A Pageant of Grimston
- being Scenes in the History of the Grimston Family from Legendary times till the present day
Place: On the site of the original Grimston Earth Moat Farm (Grimston Garth) (Grimston Garth, Yorkshire, East Riding, England)
Number of performances: 2
10 and 17 August 1935, at 2.30pm
Name of pageant master and other named staff
- Written, Arranged and Produced by [Pageant Master]: Hall, Mrs Jeffrey
- Assistant Producers: Mr and Mrs Sydney Harrison
- Dances Arranged by: Miss Norah Johnson
- Scenery designed and executed by: Sir D’Arcy Waechter and Mr. C. Gough
Names of executive committee or equivalent
Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)
Hall, Mrs Jeffrey
Names of composers
- Grieg, Edvard
- Coleridge-Taylor, Samuel
- Schubert, Franz
- Brahms, Johannes
Numbers of performers100
The figure of 100 is an estimate
Object of any funds raised
In aid of Garton Church
- Grandstand: Not Known
- Grandstand capacity: n/a
- Total audience: 750
The figure for total audience is an estimate. Between 500 and 1000 people saw the pageant.
Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest
Prologue. Time, Present Day.
Lady Waechter de Grimston and Miss Ursula Byrom survey the site of the original Grimston Garth. Left to herself, the latter falls asleep, and sees in a dream the Spirit of Grimston, who promises to show her scenes from past history.1
Episode 1. Time, about AD 870
A band of Vikings led by Grim and Gar land on this coast. Grim chooses the site of his ‘tun’. Hummel, a Viking previously settled at Hummel’s tun (Humbleton), takes them to his Hall, promising to show Gar also a spot where he may settle.
Episode 2. Time, 1066.
Sylvester de Grimston, a standard-bearer of William the Norman at the Battle of Hastings, arrives to claim Grimston as a feudal fief, and received the oath of allegiance from his Saxon tenantry.
Episode 3. Time, about 1292.
King Edward I, on the way to his Scottish wars, halts at Grimston to collect troops in Holderness, while the Squire, Roger de Grimston, has ridden on to Berwick to apprise the besieged citizens there of the King’s approach with a relieving force. Roger de Grimston returns after a long and hazardous journey, and is rewarded by a knighthood. The scene explains the probable origins of the Grimston crest.
Episode 4. Time, about 1312.
Sir Roger de Grimston has ridden with his sons to join the Earls of Warwick and Lancaster in their siege of the King’s favourite, Piers Gaveston, in Scarborough Castle. His youngest son, Thomas, returns with an image of the Virgin taken from Fraisthorpe Priory (near Bridlington).
Episode 5. Time 1588.
Sir Marmaduke Grimston, who was active in organising the defences of Holderness against the threatened Spanish invasion in Elizabeth’s reign, and his family and tenantry, keep holiday. Village children present country dances, at the conclusion of which news is brought of the defeat of the Armada.
Country dances presented by Children of the Grimston School are as follows:
- Old Mole
- Gathering Peascods
- Chelsea Reach
- The Ribbon Dance
- Merry Milkmaids
Episode 6. Time 1716.
In 1646, William Grimston was deprived of his goods and rents for aiding the Royalist Cause in the Civil Wars. The family retired to live at York, the old Manor House of Grimston Garth being at this time too, destroyed by fire. This episode shows William Grimston, son of the Royalist Squire, paying a last visit to the ruined site of his old home, with a view to bidding it farewell and arranging for the interment of his body in Garton Church, where a stone slab in the chancel still marks his grave.
Episode 7. Time 1805.
In 1785, Thomas Grimston completed the rebuilding on a new site of the present Grimston Garth. During the Napoleonic Wars, this squire formed and commanded a troop of volunteers known as the Grimston Yeomanry, to help resist the threatened French invasion, as this episode depicts.
Epilogue. Present Day
The Spirit of Grimston and her sisters lead the Child back by means of melody and dance to the present day. Lady Waechter de Grimston returns and awakens her. As she details the dream she has had of Grimston’s past, a Tableau of the actors forms itself upon the stage. The pageant then closes with God Save the King
Key historical figures mentioned
- Edward I (1239–1307) %%king of England and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine
- Petite Suite de Concert, Coleridge Taylor
- Waltz no. 15, Brahms
- Death of Ase from ‘Peer Gynt’, Grieg.
- Anitra’s Dance, Grieg
- March Militaire, Schubert.
Newspaper coverage of pageant
Hull Daily Mail
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Book of words
Other primary published materials
- A Pageant of Grimston; being Scenes in the History of the Grimston Family from Legendary times till the present day, pictured by members of the Grimston family, staff and villagers of Grimston Garth and Garton, in the year of our Lord 1935, being the eight hundredth anniversary of their establishment in East Yorkshire according to Historical Record. [Hull], 1935.
References in secondary literature
Archival holdings connected to pageant
- Copy of Programme in East Yorkshire Archives, Beverley, Reference DDX738/13
Sources used in preparation of pageant
Whilst most pageants celebrated a place, occasionally they celebrated the exploits of a single family. This was the case here, the family in question being the Grimstons. The village of Grimston is a tiny hamlet on the coast of East Yorkshire, dominated by the mansion of Grimston Garth. The Grimston family also owned 1200 acres of land in the surrounding area, and traced their lineage back almost to the Norman Conquest.2 The pageant was put on by the family and written and directed by Mrs Jeffrey Hall, wife of the local vicar in aid of whose church the pageant was held. The Yorkshire Post declared that ‘Eight hundred years of the Grimstons’ history are promised, from the first landing of Grim on the East Coast and Silvester’s homage to the Thegn of Grimston.’3 In fact, this was something of an exaggeration designed to emphasise the family’s ancient claims on the land and village. In fact, however, the Victoria County History only traces the Grimstons’ tenancy back to 1150.4
The Grimston family performed many of the roles in the pageant. Lady Armatrude Waechter de Grimston (who had inherited the estate in 1927) made many of the ‘distinguished costumes’, and Mr and Mrs Ernest Grimston ‘had returned from the South in order to take part’ with Ernest Grimston playing Edward I.5 The Yorkshire Post noted that ‘Acting honours go to Sir D’Arcy, who took no fewer than six parts, ranging from long-beared Grim the Viking and Wat the Blacksmith to bent old William Grimston who returned to mourn over the ruined site of his old home.’6 ‘Blackfriar’, a columnist of the Hull Daily Mail visited and noted his opinions:
many Hull people, like myself must have enjoyed the delightful repeat performance of the pageant at Grimston Garth, on Saturday. From the point of view of attendance, I have no hesitation in saying that had the performance been staged nearer to Hull, thousands would have attended, where only hundreds were able to do so. But that, of course, would have meant sacrificing the unique site on which the episodes were staged.7
Blackfriar also took the opportunity, based on the evident success of the pageant, to encourage a similar venture in Holderness, a village three miles east of Hull, though this appears not to have taken place.
The feudal stability (or hangover) in Grimston proved remarkably short-lived. Lady Waechter, who was a prominent figure in Hull society, serving as a councillor during the Second World War, and becoming a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society,8 gave Grimston to her cousin Norman R. Grimston in 1946. This was during the post-war era of high levels of taxation on income and capital in which many country homes were demolished. Norman Grimston sold the estate to Andrew Steam’s Fishing Company, later passing into the hands of Reckitt and Colman.9 Whilst the house survives today in private ownership, much of the farm was sold for farming and fishing purposes.10
- Synopses taken from from A Pageant of Grimston—being Scenes in the History of the Grimston Family from Legendary times till the present day, pictured by members of the Grimston family, staff and villagers of Grimston Garth and Garton, in the year of our Lord 1935, being the eight hundredth anniversary of their establishment in East Yorkshire according to Historical Record ([Hull], 1935), unpaginated.
- K.J. Allison, A.P. Baggs, T.N. Cooper, C. Davidson-Cragoe and J. Walker, 'Middle division: Garton', in A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 7, Holderness Wapentake, Middle and North Divisions, ed. G.H.R Kent (London, 2002), 40-50, accessed 5 July 2016, British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/yorks/east/vol7/pp40-50.
- Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 2 August 1935, 6.
- Allison, Baggs, Cooper, Davidson-Cragoe and Walker, 'Middle division: Garton'.
- Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 12 August 1935, 6.
- Hull Daily Mail, 20 August 1935, 4.
- She lived to 91: Times, 26 February 1982, 22.
- Allison, Baggs, Cooper, Davidson-Cragoe and Walker, 'Middle division: Garton'.
- ‘Grimston Garth, Aldbrough, East Yorkshire, England’, Parks and Gardens UK, accessed 5 July 2016, http://www.parksandgardens.org/places-and-people/site/1540/summary
How to cite this entry
Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘A Pageant of Grimston’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1285/