Box Fete and Pageant
Place: Hazlebury Manor (Hazlebury) (Hazlebury, Wiltshire, England)
Number of performances: 2
18 July 1925 at 4 and 6pm
[Box was the name of the Parish]
Name of pageant master and other named staff
- Pageant Master: Foster, George
- Organizers: Mr and the Hon Mrs
Shaw-Mellor of Box House and Mr George Kidston of Hazelbury Manor
Miss Chart and Mrs Inkpen
- Historical Help: Mr. H.A. Bruett and Mr
A. Shaw Mellor
Patrons included Lord Meuthen, The Archbishop of Cape Town, Capt. Montgomery Campbell, and Lady Grant Duff.
Names of executive committee or equivalent
- Chairman: Rev. George Foster
- Hon. Secretary: Mr J. Browning
- Assistant Hon. Secretaries: H.A. Bruett
and S.A. McIlwrath
- Hon. Treasurer: Mr F. Scott
- Mrs G. Foster
- Mr A Shaw Mellor
- Chairman: Rev. Vere Avery
- Rev. George Foster
- G.K. Kidson
- K.A. McIlwrath
- A. Shaw Mellor
- Mrs Foster
- Mrs Kidston
Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)
- Foster, George
- Foster, Kate
Names of composers
Numbers of performers100 - 200
The Fete and Pageant raised £245
Object of any funds raised
The Pageant raised funds for the church and sought to pay for the alteration and improvement of Bingham Hall
Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest
[This included a 6d (3d children) admission to the Fete]
- A fete including a number of stalls, raffles
and speeches, as well as a tug-of-war match.
- Cosham Town Band played at 2.30pm to
- The Rev. George Foster gave a humorous
and musical entertainment at 5.30pm.
- The Fete ended with a dance.
Episode I. The Founding of the Roman Villa at Box, 3rd Century AD
The arrival of a high Roman official in Box and the choice of the site for his villa and dedication of a temple.
Episode II. St Aldhelm and the Glove
St Aldhelm foretells the prosperity that will come to Box from its stone quarries. The Glove of Aldhelm is the Trade-Mark of the Bath and Portland Stone Firms.
Episode III. The Manor of Hazelbury in the 14th Century.
Depictions of the various owners of the manor, which changed hands a number of times. The arrival of Alexander le Peyntour and the Lady Isolde.
Episode IV. Chapel Plaister in the 15th Century
1) The arrival of some pilgrims at the Chapel, while children are dancing on the ‘Play-stow’.
2) A second group of pilgrims, who are carrying a sick child to the well of St Thomas a Becket at Box. Both groups are received by the monks.
Box V. The Box Revels in the 18th Century.
A depiction of country dancing and the visit of visitors from Bath to the rustic village to taste the waters at the spa.
Key historical figures mentioned
- Aldhelm [St Aldhelm] (d. 709/10) abbot
of Malmesbury, bishop of Sherborne, and scholar
Music by Mr. Louis Field’s Orchestra. Music performed included:
- National Anthem
- ‘Here’s a Health Unto His Majesty’
Newspaper coverage of pageant
Book of words
- None known
Other primary published materials
- Box Fete and Pageant. Np, 1925. [Price 1s]
References in secondary literature
Archival holdings connected to pageant
- Images of the programme along with cuttings and further information at ‘Hazelbury Pageant: George and Kate Foster’, Box People and Places, accessed 13 December 2016, http://www.boxpeopleandplaces.co.uk/hazelbury-pageant-1925.html
Sources used in preparation of pageant
In late 1924, the Rev. George Foster and his wife, Kate, moved from Redland Chapel in Bristol to the Parish of Box, a few miles northeast of Bath in Wiltsh ire. In the few months since their arrival, the two had put on two Christmas plays, a revue in February 1925 entitled ‘Some Rubbish’, as well as a passion play, ‘The Only Son’, written by Kate and performed in Bingham Hall on Good Friday 1925. Already, by March 1925, the vicar had formed the Box Guild of Players.1 As the Wiltshire Times declared, ‘The coming of the Rev. G. and Mrs. Foster to Box has been marked within a very short time not only by a quickening interest in parochial affairs among all sections of parishioners, but an interest has been revived in the history of the village, and the episode in history leading to the development of its staple industry, the stone trade’.2
A Pageant held to raise money for the church was thus the next logical step, despite a general reluctance for the money of church pageants to go directly to the church (see entry for the 1908 Gorleston Pageant). The pageant and fete was held in the grounds of Hazlebury Manor, with the blessing of Mr George Kidston, the owner, and was opened by Lady Cecily Goff. The Wiltshire Times praised the siting of the Pageant: ‘overlooking the extensive valley which opens to view surrounding the village of Box and extending away to Bath and beyond, it is truly an outlook to delight the eye with beauty, and interest the mind in its rich historical associations.’3 The Rev. Foster, aware that some people were reluctant to part with money that would go straight into the church funds, declared that the true spirit of the venture was in bringing the Parish together: ‘apart from the money it gave an opportunity for them to meet together in a remarkable and interesting manner. It was delightful to find such a democratic spirit shown by those from the big houses and the small houses, and the village had taken the matter up in splendid style.’4 He praised local efforts at fundraising, with one child selling 189 raffle tickets, and even later performed a musical comedy routine!5
The Pageant and Fete was a resounding success, raising £245 in a single afternoon. A further pageant was held at Easter 1927: this was of a religious nature, depicting the lives of St Joseph of Arimathea and St Augustine, and was watched by more than one thousand people over two days.6 A proposed summer pageant in 1929 was cut short due to illness, and in 1935 the Fosters returned to the Parish of Redland in Bristol7
‘Hazelbury Pageant: George and Kate Foster’, Box People and Places, accessed 13 December 2016, http://www.boxpeopleandplaces.co.uk/hazelbury-pageant-1925.html
Wiltshire Times and Trowbridge Advertiser, 25 July 1925, 8.
How to cite this entry
Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘Box Fete and Pageant’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1398/