Pageant of Local History

Pageant type

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Place: The village green (Hunmanby) (Hunmanby, Yorkshire, East Riding, England)

Year: 1951

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: n/a


June 1951

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Director [Pageant Master]: Owston, Lucy M.


Lucy Owston was author of Hunmanby, East Yorkshire: a story of ten centuries (Scarborough, 1948).

Names of executive committee or equivalent


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

  • Owston, Lucy M.

Names of composers


Numbers of performers

Performers were children from the village

Financial information


Object of any funds raised


Linked occasion

Festival of Britain 

Audience information

  • Grandstand: Not Known
  • Grandstand capacity: n/a
  • Total audience: n/a

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Associated events


Pageant outline

Scene 1.

It is probable that the site of Hunmanby was inhabited 200 years before the birth of Christ. In the first century A.D., our village, then little more than a clearing in the virgin forest, was visited by the Romans who built the roads and camps and who brought many of the amenities of their civilisation to this part of Yorkshire. In the opening scene we see enacted some of the activities of the Britons and their reaction to the invaders. [All descriptions from The Pageant of local history by the village children of Hunmanby. Programme (Hull, 1951), unpaginated.]

Scene 2.

Eight hundred years later, when the Romans had left Britain to the mercies of invading tribes from northern Europe, the village was established as a settlement on the verge of the Forest of Pickering, as part of the Turbar Hundred in the Danelaw. About this time the name ‘Hundemanebi’—‘the farmstead of the houndsmen’—was given to the settlement. The activities of the houndsmen are seen here.

Scene 3.

Following the resistance of the spirited Yorkshireman to William the Conqueror in 1067 and 1068, most of our countryside was laid waste. A nephew of William, named Gilbert de Gant, was appointed overlord of large estates in Lincolnshire and in Yorkshire, including Hunmanby. This scene shows his arrival with his retinue and symbolises the beginnings of the Norman Castle and the Church.

Scene 4.

The fourth scene depicts the conveyance of the Church of Hunmanby to the Abbot of Bardney by Gilbert de Gant’s eldest son Walter in the year 1115. Thus began an association between Hunmanby Church and Bardney Abbey which lasted until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538. The second part of this scene shows the appointment of Herbert, the first secular Vicar of Hunmanby, by the Archbishop of York.

Scene 5.

A twice-yearly event of importance in the village from very early days was the Village Fair held on 6 May and 29 October. The May assembly, as it might have appeared in the 16th century, with all the attendant merrymaking, is portrayed here.

Scene 6.

Squire Humphrey Osbaldeston was a notable Hunmanby and East Riding figure at the end of the 18th century. He was the active commander of the Dickering Corps of Volunteers, raised to meet the threat of Napoleonic invasion, and here we see him with his militia. The reaction of the volunteers to an emergency forms the main part of this scene.

Scene 7.

The wedding of Phil, a daughter of a famous vicar of Hunmanby, Archdeacon Wrangham, in 1821, was a great occasion for the village. We show an old bridal custom, perhaps remembered by some people still, of barring the church gates to the bride and bridegroom until money had been scrambled amongst the children gathered outside.

Scene 8.

Should some villager be judged to have committed some social misdemeanour, such as beating his wife, he was often, in the last century, subjected to the indignity of a custom known as ‘riding the stang’. This scene shows how an effigy of the offender was ridden on a pole (the stang) through the village, to the accompaniment of great tumult, and finally burned on the market cross.

Scene 9.

A little-used path from the beach at Hunmanby Gap to the villages inland was the scene of smuggling activities about 130 years ago. Here we see the smugglers at work delivering contraband to those villagers who objected to the duties enforced by the excisemen.

Scene 10.

About 1840, a group of men and boys from the village formed the Lushington Band. They sang Christmas Carols to raise funds for various objects. Later they were known as The Widow Singers and the proceeds of their singing were devoted to the relief of poor and needy widows in the village. This scene shows their activities. The end of the scene will be a procession of all the players following the Widow Singers, forming a finale to the pageant.

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Gant, Gilbert de, earl of Lincoln (c.1123–1155/6) magnate
  • Thurstan (c.1070–1140) archbishop of York
  • Wrangham, Francis (1769–1842) writer and Church of England clergyman

Musical production

Performed by Hunmanby Silver Band

Newspaper coverage of pageant


Book of words

None noted.

Other primary published materials

  • Pageant of local history by the village children of Hunmanby. Programme. June 1951. Hull 1951. [Programme 1s.]

References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Copy of Programme in East Yorkshire Archives, Beverley, Reference DDX1694/1/72

Sources used in preparation of pageant

  • Owston, Lucy M. Hunmanby, East Yorkshire: a story of ten centuries. Scarborough, 1948.


This is an example of the hundreds of village pageant held in association with the 1951 Festival of Britain (see Bedale, East Grinstead, and Home of the Chaine Folk). It was performed by local children, who mimed the action to the accompaniment of commentary. Like many village pageants, Hunmanby's focused on the lives of the ordinary people rather than of prominent historical figures.


How to cite this entry

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