‘The Land Around Us’: a Pageant of the Isle of Ely

Pageant type

Jump to Summary


Place: Witchford County Secondary School Hall, Witchford (Ely) (Ely, Cambridgeshire, England)

Year: 1956

Indoors/outdoors: Indoors

Number of performances: 1


25 July 1956

[Performance at 7.30pm]

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Devised, Directed and Produced [Pageant Master]: Partridge, D.M.
  • Producer and Pageant Master: W.R. MacMillan

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

  • Grandstand: No
  • Grandstand capacity: n/a
  • Total audience: n/a

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Associated events


Pageant outline

Scene 1. Prologue – The School Hall, 4pm any day in the present

Scene 2. RAF Station, Witchford, 1942.

Scene 3. A Hiring Fair, c.1870.

Scene 4. Littleport Riots, 1815-16.

Scene 5. A Good Man’s Calm.

An imaginary incident in the life of Thomas Clarkson of Wisbeach, who spent the greater part of his live fighting for the abolition of slavery.

Scene 6. Open to the Sky.

An imaginary scene in the life of Alan de Walsingham, who rebuilt the central tower of Ely Cathedral in the form of the present Octagon, 13 February 1322.

Scene 7. Cap O’ Rushes: A Legend of the Fens

Scene 8. Medieval Fair. Near the Cathedral around 1200.

Scene 9. The Monks of Ely Betray Hereward the Wake, 1071.

Scene 10. A Quiet Faith.

Etheldreda lays the foundations of the Abbey at Ely.

Epilogue. The Voice of the Fens.

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Æthelthryth [St Æthelthryth, Etheldreda, Audrey] (d. 679) queen in Northumbria, consort of King Ecgfrith, and abbess of Ely
  • Clarkson, Thomas (1760–1846) slavery abolitionist
  • Walsingham, Alan (d. 1363) prior of Ely
  • Hereward [called Hereward the Wake] (fl. 1070–1071) rebel

Musical production


Newspaper coverage of pageant


Book of words

None noted.

Other primary published materials

  • ‘The Land Around Us’: a pageant of the Isle of Ely. Ely 1956. [Price 6d.]

References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Copy of Programme in Cambridgeshire Local Studies Collection, Cambridge, Reference C.76

Sources used in preparation of pageant



This indoor pageant - one of several held in and around Ely (see 1951 and 2000) was performed just once, on 25 July 1956. Held in the hall of the county Secondary School in Witchford, near Ely, it likely involved schoolchildren. The pageant presented a ten discrete historical scenes, which—unusually enough—were arranged in reverse chronological order, the action beginning in the present day and ending in medieval fenland, with Ethelreda’s foundation of the Abbey at Ely. Another notable feature of the pageant was the inclusion of two ‘imaginary’ episodes from the lives of local notables.


How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘‘The Land Around Us’: a Pageant of the Isle of Ely’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1493/