A Christian Cavalcade

Pageant type

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Place: Central Hall (Liverpool) (Liverpool, Lancashire, England)

Year: 1951

Indoors/outdoors: Indoors

Number of performances: 4


30 July–2 August 1951, 8pm

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Producer [Pageant Master]: Anderson, Estelle
  • Stage Manager: Mr Jack Todd
  • Costumes Designed by Mrs W.E.A. Lockett, under the direction of Mrs Alan Tytler, assisted by Mrs L.A. Le Mesurier

Names of executive committee or equivalent


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

Cropper, Margaret

Names of composers


Numbers of performers


Members of Anglican and Free Church drama groups.

Financial information

Object of any funds raised


Linked occasion

Festival of Britain. This was one of a number of events organised by the churches in Liverpool in association with the festival.

Audience information

  • Grandstand: No
  • Grandstand capacity: n/a
  • Total audience: n/a

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Numbered and reserved seats 5s. and 3s.6d.; unreserved 2s.

Associated events

There were a number of events in Liverpool to celebrate the Festival of Britain, and some of these were organised by the churches. The Festival was opened on 22 July with a special service at Liverpool Cathedral, and other activities included an exhibition, ‘The Church in Action’, at Rylands Buildings, opposite Lime Street Station, and a series of daily films at the Central Hall, which was also the venue for the pageant. During the festival, Central Hall was ‘a centre of Christian fellowship’, with a rest-room, restaurant, book display and chapel for prayer.2

Pageant outline

Scene 1

King Oswald of Northumbria features in this scene, as having brought the Christian Gospel to Lancashire from Iona.

Scene 2

Parents bring their babies to be baptised at the tont of the ancient Church of Walton, the mother Church of Liverpool.

Scene 3

This scene deals with the monks of Birkenhead Priory, and the care they offered to wayfarers who had to make the sometimes dangerous crossing of the Mersey en route to Cheshire and Wales .

Scene 4

Set in the old church of St Mary le Quay, later replaced by St Nicholas, a forerunner of the present parish Church of Liverpool.

Scene 5

Wycliffe, Cranmer and the Reformation.

Scene 6

The life of a Puritan family in a farmstead of Sir Richard Molyneux at Toxteth. 

Scene 7

The Blue Coat School.

Scene 8

The Christian struggle against slavery. The scene also introduces a new character in the pageant, the figure of Covetousness. (Like many interwar pageants, allegorical figures featured heavily here.)

Scene 9

This scene deals with the life and work of Kitty Wilkinson, a philanthropist who established the first wash-house at the time of an epidemic of cholera in the city.

Scene 10

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism - and his connections to the city.

Scene 11

Josephine Butler and her work with the women prisoners of the city's bridewells.


The pageant ended with what was described as 'a striking series' of smaller scenes, depicting religious work in various local contexts:

  • Prison Gate Mission at Walton Gaol
  •  The Vigilance Association at the Princes Landing Stage
  •  The Mission to Seamen on the Mersey
  •  The Port Chaplain on the Emigrant Ship
  •  The Salvation Army’s Eventide Homes.
The performance ends with Cavalcade of Christian men and women, boys and girls. They rally to the Torch of Truth held high by Christian Knowledge and led forward by Christian Action.

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Oswald [St Oswald] (603/4–642) king of Northumbria
  • Wyclif [Wycliffe], John [called Doctor Evangelicus] (d. 1384) theologian, philosopher, and religious reformer
  • Cranmer, Thomas (1489–1556) archbishop of Canterbury
  • Molyneux, Richard, first Viscount Molyneux of Maryborough (bap. 1594, d. 1636) office-holder and landowner
  • Wilkinson [née Seward], Catherine [Kitty] (1786–1860) philanthropist
  • Wesley [Westley], John (1703–1791) Church of England clergyman and a founder of Methodism
  • Butler [née Grey], Josephine Elizabeth (1828–1906) social reformer and women's activist

Musical production

Newspaper coverage of pageant

Book of words


Other primary published materials


The Church in the Festival: The Contribution of the Churches to the Festival of Britain in Liverpool. Liverpool, 1951. Issued by the Liverpool Round Table of Christian Congregations. Price 1s.

References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Copy of The Church in the Festival, Liverpool Archives, 283.064.CHU.

Sources used in preparation of pageant



The churches in Liverpool made a number of contributions to the Festival of Britain, one of which was this pageant with a cast of 100, performed four times in the Central Hall, Renshaw Street. The script-writer was Margaret Cropper, a poet, playwright and historian known for her Lakeland poems. The producer was Miss Estelle Anderson of Liverpool Repertory School of Dramatic Art. The pageant was narrated by the characters of Christian Knowledge and Christian Action, played by a woman and man respectively, and told the story of the churches—at least, the Protestant churches—in Liverpool. There was another allegorical figure—Covetousness—but mostly the pageant depicted historical characters ranging from King Oswald to Josephine Butler. It was also emphasised that ‘The Pageant is not only concerned to show what the Christian Church has done, but what the Church is doing in the life of the city at present.’4 Contemporary scenes depicted the work of the Salvation Army, missions to seamen and the Walton Gaol, and other activities of the churches in the community. The churches’ contribution to the Festival was organised—and the souvenir programme issued—by the Liverpool Round Table of Christian Congregations.


  1. ^ The Church in the Festival: The Contribution of the Churches to the Festival of Britain in Liverpool (Liverpool, 1951): Liverpool Archives, 283.064.CHU.
  2. ^ The Church in the Festival: The Contribution of the Churches to the Festival of Britain in Liverpool (Liverpool, 1951), 2-3: Liverpool Archives, 283.064.CHU.
  3. ^ The Church in the Festival: The Contribution of the Churches to the Festival of Britain in Liverpool (Liverpool, 1951), 28-30: Liverpool Archives, 283.064.CHU.
  4. ^ The Church in the Festival: The Contribution of the Churches to the Festival of Britain in Liverpool (Liverpool, 1951), 29: Liverpool Archives, 283.064.CHU.

How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘A Christian Cavalcade’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1271/