Wilton House Pageant

Pageant type


The pageant was held under the auspices of the Salisbury Division Constitutional Association (i.e. the local Conservative party). The performers were drawn from the association’s membership.

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Place: Gardens of Wilton House (Wilton) (Wilton, Wiltshire, England)

Year: 1937

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 1


30–31 June 1937

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Pageant Master: Oliver, Edith

Names of executive committee or equivalent


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

  • Oliver, Edith

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


Pageant outline

Alfred as a boy reading an illuminated manuscript.

The King is roused into action by witnessing peasants suffering at the hands of the Danes.

St Edith rejecting the Crown

Nobles offer Edith the crown, which she rejects, preferring the habit of a novice.

Ela of Salisbury is dissuaded from Taking the Veil

Ela is attempting to escape from an unwanted suitor and is reunited with her husband, William Longespée.

Three Kings dine at Clarendon Palace

The Kings, Edward III, John of France, and David of Scotland are entertained by peasants dancing and singing songs.

Sir William Herbert takes possession of the Abbey, 1539

Herbert expels the nuns, who leave the abbey with quiet dignity. [William Herbert appears in the guise of a knight, but was not knighted until 1544].

Lady Jane Grey has homage performed to her

After this, Lady Jane shrinks from an apparition of a black-clad executioner.

Elizabeth I presents a lock of hair to Sir Philip Sidney

John Rose presents the first pineapple in England to Charles II

This scene was based on a painting attributed to Hendrik Danckerts, probably painted in or around 1670.

Squire Burchell’s arrival at Dr Primrose’s house

The scene is taken from Goldsmith’s Vicar of Wakefield.

Hon. Sidney Herbert requests that Florence Nightingale proceeds to the Crimea, 1854

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Alfred [Ælfred] (848/9–899) king of the West Saxons and of the Anglo-Saxons [also known as Aelfred, the Great]
  • Edith [St Edith, Eadgyth] (961x4–984x7) nun
  • Ela, suo jure countess of Salisbury (b. in or after 1190, d. 1261) magnate and abbess
  • Longespée [Lungespée], William (I), third earl of Salisbury (b. in or before 1167, d. 1226) magnate
  • Edward III (1312–1377) king of England and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine
  • David II (1324–1371) king of Scots
  • Herbert, William, first earl of Pembroke (1506/7–1570) soldier and magnate
  • Sidney, Sir Philip (1554–1586) author and courtier
  • Grey [married name Dudley], Lady Jane (1537–1554) noblewoman and claimant to the English throne
  • Rose, John (1619–1677) gardener and nurseryman
  • Charles II (1630–1685) king of England, Scotland, and Ireland
  • Primrose, James (1600–1659) physician
  • Elizabeth I (1533–1603) queen of England and Ireland
  • Herbert, Sidney, first Baron Herbert of Lea (1810–1861) politician
  • Nightingale, Florence (1820–1910) reformer of Army Medical Services and of nursing organization

Musical production


Newspaper coverage of pageant

The Times

Book of words


Other primary published materials


References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant


Sources used in preparation of pageant

  • Goldsmith, Oliver. The Vicar of Wakefield. 1766.
  • Charles II Presented with a Pineapple (c.1675-80). Painting attributed to Hendrick Danckerts. https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/406896/charles-ii-presented-with-a-pineapple


Wilton house was a venue for a number of pageants during the interwar period, with other pageants in 1928 and 1933 (the latter commemorating the tercentenary of the death of the Poet George Herbert, and involving a number of prominent cultural figures including Rex Whistler and Siegfried Sassoon—who met his future wife at the pageant). The 1937 pageant was one of several directed by the writer and Conservative Party activist Edith Olivier, who hosted gatherings of ‘Bright Young Things’ including William Walton and Cecil Beaton at Wilton House.1 The pageant was put on by the membership of the Salisbury Division Constitutional Association.


1. ^ Beryl Hurley, ‘Edith Olivier’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry, accessed 10 March 2017, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/38311

How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘Wilton House Pageant’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1516/