Folk Dance Pageant

Pageant type


Produced by the English Folk Dance Society, Winchester District

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Place: Ovington Park (Winchester) (Winchester, Hampshire, England)

Year: 1929

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 2


6 July 1929 at 2.55 and 7pm

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Dancing in the Pageant [Pageant Master]: Bell, Michael
  • Conductor: Ronald Biggs
  • Costume Assistant: Barbara Drummond
  • Costume Procurement: Miss Keswick

Names of executive committee or equivalent


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

Names of composers


Numbers of performers


Financial information


Object of any funds raised


Linked occasion


Audience information

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Associated events

  • Concert
  • Tea
  • General County Dancing
  • General Modern Dancing
  • Fortune Telling, Side Shows, Houp-la, Treasure Hunt, Bowling for the Pig

Pageant outline

Period I. Henry IV. 1400

  • Horn Dance
  • Sword Dance
  • Haste to the Wedding
  • The Old Mole, Playford
  • The Flowers of Edinburgh

[Performed by dancers from Preston Candovers, West Tisted and Portsmouth]

Period II. Elizabeth. 1570

  • Processional Morris
  • Morris Reel
  • The Fool’s Jig
  • Galopede
  • Epping Forest, Playford
  • The Ribbon Dance

[Dancers from Ovington, Itchen Stoke, Twyford, Alton and Petersfield]

Period III. Charles II. 1660

  • Children’s Singing Game
  • Garland Dance
  • Lads A’ Bunchum
  • Gathering Peascods
  • Lilli Bullero
  • Newcastle

[Dancers from Winchester, Portsmouth and Halesmere]

Period IV. Present Day

  • Processional Morris
  • Flowers of Edinburgh
  • Morris Jig
  • ‘I’ll go and enlist a sailor’
  • The Triumph
  • Hey Boys Up Go We
  • The Lark in the Morn
  • The Cuckoo
  • Sellengers’ Round
[Dancers from Four Marks, West Tisted, Winchester, Petersfield and Portsmouth]

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Henry IV [known as Henry Bolingbroke] (1367–1413) king of England and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine
  • Elizabeth I (1533–1603) queen of England and Ireland
  • Charles II (1630–1685) king of England, Scotland, and Ireland

Musical production

  • All songs collected or transcribed by Cecil J. Sharp.
  • Music Performed by the Petersfield Quintette, augmented by String Players from Winchester and further woodwind.

Newspaper coverage of pageant


Book of words

None known.

Other primary published materials

  • Folk Dance Pageant and Old English Fair. Np., 1929.

References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Copy of Programme in Hampshire Archives, Winchester, Reference 220M85W/21

Sources used in preparation of pageant



Folk song and dance was often used in historical pageants, though this is the only pageant devoted exclusively to it. The English folk revival—spearheaded by Cecil Sharp, Mary Neal and others—supplied pageanteers with an appropriately English heritage of song and dance with which to enhance their productions. From the Edwardian period on, many pageants featured morris and maypole dancing, folk songs of various kinds and more general scenes of rustic merrymaking (such elements frequently accompanied Tudor and Elizabethan episodes). Yet this was an unusual pageant in that it focused exclusively on the English folk tradition, telling the story of the development of English Folk Dance from the fifteenth century to the present. It was produced by the Winchester branch of the English Folk Dance Society, with accompanying folk music from the Petersfield Quintette. It was as much a fair as a pageant, and was on a much smaller scale than the vast Winchester National Pageant (1908). It was staged with the avowed intention of encouraging its spectators to get involved in folk dance (and song) themselves. The foreword to the programme made this explicit:

In holding this Pageant we ask you to take a more personal share in it than a mere spectator would. Our endeavour is that you shall get the rhythms in your feet, and the tunes in your head, until you long to be doing it yourself, and will not rest until you are; however entertaining it may be to watch, it is twenty times more delightful to do. England has a heritage of Folk Music and Dance unrivalled by that of any other nation, but she has not always been conscious of its worth or careful of its fate. Until Cecil Sharp came into the field her apathy had become settled that our songs and dances were like to die with the father without ever reaching the son. That they are now sung and danced in every English village and town, is entirely due to his zeal and discernment. The English Folk Dance Society, which he founded in 1911, exists to carry on his work of making the songs and dances common property and a vital part of our national culture, at the same time keeping a watchful eye that their traditional characteristics remain unchanged.1

Also evident here is the patriotic—one might say nationalistic—agenda of the Folk Song and Dance revival, and the status of Sharp as the still-dominant guiding inspiration for the movement. The insistence that the ‘traditional characteristics’ of folk song and dance remained unsullied was very much the line Sharp took (some would say imposed) on the movement; it is a line that has caused some controversy since.


1. ^ Mrs Arthur Hoare, ‘Foreword’, Folk Dance Pageant and Old English Fair (Np, 1929), Hampshire Archives, Winchester Reference 220M85W/21

How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘Folk Dance Pageant’, The Redress of the Past,