Sir Walter Scott Centenary Perth Pageant

Pageant type

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Place: North Inch (Perth) (Perth, Perth And Kinross, Scotland)

Year: 1932

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 1


24 September 1932

Perth has been variously described as a town or a city. Although historically considered a city, this status was removed during local government reorganisation in the 1970s; however, it was formally re-designated a city in 2012. At the time of the pageant, it was known as a city and therefore had a Lord Provost.

The pageant was the grand finale of a week of events to commemorate the centenary of Scott's death. It took the form of a large procession of historical characters from Scott’s novels; many of these were tableaux pieces mounted on lorries. These processed in front of the grandstand at the North Inch Park. Following this, there was a performance of an adaptation of Scott’s The Fair Maid of Perth in the pageant arena. The play had previously run in Perth Theatre nightly commencing on Saturday 17th September 1932. This theatre performance was said to be a miniature pageant.1

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Pageant Master: Heggie, W.C.


The names of those involved with the organisation of the procession are mostly unknown.

For the performance of The Fair Maid of Perth, the writer and producer was Mr W.C. Heggie and the stage manager was Mr Stevenson.2 Others named as assisting were: Mrs A. Christie, Miss Jean Shields, Messrs Wm. Dick, J. Stewart, David A. Mercer, David Duncan and James McIlwham.3

Names of executive committee or equivalent

Centenary Committee:

  • Clerk to the committee: Mr Robert Adam

Theatrical Committee:

  • Convener: ex-Baillie Thomas Hunter
  • Secretary: James Paton
  • Other members: Lord Dean of Guild, J.B. Macdonald; Hon. Treasurer R. Nimmo; ex-Baillie P. Baxter; Robt. Adam


The pageant was organised by the City Council and various public bodies who represented other parts of the district as part of a week of centenary celebrations.6 There was a committee overseeing the week as a whole and a specific ‘Theatrical organisation’ committee but most of the office holders for both of these are not named in the press. The pageant programme does not give the names of any of the organisers.

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

  • Heggie, W.C.


Mr W. C. Heggie adapted Scott’s novel The Fair Maid of Perth. This was performed as part of the pageant.

Names of composers


Numbers of performers


c2000 people took part in the procession including some adults, but those taking part were mostly young people and children. A donkey was used to draw a cart during the procession

Financial information

Theatre production expenditure: £16. 15s. 11d.
Expenditure on exhibition: £10. 11s.
Expenditure on commemoration service: £4. 5s.
Pageant expenses: £219. 13s. 7½d.
Total expenditure for all centenary celebrations: £408. 18s. 11½d.

Theatre production sum realised: £309. 18s. 8d.
Admission to theatre sum realised: £298. 6s.
Pageant sum realised: £219. 14s. 8½d.
Total raised by all centenary celebrations: £541. 17s. 11½d.

Balance for pageant: 1s. 1d.
Balance on all events: £132. 13s.8

Object of any funds raised

Lord Provost of Perth’s Fund.


The decision to assign the profits of the centenary week to a Lord Provost’s Fund was only taken after the accounts were published.9

Linked occasion

100th anniversary of the death of Sir Walter Scott.

Audience information

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

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Reserved seats: 3s.
Unreserved seats: 2.s. and 1 s.12

Tickets for the theatre performances ranged as follows:
Reserved seats: 4s. 6d., 3s. 6d., and 2s. 6d.
Unreserved seats: 2s., 1s. 3d., and 7d.13

It was arranged that in the event of wet weather the pageant was to be held in Perth City Hall ‘on a modified scale’.14

It is clear from the figure quoted for the number who attended that most tickets were unreserved and it is likely that these were standing room only in ‘a reserved enclosure’.15

Associated events

  • Exhibition of Scott relics in the Sandeman Public Library, Perth (Saturday 27 August–Saturday 24 September). Admission free.
  • Commemoration ceremony at the Scott Monument on South Inch, Perth (Wednesday 21 September 1932, 3pm). Local schools given a holiday.
  • Dinner given by Perth Rotary Club (Thursday 22 September 1932), including an address by Mr E. Rosslyn Mitchell.
  • Special service in St John’s Church (Sunday 25 September, 2.30pm), including an address given by Professor Blyth Webster, St Andrews University.16

Pageant outline

Scene II. Sir Walter Writing in his Study, c. early 19th Century

In this scene Walter Scott was played by Mr T. B. Marshall. There was no speech; Scott is merely portrayed at work in his study. It is presumed that it was presented on some sort of moving vehicle which processed behind the Perth Silver Band. Together these headed up the pageant procession. This scene was organised by Perth Academy F.P. Club.17

Scene IV. The Household of Mary Queen of Scots, at Lochleven Castle, from The Abbot, 1568

In addition to Mary (played by Christina R. Drummond), there were three other characters in this scene: two gentlewomen who accompany the queen, Mary Fleming (Georgina Walker) and Catherine Seytoun (Margaret C. King), and Roland Graeme (played by Margaret Ashton). The Abbot, first published in 1820, tells a fictionalised account of Mary Stuart’s imprisonment in Lochleven Castle, her enforced abdication, her escape from the castle and her subsequent flight to England. The character of Roland Graeme is the main protagonist and is a fictional figure. In the book he is a staunch supporter of Mary. There is no further information about any elements of performance save that Mary appeared ‘pale and proud’.18 The scene was organised and played by students from Caledonian Road School, Perth and the players took part in the procession on foot.

Scene V. Scene from The Lady of the Lake, early 16th Century

In this scene four characters are presented from Scott’s famous long poem (first published 1810), three male and one female but they are all played by boys from Balhousie Boys’ School. They are as follows: the central female character of Ellen Douglas (played by Edward Robertson); Ellen’s father the Earl Douglas (Robert Carcary); the knight, James Fitz James (Robert Adams) and the bard, Alan Bane (Alex Zimmerman). It is not known if there was any recitation involved but as the boys took part on foot, this is perhaps unlikely. The action of the poem is supposed to take place during the reign of James V (1513–1542).

Scene VI. Four Characters from Quentin Durward, 15th Century France

Four characters were included, taken from the novel first published in 1823: Isabella Countess of Croye (played by Jenny Cables); Countess Hameline of Croye (Patricia Bennnett); Quentin Durward (a young Scottish archer played by Leslie Bissett) and The Bohemian (Charles McPhee). Northern District School in Perth organised this piece and took part in the procession on foot.

Scene VII. The Antiquary and his Friends, 1794

Taken from the novel The Antiquary (first published in 1816 as the third of the Waverley novels).There are nine players in this scene as follows:

Jonathan Oldbuck, the Antiquary (played by J. Pyper)
Edie Ochiltree a wandering beggar (M. Dowds)
Mr Lovel, a nobleman in disguise (J. Nutt)
Mr Arthur Wardour of Knockwinnock Castle (L.Paterson)
Isabella Wardour, his daughter (N. Dow)
Captain McIntyre, Oldbuck’s nephew (B. Robertson)
Grizel Oldbuck, sister of the Antiquary (C. Smail)
Maggie Mucklebackit (C. Robb)
Jenny Caxon (J. Galloway)

Children of Southern District School were the players and they processed on foot.

Scene VIII. In the Kitchen of Milnewood from Old Mortality, 1679

This scene contains the characters of Mause Headrigg (played by Fay Black), her son Cuddie Headrigg (James Lamond), the housekeeper of Milnewood, Mrs Alison Wilson (Isa Colburn), Old Robin (George McLean) and a maid servant (Bella McGregor). The players took part on foot and came from Central District School in Perth.

Scene IX. Characters from Guy Mannering, late 18th Century

This scene from the second Waverley novel (first published 1815) had five players from Western District School in Perth. They were Colonel Guy Mannering (played by Peter Selby); Meg Merrilees (Jean Gilchrist); Dominie Sampson (Harry Jenkins); Dandie Dinmont (Grahame Martin) and Dick Hatteraick (Richard Murray). The children took part in the procession on foot.

Scene X. Tournament Scene from Ivanhoe, England in 1194

Scott’s novel was first published in 1819. Taking part in the tableau which features archery were children from Kinoull School playing the parts of: the Black Knight (played by Robert Christie); King John (John Murray); Ivanhoe (Alex. Hutcheson); Rowena (Margaret Dow); Knight Templar (James Reid); Saracen Man-At-Arms (Philip Duncan); Palmer (Wm. Macrae); Pages (Ruby King and Isobel Taylor); and a Lady of the Court (Muriel Hutcheson). The children were on foot, so any elements of performance would have been limited.

Scene XI. Characters from The Fortunes of Nigel, early 17th Century

This tableau contains only three players all from Cherrybank School; these were the Scottish Nobleman, Lord Glenvarloch (played by Betty Anderson); George Heriot, a Goldsmith to the King (Mary McNab) and Peg Ramsay (Grace Cow). It is not known if any aspects of performance took place.

Scene XII. Characters from Rob Roy, 1715

Three characters from Scott’s novel—famously set against the backdrop of the Jacobite rebellion and first published in 1817–take part in a scene including Rob Roy (played by Edwards McCann), his wife Helen (Cathie Leighton) and Baillie Nicol Jarvie (Bertie Davidson). The organising institution was St Ninian’s Episcopal School. The school pupils processed on foot.

Scene XIII .Characters from Ivanhoe, England in 1194

This scene revisits Robin Hood and was organised by St John’s RC School; the players took part in the procession on foot. Besides Robin (played by John Conaboy), the characters included Friar Tuck (Francis Moore), King Richard (Thomas Ribbons), Rowena (Frances Edwards) and Rebecca (Helen Smart).

Scene XIV. Walter Raleigh Casts his Cloak before Queen Elizabeth, 1575

Playing in this iconic scene which was depicted in Scott's novel Kenilworth (first published 1821) were 11 pupils from the higher school of Perth Academy as follows:

Queen Elizabeth (played by Jessie Young)
Lord Hunsdon (Allan Douglas)
Walter Raleigh (George Stockley)
Ladies in attendance (Frances Christie and Jean Sinclair)
Halbadiers (John Darling and John Stewart)
Pages (Frances Valentine, Helen Laidlaw, Sheena McFarland & Margaret Tainsh).

Their tableau was enacted on a lorry.

Scene XV. Tom Purdie Brings a Poacher to Sir Walter Scott, c. 1820

Rather than depicting a scene from a novel, this scene portrays a section of narrative from Lockhart’s memoir of his father-in-law, Sir Walter Scott, in which Scott was described as strolling through the woods at Abbotsford with his pet hound, Maida. His gamekeeper, Tom Purdie, then presents a young poacher he has just caught red-handed. The poacher is accompanied by his weeping sister. Scott was said to be amused by this turn of events as Purdie had himself begun his career as a poacher. The scene was played by the lower school of Perth Academy and enacted atop a lorry. Sir Walter was played by Patrick Hope, Tom Purdie by Ian McBarnet, the poacher by William Parnell and his sister by James Forfar.

Scene XVI. St Valentine’s Morn from The Fair Maid of Perth, late 14th Century

Three main characters appeared in this tableau which was performed atop a lorry. The parts of Catherine Glover, the Fair Maid of Perth (played by Miss Helen Butters), Simon Glover (Mr J.G. Flight) and Hal o’ the Wynd (Mr Ian Hamilton) were all members of Perth Academy’s F.P. Club. The scene depicted the Fair Maid coming upon Hal asleep on a chair; he is awaiting her so that she might choose him as her valentine for that year. The Fair Maid’s father watches this scene with amusement from a doorway. Several other characters from the novel accompanied the tableau; these were: the Gleewoman (Miss Jean Clark); the Duke of Rothesay (Mr Richard Storey); Oliver Proudfute (Mr A.K. Allan); Conachar (Mr Eris Tiltson); Sir Patrick Charteris (Mr Adam I.S. Duncan) and Father Clement (Mr James Herd).

Scene XVIII. Combat Scene between Rhoderick Dhu and Fitz James, c. 1530s

In this scene from the long poem The Lady of the Lake (first published 1810) King James V of Scotland, who is disguised as the character James Fitz James (played by Alister Wightman), encounters the renegade Rhoderick Dhu (Sydney Smith) who is a Highland Chief. In the sword fight, the King is at first beaten, then rallies when Rhoderick swoons as he is about to stab the King with a dagger. The King spares the life of Rhoderick. Also appearing in the scene are Ellen of Loch Katrine’s Isle (Thos. Fraser) and a collection of Clansmen (G. Calder, J. Martin, W. Shepherd and J. Scott). All characters were played by members of Perth and District Boy Scouts. The drama took place atop a vehicle.

Scene XIX. A Highlander from Clan Quhele Appeals to Harry Gow for a Suit of Armour from the Fair Maid of Perth, late 14th Century

The action of this tableau, which took place on a moving vehicle, enacts a part of the narrative of the Fair Maid wherein an arranged fight between two quarrelling clans (Clan Quhele and Clan Chattan) is being organised; this is arranged to take place in Perth as the King, Robert III, is in residence in the city. When the clans arrive for the fight, the sides are unevenly matched by one man. The Perth City Armourer, Harry Gow (played by Jack Ross), supplies a suit of armour so that the battle may proceed. The Highlander was played by George Cubitt and other attending clansmen by James Cowie and William Stark. The tableau took place on a vehicle and all players were members of Perth and District Boy Scouts.

Scene XX. The Duel between Rashleigh and Osbaldistone from Rob Roy, 1715

This was a further tableau enacted by Perth and District Boy Scouts, which took place atop a lorry. In the scene Rob Roy (played by J. Robertson) intervenes to bring a dual between the ‘impetuous, arrogant’ Rashleigh (R. Millar) and the ‘gentle, well-mannered’ Osbaldistone (C. Robertson) to an end. The two are cousins and both are in love with Lady Diana Vernon (J. Bell).

Scene XXI. The Meeting of the Knight of the Leopard and Edith Plantagenet from The Talisman, late 12th Century

This scene from the novel (published 1825) sees Sir Kenneth of Scotland otherwise known as the Knight of the Leopard (played by Miss Mary Gregor) in Palestine during the third crusade; while there, he comes upon a procession of nuns and recognises one of them as the English princess, Edith Plantagenet (Miss A.S. Russell). As the nuns pass by him, Edith takes a rose from under her robes and drops the flower at the feet of the knight. Members of Perth (City Division) Girl Guides played all these parts plus those of nuns (Misses Ferguson, Duthie and Smith) and pages (Misses Lafferty and Montgomery).

Scene XXII. Jeanie Deans Pleading with the Queen from Heart of Midlothian, 1730s

This tableau was enacted by four members of Perth Girls’ Guildry and depicted a popular scene from The Heart of Midlothian (first published 1818). The character of Jeanie Deans (played by Annie Kilgour) has walked from Edinburgh to London to plead with the Queen for a pardon for her sister who has been condemned to death for child murder. The Duke of Argyle (Jemima Davidson) and a lady-in-waiting, Lady Suffolk (Jessie Malcolm), arrange a meeting with the monarch. In the scene, which took place on a vehicle, Queen Caroline (Nessie Mackay) is seen to grant a pardon after hearing a plea from Jeanie.

Scene XXIV. St Valentine’s Eve from The Fair Maid of Perth, late 14th Century

In this scene, the dastardly Duke of Rothesay (played by Jack Conner) leads a party of courtiers on ‘high revelry’—attempting to enter, by means of a ladder, the bedroom of the Fair Maid. Hal o’ the Wynd (Andrew Dewar) comes to the rescue and wounds three of the nobles, cutting off the hand of Sir John Ramorny (Albert Fyfe) who is the Duke's Master of Horse. Other parts were: the Fair Maid’s brother Simon Glover (Dan Campbell), Oliver Proudfute (James Jer), two unnamed noblemen (John Williamson and John Rannie) and the Fair Maid of Perth (Robt. Drysdale). All taking part were members of the Perth Battalion of the Boys’ Brigade. Exact details of the scene have not been described in available texts but the action took place upon a moving vehicle.

Scene XXV. The Meeting of the Black Dwarf, 1708

This tableau from the novel The Black Dwarf (first published 1816) had three characters: the Dwarf (played by Robert J. Stewart), the Laird of Earnscliff (Stanley S. Summers) and Hobbie Elliot (Alex. M. Wilkie). All players were members of the Perth Battalion of the Boys’ Brigade. The background to this story is the act of Union and Jacobite unrest subsequent to this. The Laird and his tenant, Hobbie, are returning from a shooting expedition; they cross an isolated moor where they encounter the dwarf. In the scene enacted on board a lorry within the procession, The Laird restrains a terrified Hobbie from shooting the dwarf.

Scene XXVI. Robin Hood Dines with King Richard from Ivanhoe, late 12th century

This scene enacts the meeting between the outlaw Robin Hood (played by Campbell Jack) and King Richard (David Crockart, Jnr). The tableau was also done by members of the Perth Battalion of the Boys’ Brigade and again took place on a moving vehicle. Others taking part were: Friar Tuck (Alex Mill) and two ‘Merry Men’ (Walter Borthwick and Harris Thomson).

Scene XXVII. Meeting of Catherine and Conachar on Kinnoull Hill from The Fair Maid of Perth, late 14th century

Enacted by the Guildry Incorporation of Perth, this scene contains five main characters including the Fair Maid (played by Miss Stewart), Conachar (John Littlejohn), Father Clement (R. MacDonald) and 'an Elder Highlander' (Lambert Smith); also taking part were five unnamed 'Highlanders' (A.M. McLean, James Bell, R.H. Sturrock, R. Mitchell and T. Redpath).19 The drama is a key scene from the novel where the Fair Maid flees the city in order to inform the priest, Father Clement, that he is in danger. She has also arranged to meet her father's apprentice, Conachar, who will escort the priest to safety. Suddenly, the five highland warriors appear and surround the two, and Conachar, dressed in the garb of the Chief of Clan Quhele, springs 'like a roebuck from a cliff of considerable height' and lands in front of her. Conachar offers to escort the Fair Maid and her father along with the priest into hiding, but she declines and the scene shows the two bidding farewell to one another during which the Maid allows Conachar to kiss her hand. This complicated scene took place on a lorry within the procession.

Scene XXVIII. The Duchess of Buccleuch Gives Audience to the Last Minstrel from

The Lay of the Last Minstrel, 16th Century

The Perth Branch of the National Council of Women took charge of this tableau which contained eight players; on board a lorry, it enacted a scene from the long poem Lay of the last Minstrel (first published 1805) which depicts a Border feud. The players were, the Duchess (played by Miss Smythe of Methven), Duenna (Mrs Smail), a Harper (Miss Katherine Briggs) a Minstrel's Boy (George Wilson), a Page (Miss Jean Marshall) and three Ladies in Waiting (Miss Elspeth Stirling, Miss Aldyth Martin and Miss Jean McLeod). A short passage from the introduction to the poem was enacted. This is quoted in the programme as follows:

But while he poured the lengthened tale
The Minstrel's voice began to fail.
Full slyly smiled the observant page
And gave the withered hand of age
A goblet, crowned with mighty wine.
He raised the silver cup on high,
And while the big drop filled his eye,
Prayed God to bless the Duchess long
And all who cheered a son of song.

It is not known whether this verse was recited during the tableau.

Scene XXIX. Meg Merrilees and the Expulsion of the Gipsies [sic] from Guy Mannering, late 18th Century

This tableau from the novel first published in 1815 is a highly iconic scene in which the colourful character of Meg Merrilees (played by Mrs Milne) calls down a curse on the Laird of Ellangowan who has evicted local gypsies from their encampment on his lands. In the scene, the gypsies are seen walking dejectedly away from their camp, with Meg in the rear carrying a willow wand. The majority of the cast of around 30 players were women and girls, all dressed as gypsies; the episode was organised by and involved the Perth and Kinross Federation of Scottish Women's Rural Institutes. A donkey and cart were part of the tableau.20

Scene XXX. Lady Peveril Welcomes the Roundheads to Martindale Castle from Peveril of the Peak, 17th Century

Based on a scene from one of Scott's Waverley novels, which was perhaps less well-known by the twentieth century, this tableau was organised by members of the Scottish Girls' Friendly Society and involved seven female players. Lady Peveril (played by Ruby Rutherford) is seen receiving a party of Roundheads in an act of reconciliation following the restoration of the monarchy. She is described as wearing 'a chaplet made of oak leaves interspersed with lilies; the former being the emblem of the King's preservation in the Royal Oak, and the later [sic] of his happy Restoration.' Other parts in the tableau were Julian, the son of Lady Peveril (played by Kitty Robertson), Major Bridgenorth a Roundhead (Peggy Maconnachie), Alice, daughter of the Major (Alice Young), Lady Peveril's attendants (Helen Calder and Marie Wyllie, and a Roundhead (Jean Calder). It was performed on a moving vehicle.

Scene XXXI. The Vindication of Rebecca from Ivanhoe, late 12th Century

This dramatic scene from one of Scott's most famous novels (first published 1820) depicted Ivanhoe (played by C. Crammond) coming before the judgement of the Templars having slain the knight Bois-Guilbert in defence of Rebecca (Miss J. Aitken) who has been accused of witchcraft. The Grand Master of the Templars (W. Steele) gives judgement that 'Ivanhoe has won the battle in a fair fight and that Rebecca is free and guiltless.' In addition to the main players, the following took part: a Herald (R. Pirnie), Friar Tuck (J. Maclaughlan) and two Templars (P. McNab and H. Buchan). The tableau was the work of the Red Cross Society Voluntary Aid.Detachments. It is not known if the players were all female. This was the final tableau which took place on a vehicle within the procession.

Scene XXXVI. A Dramatisation of The Fair Maid of Perth, late 14th Century

There were around 60 players and musicians taking part in this drama which was played in the North Inch Park at the conclusion of the pageant procession. All were members of local amateur dramatic or musical societies. The characters included were as follows:

  • Catherine Glover, the Fair Maid of Perth (played by Miss Mary Shields)
  • Simon Glover, Deacon of the Glover Incorporation (Mr Fred J. Forbes)
  • Conachar, Simon Glover's apprentice and heir to the chieftainship of the Clan Kay [also called Clan Quhele] (Mr John K, Cross)
  • Duke of Rothesay, son of Robert III (Mr Harold Moncrieff)
  • Dorothy, Simon Glover's Housekeeper (Miss Ella S Boswell & Miss Hamilton Smith)
  • Henry Gow, an armourer known as Hal o' the Wynd (Mr John Mitchell)
  • Oliver Proudfute, a bonnet maker (Mr Philip James)
  • Baillie Craigdallie, Perth's senior Baillie (Mr Robert Middlemas)
  • Dwining, an apothecary (Mr Donald Paton)
  • King Robert III of Scotland (Mr Peter Fettes)
  • Prior Anselm of the Blackfriars (Mr Tom Young)
  • Usher (Mr Robert Prosser)
  • Duke of Albany, brother of Robert III (Mr George Alexander)
  • Earl of March (Mr Bernard Holt)
  • Glee-Maiden, a French strolling musician (Miss Mary Stuart)
  • Earl of Douglas (Mr William C. D. Jolly)
  • Bonthron, attendant of Sir John Ramorny (Mr Robert H. Sturrock)
  • Host of the St Crispin Inn (Mr James Harvey)
  • Blacksmith (Mr Fred Coupar)
  • Butcher (Mr Sam Small)
  • Magdalen Proudfute, bonnet maker's wife (Miss Aldyth Martin)
  • Mr Patrick Charteris, Provost of Perth (Mr Henry Walker)
  • Earl of Errol, High Constable of Perth (Mr A. Cairnie Millar)
  • Earl of Crawford (Mr David Fettes)
  • Eviot of Balhousie, Steward to Sir John Ramorny (Mr Donald Paton)
  • Chief of Clan Chatton [sic] (Mr James Lee)
  • Torquil of the Oak, Conachar's foster father (Mr Robert Sturrock)
  • Citizens, Monks, Mummers, Penitents, Clansmen of Chattan and Kay, etc (Misses Nettie Bell, Belle Brough, Edith Coull, Peg Dickie, Ellen M. Heggie, Messrs A. Bruce J. Smith, A Morrison, D. Stratton, A. G. Donaldson, R. Kittles, J. Dingwall, J. Niven, J. Chalmers, J. Knowles, D. Rutherford, L. Suttie, E. Robertson, J. Coull, and A. Ramsay.)

Also, members of Perth and District Pipe band and the trumpeters of Perth Silver Band.

The play was in four acts with scenes taking place in the interior of the Fair Maid's house, at the Royal Court set up in the Blackfriars Monastery, on a Perth Street, in the interior of St John's Church and at the North Inch, with the latter being the setting for the clan fight. There were only four women in principal parts.

Finale. Battle of the Clans, Last Item in 'Programme of Displays'

This was a re-enactment of the denouement from Scott's novel, The Fair Maid of Perth, in which thirty members each from Clan Quhele and Clan Chattan settle their longstanding differences on the battlefield. The clans were played by Perth Academy Cadet Corps and Perth and District Boy Scouts' Association.

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Robert III (d. 1406) king of Scots
  • Scott, Sir Walter (1771–1832) poet and novelist
  • Mary [Mary Stewart] (1542–1587) queen of Scots
  • John (1167–1216) king of England, and lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and of Aquitaine, and count of Anjou
  • Richard I [called Richard Coeur de Lion, Richard the Lionheart] (1157–1199) king of England, duke of Normandy and of Aquitaine, and count of Anjou

Musical production

Music was live and included: Perth Silver Band, the Band of the [Perth] Depot, the Black Watch, and Perth and District Pipe Band. All took part in the procession. In addition, the Silver band and Pipe Band played as part of the performance of the Fair Maid. There was singing by soloists during the performance of the Fair Maid, but details are scanty: however, an item in the local press does state that the 'Glee Maiden performed a song composed by Mr D.T. Yacamini, LRAM'.

Newspaper coverage of pageant

Perth Advertiser
People’s Journal
Dundee Evening Telegraph
The Scotsman

Book of words


A script for the dramatisation of The Fair Maid of Perth has not been recovered.

Other primary published materials

  • Sir Walter Scott Centenary Perth Pageant Saturday 24th Sept. 1932, Souvenir Programme Price 3d (Perth, 1932).

References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • One copy each of the souvenir programme is held by: A.K Bell Library, Perth (shelfmark: L.3945094132), the National Library of Scotland (shelfmark: PB5.208.963/48) and Perth Museum.

Sources used in preparation of pageant

  • Lockhart, John Gibson. Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart. Edinburgh, 1837-38.
  • Scott, Sir Walter. In particular, The Fair Maid of Perth and Ivanhoe.

Lockhart's biography was the standard text used in reference to the life of Scott and it almost certainly influenced the drama included in the pageant in respect of Scott's life.


Described as a 'red letter day in the city' and as 'a striking climax' to a weeklong anniversary celebration, there can be no doubt, that for a city the size of Perth this was an extremely successful pageant.22 In 1932, towns and cities across Scotland had been commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the death of Sir Walter Scott, and, in doing so, all highlighted their own special attachment to him either through his personal life history or through aspects of his writing, Perth was no different. However, among Scott's voluminous writing, the novel The Fair Maid of Perth was one of the high points as a result of its phenomenal popularity in the years following its publication in 1828. It was also one of the last books published before his death and this too may have increased its longevity. At any rate, Perth continued to take great interest in this particular historical fiction which made use of the real historical landscape of the city. The Fair Maid is set at the end of the fourteenth century during the reign of Robert III when the King had set up court in the city, and some parts of Perth that were described in the book still existed. Indeed, the battle of the clans, which is the dramatic climax of the story, was set in the very place where the pageant was performed, with five centuries separating this fictional clash from its dramatic re-enactment for the pageant.

This was something of a hybrid pageant, having some characteristics of the classic gala day that was so popular in early twentieth-century Scotland and evident in the sporting display and grand parade which took place that day in the North Inch Park. However, it also had strong elements of performance in the various tableaux that were part of the procession and, most especially, in the pageant play that closed the day's events. Indeed, in the original plans for the day, the procession was to have included more elaborate tableau pieces, but these had to be reduced for reasons of both safety and economy.23 Nevertheless, according to the Duke of Atholl who was guest of honour at the pageant, 'each person and each group personally interpreted what they represented'.24

On the day, the procession left from the Scott Monument in the city's South Inch Park; from there it wound its way through the main streets of the city centre until its arrival in the North Inch, a distance of roughly half a mile. Within the North Inch, the day's events then began with the parade processing in front of the audience, beginning with a tableau scene of Sir Walter Scott at work in his study; it is presumed that this scene was depicted atop a moving vehicle. Mary Queen of Scots, in a scene from Scott's novel The Abbot, followed on from this. Mary is illustrated during a time of imprisonment at Lochleven Castle; this and the following thirteen scenes were all the work of various schools in Perth from the public and private sectors, and including a Roman Catholic school—indicating that there was a will to include representatives from all sections of Perth society. Some of the schools were single-sex institutions and, in a few of the tableaux, pupils played characters of the opposite sex, including one valiant boy, Edward Robertson from Balhousie Boys' School, who played the Lady of the Lake from Scott's poem of the same name.25 Some scenes probably had little dramatic action as the children were on foot. It seems that—even though the performers provided their own costumes—the budget could not stretch to the provision of suitable vehicles.26 From scenes XVI to scene XXVII, different youth organisations then took part with individual portrayals from Scott's works in which the tableaux were shown on moving vehicles; scene XX, for example, depicts a duel between two characters from the novel Rob Roy, carried out by the Perth and District Boy Scouts. Again, a boy played a female character, in this case Lady Diana Vernon, the love interest of the novel. A number of civic organisations then provided tableaux that were more elaborate and contained a larger number of characters; these again were performed atop lorries. Taking part were such organisations as the Guildry of Perth, but most were the work of women's voluntary societies, such as the Scottish Women's Rural Institutes.

A diverse range of Scott's novels and poems provided inspiration for the tableaux; a few, such as Peveril of the Peak, are now relatively forgotten works and even in the early 1930s were probably not well read. In the main, however, the most used texts that inspired the pageant's scenes would have been familiar from within the school curriculum, at the very least. Those such as the Lady of the Lake, which was used in scenes V, XVIII and XXVI, were almost certainly read at school. Beyond this, the most used texts were Ivanhoe (scenes X, XIII and XXXI) and Rob Roy (in scenes XII and XX), and by 1932 these had certainly entered other types of popular media such as comic books, radio dramas and cinema. However, by far and away the signature text of the pageant was the novel The Fair Maid of Perth. This was used within four of the processional tableaux. It was also the closing item of the pageant procession as a fully performed play, and it featured as the finale of the whole day's events with a re-enactment of the part of the novel that depicts a battle between two warring clans.

Once the procession had made its way past the grandstand, the play was performed in front of the 'platform party' that included the Lord Provost and invited guests; those seated in the grandstand would also have had a good view of the play, with others in standing positions perhaps having less access to the full drama. As well as having local resonance, the story of the Fair Maid had everything going for it as a ripping yarn: royal protagonists and intrigue at court, dashing but flawed heroes, a scheming and ruthless villain in the shape of the King's son, the Duke of Rothesay, who by the end gets his come-uppance, a central love interest in the character of the Fair Maid, Catherine Glover, and, finally, the drama of an all-out battle. The play adapted from the novel and written especially for the Scott commemoration in Perth had run every night in the Perth Theatre to sell-out audiences before being performed for the final time in the pageant arena. This allowed many more people to see this highly successful dramatisation, which—although the charge of amateur actors—was said to have produced a performance that 'would have done credit to a first-class professional company.'27 Indeed, the local newspaper purported to quote theatregoers as commenting that 'a professional company would not have done it so well for they would have lacked the local patriotism and local atmosphere and enthusiasm...'28

The play was the culmination of the highly theatrical procession but it was not the final item of the day. A further programme of displays of country dancing and 'physical drill' took place. While these were commonly features within Scottish gala days, certain elements of dramatic interpretation that reflected the works of Scott were included. For example, there were performances of sword dances, which were an element of Scottish folklore in which Scott had taken an interest.29 Moreover, the finale to the entire day was a re-enactment of the Battle of the Clans from the novel The Fair Maid of Perth wherein local boys dressed in kilts and, brandishing swords, 'realistically' entered into the spirit of the fight but were said to have looked 'cheerful' while doing so!30

A local newspaper stated that:

Perth is particularly suited to the adequate display of a pageant of this kind and the fact that it was the first occasion upon which such an event had been staged helped—if any help was necessary—to increase interest. Pageants have been condemned in many parts as uninteresting and tedious; doubtless if they were repeated too often they might pall, but it will be generally conceded that Saturday's procession and display formed one of the most interesting events in the recent history of the Fair City.31

Whether this was a subtle jibe, comparing Perth's success at celebrating the centenary with Edinburgh's more lavish indoor events, can only be a matter of speculation. The city of Perth certainly felt that it had done itself proud and that it had honoured the memory of Scott in fitting style.


  1. ^ ‘Perth Schools and the Scott Celebrations’, People’s Journal, 10 September 1932, 1.
  2. ^ ‘Scott Celebrations’, People’s Journal, 17 September 1932, 1.
  3. ^ 'Successful First Performance of Week's Presentation', Perth Advertiser, 21 September 1932, 5.
  4. ^ ‘Scott Celebrations’, People’s Journal, 17 September 1932, 1.
  5. ^ 'Successful First Performance of Week's Presentation', Perth Advertiser, 21 September 1932, 5.
  6. ^ Sir Walter Scott Centenary Perth Pageant Saturday 24th Sept. 1932, Souvenir Programme Price 3d, (Perth, 1932) 13.
  7. ^ ‘The Scott Centenary: Extensive Perth Celebrations’, The Scotsman, 13 September 1932, 7.
  8. ^ ‘Balance from Perth Celebrations’, Evening Telegraph (Dundee), 23 February 1933, 1.
  9. ^ ‘Balance from Perth Celebrations’, Evening Telegraph (Dundee), 23 February 1933, 1.
  10. ^ ‘Scott Celebrations’, People’s Journal, 17 September 1932, 1.
  11. ^ ‘Scott Pageantry at Perth’, Dundee Courier, 26 September 1932, 4.
  12. ^ Sir Walter Scott Centenary Perth Pageant Saturday 24th Sept. 1932, Souvenir Programme Price 3d, 17.
  13. ^ Advertisement, People’s Journal, 12 September 1932, 2.
  14. ^ Sir Walter Scott Centenary Perth Pageant Saturday 24th Sept. 1932, Souvenir Programme Price 3d, 17.
  15. ^ ‘Scott Celebrations’, People’s Journal, 17 September 1932, 1.
  16. ^ Sir Walter Scott Centenary Perth Pageant Saturday 24th Sept. 1932, Souvenir Programme Price 3d, 13.
  17. ^ Unless otherwise stated, information and quotations in the synopsis are from Sir Walter Scott Centenary Perth Pageant Saturday 24th Sept. 1932, Souvenir Programme Price 3d (Perth, 1932).
  18. ^ Dundee Courier 26th September 1932, 4.
  19. ^ All named in Sir Walter Scott Centenary Perth Pageant Saturday 24th Sept. 1932, Souvenir Programme Price 3d, 28.
  20. ^ Photograph of the characters in the Perth Advertiser 28th September 1932, 1.
  21. ^ 'Successful First Performance of Week's Presentation', Perth Advertiser, 21 September 1932, 5.
  22. ^ 'Duke of Atholl's Impressions', People's Journal, 1 October 1932, 13.
  23. ^ 'Perth Schools and the Scott Celebrations', People's Journal, 10 September 1932, 1.
  24. ^ From an interview given to the press by the Duke and quoted in People's Journal, 1 October 1932, 13.
  25. ^ Sir Walter Scott Centenary Perth Pageant Saturday 24th Sept. 1932, Souvenir Programme Price 3d, 19.
  26. ^ 'Perth Schools and the Scott Celebrations', 1.
  27. ^ People's Journal, 1 October 1932, 13.
  28. ^ People's Journal, 1 October 1932, 13.
  29. ^ The best-known example of such a dance being described within Scott's work occurs in his novel The Pirate (first published 1821 and re-edited to include a description of the Papa Stour Sword dance in 1831).
  30. ^ Caption to a photograph of the battle in Perth Advertiser, 28 September 1932, 1.
  31. ^ Perth Advertiser, 28 September 1932, 12.

How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘Sir Walter Scott Centenary Perth Pageant’, The Redress of the Past,