Dunstable Pageant

Pageant type


Entry researched by Chloe Ratcliffe, King’s College London Undergraduate Research Fellow.

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Place: Priory Meadow (Dunstable) (Dunstable, Bedfordshire, England)

Year: 1963

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 7


24–29 June 1963

[In the evenings, with an additional matinee on Saturday 29 June.]

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Pageant Master: Williams, Dorian
  • Stands and Ground: Mr R.F. Carrington
  • Box Office and Seating: Councillor W.T. Lack O.B.E
  • Costumes: Mrs. I.E. Smith
  • Transport: Mr D.J. Smith
  • Master of the Horse: Mr. W. Hill.
  • Arena facilities: Mr D.G. Pope
  • Communications: Mr J. Baxter


The original Pageant Master was Mr. Cyril Swinson but he died on 3 January 

Names of executive committee or equivalent

General Committee

  • President: His Worship the Mayor of Dunstable
  • Chairman of Executive Committee: Councillor L. Palmer
  • Vice Chairmen: Alderman M.L. Kilby and Canon C. Mackonochie
  • Hon. Treasurer: Mr B.C. Cartland
  • Patron: Major Simon Whitbread, Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire
  • Hon. Secretary: Mr. H. Stew
  • Assistant Hon. Secretary: Miss B. Allen

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: Yes
  • Grandstand capacity: 2000
  • Total audience: n/a

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Associated events


Pageant outline

Key historical figures mentioned


Musical production


Newspaper coverage of pageant

Luton News

Book of words


Other primary published materials

  • Dunstable Pageant, 24-29 June 1963. [Dunstable, 1963].

References in secondary literature

  • Freeman, Mark. ‘“Splendid Display; Pompous Spectacle”: Historical Pageants in Twentieth-Century Britain’. Social History, 38, no. 4 (2013): 423-455.

Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Bedfordshire Archives and Records, Bedford. Correspondence regarding the Pageant, reference LC/ROY1/11.

Sources used in preparation of pageant



This seems to have been quite a large-scale pageant, involving about one thousand performers. Held over six days, it seems to have been a success­—since an extra matinee performance was put on at the end of the run. The Pageant Master was to have been Cyril Swinson, one of the more important pageanteers of the post-1945 period, but he died in January the same year. The scale and apparent success of the event suggests that the pageant form retained considerable vitality into the early 1960s, at least in some places.


How to cite this entry

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