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘Mid-Gloucestershire Pageant’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1130/