Pageant of Local History

Pageant type

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Place: The Park (Barrow) (Barrow, Lincolnshire, England)

Year: 1951

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 4


9 and 16 June 1951 at 2.30 and 6pm

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Script, Costumes and Production (Pageant Master): D.M. Borrill
  • Musical Interlude by Barrow Britannia Brass Band,
  • Conductor: A. Rash
  • Commentary by K. MacMahon, MA, History Tutor at University College Hull


Pageant opened on 9 by Rev P.G.G. Binnall, FSA and on 16 June by Mrs E.H. Rudkin

Names of executive committee or equivalent


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

  • Borrill, D.M.

Names of composers


Numbers of performers


Financial information


Object of any funds raised


Linked occasion

1951 Festival of Britain

Audience information

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Associated events


Pageant outline

Scene I. The Ancient Britons and Romans, A.D. 58

In Ad Barvae, the Village of the Woods, lives a tribe of Britons ruled by Cadwallar, a mighty chief, who is away in the South Woods hunting the brown bear. Suddenly Bara, a fisherman, looking westwards gives a warning cry as three Romans appear striding towards the village. The inhabitants flee leaving Una, daughter of Cadwalldar, lying hurt on the grass. At the sight of the girl two of the men rush forward but are rebuked by their Centurion who confesses that in their search for water they have lost their way. While Una is talking to Marcellus, Cadwalldar and his men return from their successful day’s hunting. At once they seize their weapons but are reassured by the Roman who tells the Britons that the Roman General Brutus is on the way bringing offers of friendship. During the discussion which follows Marcus fights a bear and a band of young girls dance.

Scene II. Chad Founds a Monastery at Ad Barvale. A.D. 669.

Angles from all parts of their village make their way to a folk-mote summoned by Winta, a pagan King of Lindsey to discuss the gift of the parish to the Holy Man Chad. Messengers come with tidings from Wulfere, King of Mercia and Queen Elfreda begs him to listen to Chad. The King asks for his people’s opinions of the new doctrine, with his Thane and a Pagan Priest suggesting he should heed Chad.  The King agrees to supply Chad with anything he needs and the people follow Chad who blesses the boundaries of the village singing a psalm, ‘I was Glad’.

Scene III. The Death of A Warrior. A.D. 1066

The Look-out sounds the alarm as a Viking Ship approaches. People hurry from the fields with men standing on guard, before advancing to meet the strangers. The Vikings carry on their wounded king. As they advance, Hrothgar sings of the valiant deeds of his master King Harald Hardrada. Oswald, one of the villagers, sends for the hermit who, after giving the mortally-wounded king water from the well, orders him to be carried to his cell in the woods.

Scene IV. The Days of Chivalry – A Tournament in the Middle Ages

Trumpets sound and knights ride in with their name proclaimed by a herald. Two pages enter, followed by King Henry and Queen Margaret, with further pages, Lords, Ladies, and Jesters. Ladies bestow favour on their champions and the Herald proclaims the law of the tourney with the knights competing. The winner receives a coronet of gold leaves from the Queen and the King drinks the health of the champion. The jester amuses people.

Scene V. Tudor Days. Henry VIII visits Barrow. 1541

Margery, the Squire’s daughter and Elizabeth, her nurse, are scattering flowers about the thrones erected for the Royal Visitors when they are joined by the King, who captivates the country maiden by his charm. Re-joining the courtiers assembling in the Park for the procession, Henry takes his place beside the Queen and the long retinue of Herald, Pages, Lords and Ladies, the Squire of Barrow, the Priest of the village and a Canon of Thornton, moves on to the scene of the merry-making. A bevy of girls dance round the Maypole and a company of archers shoot for a silver arrow. After the bowman has received his prize Henry expresses his pleasure at the welcome given him by his students and bestows on the good Priest a tenth of the barley and a tenth of the lambs from the village.

Scene VI. John Harrison Lived Here. A.D. 1693-1736.

Henry Harrison, his wife Elizabeth, and their sons are journeying to Barrow from Yorkshire when they are held up by a highwayman. Elizabeth explains their relatively lowly status and John and James show no fear, talking to the highwayman and asking if he has a watch. Before the waggon moves on a gipsy, who has begged a lift, is told by Sir Rowland Wynne to leave the village. She predicts that Sir Rowland’s only claim to fame will be that he is connected with the family of John Harrison.

Key historical figures mentioned

Ceadda [St Ceadda, Chad] (d. 672?) abbot of Lastingham and bishop of Mercia and Lindsey
Harald Hardrada [Haraldr inn Harðráði, Haraldr Sigurðarson] (1015–1066) king of NorwayHenry VI (1421–1471) king of England and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine
Margaret [Margaret of Anjou] (1430–1482) queen of England, consort of Henry VI
Henry VIII (1491–1547) king of England and Ireland
Katherine [Catherine; née Katherine Howard] (1518x24–1542) queen of England and Ireland, fifth consort of Henry VIII
Harrison, John (bap. 1693, d. 1776) horologist

Musical production

Musical Interlude by Barrow Britannia Brass Band, Conductor: A. Rash

Newspaper coverage of pageant


Book of words

None noted

Other primary published materials

  • Festival of Britain Souvenir Programme, Barrow on Humber [Price 1s]. Barrow-on-Humber, 1951.

References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Copy of Programme in East Midlands Collection, Nottingham University, Ref. Lin49 D34 BAR

Sources used in preparation of pageant



Hundreds of pageants were held during the Festival of Britain in 1951, with pageants in the county held at Boston and Grimsby. Whilst unlike many Festival pageants, monarchy played a significant part in several scenes of the Pageant, the pageant concluded with an episode depicting the early life of John Harrison, a local son, whose chronometer revolutionised timekeeping, in keeping with the Festival’s focus on invention and innovation, shown at both the Southbank site and in Humphrey Jennings’ Family Portrait (1951). The scene featuring Henry VIII's visit to Barrow in 1541 is memorable because almost the only one to contain the King's fifth consort, Katherine Howard (who plays little part in the action). Barrow held a further pageant for the coronation in 1953, also produced and directed by the local historian D.M. Borrill.


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,