Place: Grounds of Wollaston Hall (Wollaston) (Wollaston, Northamptonshire, England)
Number of performances: n/a
5-7 July 1951
Name of pageant master and other named staff
- Producer [Pageant Master]: Snowden, Mrs
- Musical Arrangements by: Mr A. Harris
- Treasurer: MR. S.A. Phillips
- Assistant Producer: D. Frost
- Hon. Secretary: Miss L. Walker
Names of executive committee or equivalent
- Mr J.C.R. Creagh Coen
- Miss I. Walker
- Mrs M.
- Mr C.A. James
- H.W. Attley
- Mr L.WA Rivett
- Mrs B. Bellamy
- Miss M.J.
- Mrs C.A. James
Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)
- Creagh Coen, J.C.R.
Names of composers
Numbers of performers100
The pageant raised £70 9s 9d.
[Funds were augmented with donations from to £10 from the Marquis of Granby Darts competition, £4 2s from the tennis court, and £7 12s 10d from the putting green.]
Object of any funds raised
Proceeds of pageant were nominally in aid of Wollaston and Strixton new playing field fund. In the event, the Pageant and other events raised funds for a new hard tennis court, a slide and ‘ocean wave’ for children’s playground.
1951 Festival of Britain
- Grandstand: Not Known
- Grandstand capacity: n/a
- Total audience: None
Several hundred attended the final performance.
Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest
Act I. 55BC-1139AD
The Roman occupation, William the Conqueror taking lands belonging to Lord Stric and handing them to his niece Judith as a wedding present.
Act II. 1300AD
The coming of the monks and the building and dedication of the church.
Act III. 1400-1660AD
Queen Henrietta’s visit to Wollaston on her way to drink the curing water of Wellingborough’s well. The Cut Throat Lane murder. Roundheads occupying the village and arresting the squire and vicar. The overthrow of the Puritan regime and restoration of Charles II.
Act IV. 1736
The rebuilding of the church in 1736 and a depiction of the main trades of village life.
The growth of business and social activities. A parade of children with placards bearing the names and dates of foundation of businesses and organisations of the parish. Land of Hope and Glory is sung.
Key historical figures mentioned
- William I [known as William the
Conqueror] (1027/8–1087) king of England and duke of Normandy
- Judith of Flanders, duchess of Bavaria
- Henrietta Maria [Princess Henrietta
Maria of France] (1609–1669) queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland, consort
of Charles I
Newspaper coverage of pageant
Book of words
Other primary published materials
References in secondary literature
Archival holdings connected to pageant
Sources used in preparation of pageant
In February 1951, the Northamptonshire Mercury announced that ‘Many Northampton people are wondering—and asking—whether the County town is making a big enough effort to celebrate the Festival of Britain.’ The newspaper proceeded to recount the glories of the 1925 Northampton Pageant, held at Abingdon Park, outlining the episodes and suggesting that such a thing might be accomplished again.1 In an attempt to goad the city out of its apathy, it mentioned that several nearby towns were planning pageants including Daventry (which subsequently cancelled its event due to a lack of local volunteers), Kettering, Rushden, and Wollaston.
These were just a few of the several hundred pageants held across Britain in the Festival year. There was some initial consternation with Wollaston’s venture. Whilst it had been hoped to hold the pageant to coincide with the annual fete in early May, the pageant had not been ready, thus forcing a delay of the fete.2 Nonetheless, the Pageant was held at the beginning of July in the grounds of Wollaston House. Performed to a ‘large audience’, it was deemed by the Northampton Mercury to have been ‘a huge success’: ‘all scenes [were] realistically presented, and the varied costumes reflected credit on all concerned.’3 Each act of the Pageant was humorously framed by a history lesson for schoolchildren: ‘After the class was dismissed one child remained behind apparently asleep, and the incidents in each act were portrayed as a dream by the child.’4 Many pageants at the Festival of Britain were framed with such devices, as with two families of British and American at Dartford, or the ‘Very Ordinary Man’, who passed judgment on the scenes at East Grinstead. The Wollaston Pageant’s framing device simultaneously portrayed history as boring, in the context of school classrooms, and also as coming alive (literally) in the imagination.
The Pageant was successful, attracting several hundred people to the final performance, after which there was a parade of performers and a presentation of gifts to the organisers. It raised a total of £70 9s 9d, which was augmented with donation of 10 from the Marquis of Granby Darts competition, £4 2s from the tennis court, and £7 12s 10d from the putting green. The proceeds, instead of providing a new playing field, were put towards a tennis court and children’s playground, though ‘it was hoped that part of the grant promised by the Ministry of Education to the new playing field would soon be forthcoming.’5
Although hardly on the scale of the Northampton Pageants of 1925 or 1930, the Wollaston Pageant, like a number of smaller pageants held for the Festival of Britain, was certainly a success. By contrast, the slightly more ambitious Rushden Pageant lost £500, suggesting that in the Festival year spectators were unlikely to visit two pageants, and that the overall demand for such events was lower than many organisers had anticipated.
Northampton Mercury, 9 February 1951, 9.
Northampton Mercury, 20 April 1951, 8.
Northampton Mercury, 6 July 1951, 2.
Northampton Mercury, 20 July 1951, 2.
How to cite this entry
Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘Wollaston Pageant’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1371/