Esher Historical Pageant and Fete

Pageant type

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Place: Sandown Park (Esher) (Esher, Surrey, England)

Year: 1932

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 2


17 September 1932, at 2.45pm and 6pm

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Produced by [Pageant Master]: Maybury, Beatrice
  • Musical Director: Ronald Dussek


Arranged by the Esher Amateur Dramatic Society

Names of executive committee or equivalent


  • Chairman: Miss Irene Butler
  • Major Clarke Jervoise
  • Mrs Stoordy and Reginald Walker


Patrons: Alice, Countess of Athlone; Lord Ashcombe; Sir Archibald Boyd-Carpenter, MP for Chertsey

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

Names of composers

  • Phillipps, Montague
  • Dussek, Ronald

Numbers of performers


Financial information


Object of any funds raised

Fundraising to build a village hall

Linked occasion


Audience information

  • Grandstand: Yes
  • Grandstand capacity: n/a
  • Total audience: 4000

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Associated events

  • 4.15pm Sports (including Potato Race, Gretna Green Race, Sack Race, Tie and Cigarette Race, Three Legged Race)
  • 4.30pm Dog Show (the Dog with the Longest/Shortest Tail, Prettiest Dog, Smallest/Oldest/Largest/Fattest/Funniest Dog)
  • 5.45pm Lucky-fete draw
  • 7.15pm Daily Mail Treasure Hunt for £5

Pageant outline

Prologue: Heralds

Episode I. AD 1284. King Edward I Granting His Charter of the Manor of Esher to the Bishop of Winchester.

Edward I and Queen Eleanor summon the Bishop to his court to receive the Royal Charter.

Episode II. Tudor Period

Scene 1 AD 1529. Katherine of Aragon and the Young Princess Mary.

The characters of Henry VIII’s first wife and his daughter, aged 13, are introduced because Wolsey’s dismissal and forced residence at Esher were due to his failure to secure a divorce for the King.

Scene 2. AD 1529. Cardinal Wolsey’s Dismissal and Journey to Esher.

The scene shows the arrival of Mr Norris, a gentleman of the royal bedchamber who, lying, tells Wolsey he is back in favour. In gratitude, Wolsey sends the King his Fool, who has to be forcibly torn from his master.

Scene 3. AD 1530. Henry VIII sends his Physician, Dr. Butts, to Visit Wolsey lying ill at Esher.

Wolsey fell ill at Esher in autumn 1529, and would probably have died there, had he not been given permission to leave after being seen by Dr Butts. The scene shows Dr Butts visiting Wolsey in bed, surrounded by followers including a weeping Thomas Cromwell. The second part of the scene shows Butts reporting to the King and Anne Boleyn at Hampton Court, receiving ‘comfortable words’ which he relays to Wolsey at Esher.

Scene 4 AD 1586. Sir Francis Drake Presents a Bell to Esher Church

The scene shows the presentation of the bell by Drake, his cousin Richard, and seamen. The clergy of Esher received it into their care, but the bell fell into disrepair and was lost. The scene also shows Richard Drake, squire of Esher, visited by Queen Elizabeth at Esher Place. He entertains her with a dance of villagers. Spanish admirals, taken prisoner, are also present.

Episode III. AD 1729. King George IV with Queen Caroline and their family visit the Duke of Newcastle at Claremont, Esher.

The King arrives with a large retinue. There is much dancing, feasting and drinking and the King’s party gets very drunk. The Queen remonstrates with Wentworth about his abstemiousness. Whilst Wentworth remarks that this is to ensure that the coachmen are sober, he is forced to drink at the Queen’s demand.

Episode IV. Jerry Abershaw, highwayman attacks travellers at Esher Inn.

The scene shows the coach changing horses at an Esher inn.

Episode V. AD 1842. Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort visit Claremont

The young Victoria and Albert visiting Claremont a few years after her marriage.

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Edward I (1239–1307) king of England and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine
  • Eleanor [Eleanor of Castile] (1241–1290) queen of England, consort of Edward I
  • Pontoise [Pontissara], John de (c.1240–1304) bishop of Winchester
  • Mary I (1516–1558) queen of England and Ireland
  • Katherine [Catalina, Catherine, Katherine of Aragon] (1485–1536) queen of England, first consort of Henry VIII
  • Wolsey, Thomas (1470/71–1530) royal minister, archbishop of York, and cardinal
  • Henry VIII (1491–1547) king of England and Ireland
  • Cromwell, Thomas, earl of Essex (b. in or before 1485, d. 1540) royal minister
  • Anne [Anne Boleyn] (c.1500–1536) queen of England, second consort of Henry VIII
  • Drake, Sir Francis (1540–1596) pirate, sea captain, and explorer
  • George IV (1762–1830) king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and king of Hanover
  • Caroline [Princess Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel] (1768–1821) queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, consort of George IV
  • Holles, Thomas Pelham-, duke of Newcastle upon Tyne and first duke of Newcastle under Lyme (1693–1768) prime minister
  • Abershaw, Louis Jeremiah [Jerry] (c.1773–1795) highwayman
  • Victoria (1819–1901) queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and empress of India
  • Albert [Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha] (1819–1861) prince consort, consort of Queen Victoria

Musical production

  • Band of the Royal Artillery
  • The Daily Mail Radio and Gramophone Van played records
  • Pageant Song: ‘Sons of Our North Land’, music by Mr Montague Philipps

Newspaper coverage of pageant

The Times

Book of words

Esher Historical Pageant and Fete. Np. 1932.

Other primary published materials

  • Programme of Esher historical pageant and fete in aid of Esher Village Hall fund. Np., 1932.

References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Book of Words, Programme and Photograph Scrapbook of the Pageant, Surrey History Centre, Woking, Reference 6304/Box10 and Box 11, 6304/15

Sources used in preparation of pageant



Surrey saw numerous village pageants in the interwar period. Although only a one-day affair, the Esher Pageant of 1932 was one of the more elaborate of these (see, for instance, Abinger (1934) and East Horsley (1936). Put on to raise funds for the village hall, it involved 150 performers, a grandstand, and what seems to have been, at least in part, a Daily Mail-sponsored programme of associated events and amenities (including a radio and gramophone van, which played records throughout the day). With the exception of the figure of the famous highwayman Jerry Abershaw, the content of the pageant was saturated by royalty. No fewer than five monarchs (and a number of their consorts) featured—no mean feat for a pageant containing just five episodes! Strangely, despite being staged at Sandown racecourse, the turf does not seem to have featured in the story told. Perhaps because of its scale, royal content and aristocratic patronage, the pageant received some notice in The Times, which reported that the event had been a success, enjoying ‘ideal weather’ and the imprimatur—though not the presence—of the Prince of Wales, whose private secretary had sent a letter of support. A subsequent pageant was held at Esher in 1934.1


1. ^ Times, 19 September 1932, 10; Illustrated London News, 9 June 1934, 32.

How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘Esher Historical Pageant and Fete’, The Redress of the Past,