Bishopthorpe Pageant

Pageant type

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Place: Grounds of Bishopthorpe Palace (Bishopthorpe) (Bishopthorpe, Yorkshire, North Riding, England)

Year: 1930

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 4


24–28 June 1930

[24–26 June at 7pm; 28 June at 3pm
Dress rehearsal 21 June at 3pm]

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Producer [Pageant Master]: Perkins, Canon F.L.
  • Producer [Pageant Master]: Hughes, Rev. T.A.


Perkins was the Vicar of Bishopthorp and Hughes was warden of the York Educational settlement.

Names of executive committee or equivalent


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

  • Perkins, F.L.

Names of composers


Numbers of performers


The Pageant Raised funds to recondition the school

Financial information


Object of any funds raised


Linked occasion


Audience information

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


Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest

5s 9d–1s 3d.

[Dress rehearsal 2s–1s.]

Associated events


Pageant outline

Foundation of the Roman Fortress of Ad Castra, 211 AD

The Village in Saxon Times

The Thirteenth Century Game Laws

Cardinal Wolsey Under Arrest at Cawood Castle

Visit of King Charles I

Agricultural Rioters at the Time of the Reform Bill of 1832

A Speech by Queen Victoria on her Visit in 1835


Key historical figures mentioned

  • Wolsey, Thomas (1470/71–1530) royal minister, archbishop of York, and cardinal
  • Charles I (1600–1649) king of England, Scotland, and Ireland
  • Victoria (1819–1901) queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and empress of India

Musical production


Newspaper coverage of pageant

Manchester Guardian
The Times
Leeds Mercury
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
Yorkshire Evening Post
Sheffield Independent
Hull Daily Mail

Book of words


Other primary published materials


References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant


Sources used in preparation of pageant



The Bishopthorpe Pageant was one of a number of pageants held in North Yorkshire over the summer of 1930, including at Pickering and Nun Monckton. The pageant was written by F.L. Perkins, local vicar and amateur archaeologist. Perkins also acted as producer (de facto pageant master), alongside the Rev. T.A. Hughes of the York Educational Settlement. Great attention to historical detail was rendered, with the Victorian scene using original gowns and the altar in the first scene being one excavated some sixty years previously.1

 The Pageant told the story of Bishopthorpe and its relationship to the Archbishops of York whose palace gave the place its name. The epilogue was spoken by the present Archbishop, William Temple, who entertained a number of Colonial prelates and their wives (visiting York on their way to the Lambeth Conference held in July).2 The Leeds Mercury noted that the pageant was not wholly favourable to past Ebors, with one scene in particular relating the agricultural riots of 1832 when villagers, provoked by their landlords’ policies of enclosure and exploitation were seen ‘burning an effigy of an archbishop’ and attacking the palace as Temple looked on.3 The sanguine Temple, who in later years made a name for himself as an outspoken supporter of the working man, by all accounts took this well.

The newspapers lauded the performances, with the Yorkshire Post declaring that

 It is a pageant of Englishry—of solid English character keeping the same sturdy front to circumstance, whether the circumstance be the game laws of the thirteenth century, the enclosure of the common lands in the eighteenth, or the rejection of the Reform Bill in the nineteenth. And the charm of it is that each time reveals itself it comes flashing out spontaneously in the Yorkshire dialect.4

The newspaper went on to praise the ‘enormous vigour and enjoyment which have obviously gone to the contriving of the whole of this admirable village enterprise.’5 The Post’s sister paper, the Yorkshire Evening Post, was in accord, declaring that ‘It is more than Bishopthorpe, however. It is the entire history of England, picturesquely related within the space of three hours. It is, in its way, our own national Obermmergau’, referencing the German tradition of passion plays dating back to 1643 held in the village of that name (and which had been, incidentally, something of an influence on Louis Napoleon Parker, originator of the modern British pageant movement). 

The Pageant, which had first been presented in 1928, was part of a long line of pageants in Bishopthorpe held subsequently in 1954, 1956, 1965, 1970 and 2000.6


1. ^ The Times, 27 June 1930, 11.
2. ^ Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 23 June 1930, 8.
3. ^ Leeds Mercury, 23 June 1930, 3.
4. ^ Yorkshire Post, 23 June 1930, 14.
5. ^ Ibid.
6. ^ ‘Community Archive’,, accessed 21 March 2017,

How to cite this entry

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