Pageant of Cirencester

Pageant type


Additional information drawn from 'Survey of Historical Pageants' undertaken by Mick Wallis; with thanks to Cirencester Bingham Library.

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Place: Home Park (Cirencester) (Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England)

Year: 1953

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 3


11–13 June 1953, at 9pm

[Performances were floodlit]

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Pageant Master: Crockett, John
  • Stage Manager: F.J. McLellan
  • Stage Manager (Sound): J. Honer
  • Chief Electrician: A.J. Counter
  • Wardrobe: R. Parr

Names of executive committee or equivalent

Pageant Committee

  • Chairman: Viola Apsley
  • Vice-Chairman: A. Saint
  • Treasurer: E. Rolfe
  • Joint Hon. Secretaries: P.R. Ramsay and R. Chester-Master

Producers Advisory Sub-Committee

  • Chairman: A. Saint 

Costumes Sub-Committee

  • Chairman: R. Parr 

Publicity and Box Office Sub-Committee

  • Chairman:  P.H. Webb

Musical Sub-Committee

  • Chairman: J. Honer

Technical Sub-Committee

  • Chairman: Mr F. McLellan

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

  • Aspley, Viola
  • Crockett, John

Names of composers


Numbers of performers


Financial information


Object of any funds raised


Linked occasion

Coronation of Elizabeth II

Audience information

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Associated events


Pageant outline

Prologue. Queen Elizabeth I Arrives in Cirencester, 1592.

Part One.

Episode I. The Spirit of Arthur Speaks

Episode II. The Roman Occupation, AD 45

Episode III. St Augustine and his English Followers, AD 611.

Episode IV. The Danish Invaders. AD 877.

Episode V. The Royal Abbey of St Mary’s, Cirencester in Medieval Times, and the visit of Edward I AD 1235.

Episode VI. Cirencester Grammar School and its Famous Boys.


A Maypole Dance and Mumming Play.

Part Two.

Episode VII.

  • Parts a) to d) The Capture of Cirencester, AD 1643. 
  • Parts e) to f) The Return of Charles II, AD 1663.

Episode VIII.

  • Part a) The Visit of Daniel Defoe, AD 1700.
  • Part b) The Visit of Queen Anne, AD 1703.

Episode IX. John Wesley passes through Cirencester, AD 1743.

Episode X. A Highwayman on his way to be Hung. AD 1756.

Episode XI. Visit of King George III, AD 1788.

Episode XII. The Napoleonic War, AD 1800.

Episode XIII. The Third Earl of Bathurst meets with William Pitt and Arthur Wellesley, AD 1805.

Episode XIV. A Game of Cricket and a Poacher is Apprehended. AD 1850.

Episode XV. The Royal Agricultural Exhibition Welcomes the Prince of Wales. AD 1894.

God Save the Queen.

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Elizabeth I (1533–1603) %%queen of England and Ireland
  • Arthur (supp. fl. in or before 6th cent.) legendary warrior and supposed king of Britain [also known as Artorius ?, King]
  • Augustine [St Augustine] (d. 604) missionary and archbishop of Canterbury
  • Edward I (1239–1307) king of England and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine
  • Charles II (1630–1685) king of England, Scotland, and Ireland
  • Defoe, Daniel (1660?–1731) writer and businessman
  • Anne (1665–1714) queen of Great Britain and Ireland
  • Wesley [Westley], John (1703–1791) Church of England clergyman and a founder of Methodism
  • George III (1738–1820) king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and king of Hanover
  • Bathurst, Henry, third Earl Bathurst (1762–1834) politician
  • Pitt, William [known as Pitt the younger] (1759–1806) prime minister
  • Wellesley [formerly Wesley], Arthur, first duke of Wellington (1769–1852) army officer and prime minister
  • Edward VI (1537–1553) king of England and Ireland

Musical production


Newspaper coverage of pageant


Book of words

None known

Other primary published materials

  • Floodlit Pageant of Cirencester: Souvenir Programme. Cirencester, 1953. [Price 1s.]

References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • British Library: Copy of the Programme.
  • Cirencester Bingham Library holds an annotated copy of the pageant script.

Sources used in preparation of pageant



The Pageant of Cirencester was one of a number of Pageants held for the Coronation in 1953 (see St Albans, Sandy, and Warwickshire). A number of postwar pageants utilized floodlighting, allowing performances to begin later in the evenings to attract more spectators returning from work, as well as affording performers the opportunity of not taking substantial holidays to perform in pageants. 

Cirencester Bingham Library holds a copy of the script that has been annotated by Marjorie Klitz, who played the part of Narrator in the pageant.


The 1953 Coronation occasioned numerous historical pageants. This example, staged over three days at Cirencester, is notable for the use it made of floodlighting. The aim, evidently, was to create a dramatic spectacle. It seems to have been a fairly elaborate undertaking, with fifteen episodes (one of them of six parts). The link between Elizabeth II and her sixteenth-century namesake are foregrounded, the pageant—which is otherwise arranged chronologically—opening with a scene depicting the visit of good Queen Bess to Cirencester in 1592. There followed a wide-ranging treatment of the history of the town, much being made of its connection with events and figures of national importance—from the invasion of the Danes to the Civil War, Restoration and conflict with Napoleonic France.

How to cite this entry

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