The Leaves of Time

Pageant type


This entry was researched and written by Ellie Reid.

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Place: Speen Playing Field (Speen) (Speen, Buckinghamshire, England)

Year: 1999

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 4


8, 9 and 10 July 1999 at 8pm. Wednesday evening [7th?]  special performance with sign interpreter.

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Producer and Director [Pageant Master]: Stockley, Marjorie


Names of executive committee or equivalent

Production Team

  • Producer and Director [Pageant Master]: Stockley, Marjorie
  • Choreographer and Assistant Director: Sue Rodgers
  • Assistant Director: Di Holwell
  • Musical Director and [author]: Martin Stockley
  • Costume design and Wardrobe: Suzi Rose
  • Stage Manager: Rosalind Richard

Logistics Team

  • Field Organiser: John Holmes


Production team: 41 members including those named above . Composition: 75% female, 25% male.

Logistics team: 14 members, 1 female, 13 male.

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

  • Stockley, Martin


Names of composers

  • Stockley, Martin

Song: 'The Leaves of Time'.

Numbers of performers


Financial information

Sponsors: Wycombe District Council, Lacey Green Parish Council, Speen Shop Charities Fund.

Object of any funds raised


Linked occasion

Speen Millennium celebration

Audience information

  • Grandstand: Not Known
  • Grandstand capacity: n/a
  • Total audience: n/a



Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Associated events


Pageant outline

Scene 1: 1999

The end of the school day in Speen. Parents collect their children from the primary school while the older children have arrived back by bus from their secondary schools. Schoolchild Becky tells her Dad she has been set a project to research the history of her local community. He is sceptical, declaring: 'nothing ever happened in Speen'. The Wizard of the Woods appears to show Becky Speen's past.

Scene 2: 11th Century

An apparently routine day in a small Anglo-Saxon settlement at Speen. Life is hard and the invading Norman army is not far away.

Scene 3: 12th to 16th Centuries

Farmworkers return with their horse from the fields. They sing 'Holly and Ivy', an old Buckinghamshire song.

Scene 4: 17th Century

During the English Civil War, Speen found itself situated between Royalist Oxford and Parliamentarian Aylesbury. The village's sympathies lay with the Parliamentarians. In an alehouse, locals are enjoying a drink and game of cards when a newcomer arrives raising a suspicion that he may be on the other side of the political and religious divide.

Scene 5: Early 19th Century

A scene symbolising the foundation of Speen chapel involving a travelling preacher, three church builders and women and children gathering flints. The chapel choir sings two hymns; one written specially to be sung at the laying of the foundation stone.

Scene 6: Mid 19th Century

Joyful, informal, country dancing by 40+ dancers.  The rural traditions of song and dance are depicted without attempting authenticity.

Scene 7: Late 19th Century

Scene depicting local rural employment. Lacemakers are at work towards the end of the day. Whilst social pleasantries are exchanged, underlying personal animosities and jealousies are apparent. A bodger and a quarryman return from work. 'The Wycombe caning girl', a traditional song of the local chair-making industry, is sung.

Scene 8: First World War

A scene without scripted dialogue. At the outbreak of war, young soldiers bid farewell to their families with anticipation of an early and glorious victory. What followed was death and destruction on a previously unimaginable scale. Includes choir.

Scene 9: 1920s-30s

A scene which illustrates the changes to the village resulting from the advent of motorised transport. A motorbike and a car take villagers to work and a coach takes others off on a day trip.

Scene 10: Second World war

A committee raising funds for the troops meets at the village hall but the meeting is derailed by constant interruptions. Real incidents from wartime Speen are incorporated in the scene, albeit embroidered for comic effect.

Scene 11: 1945 to modern day

The Wizard of the Woods shows Becky  lighthearted flashbacks of events from the last decades of the century. These include a 1940s fete day, a 1950s postman, and a 1977 Silver Jubilee celebration children's wheelbarrow race.  The decline in the viability of village shops, services and community groups is depicted but the opening of a new village shop brings hope.

Scene 12: 1999

The Wizard of the Woods makes a final plea for Becky and her generation to ensure that the life of their village is sustained, before he heads back to the woods for the next millennium. Becky awakes from a sleep with new-found confidence she can complete her school assignment.


Song and dance to greet the new millennium and in celebration of 'The Leaves of Time'. 

Company assembles.

Key historical figures mentioned


Musical production


Accordionist: Roy Barrowclough

Chinnor Silver Band 

Newspaper coverage of pageant


Book of words


Other primary published materials

  • Stockley, Martin. The Leaves of Time: A Pageant Celebrating the Life of a Chiltern Village Over the Past 1000 Years. High Wycombe, 1999.

Programme advertisement: "A specially filmed video is available at a cost of £10"

References in secondary literature

  • [accessed 04/09/2017]

Archival holdings connected to pageant


Sources used in preparation of pageant

  • Kelly, Mary. How to Make a Pageant. London, 1936.
  • Stockley, Martin and Bob Johnston. The leaves of time : a history of Speen. Speen, [1999?].


One thousand years of life in Speen, Buckinghamshire, were celebrated in this twelve-scene pageant, staged by villagers as part of Speen Millenium celebrations. Inspired by Mary Kelly's guide, How to make a pageant, Martin and Marjorie Stockley envisaged a pageant that would bring to life the contents of 'The Leaves of Time', a history of Speen written by Martin Stockley and Bob Johnston. The story of the village is likened to the life of a great old tree, long-lived but not immortal. The Wizard of the Woods guides schoolchild Becky through eleven scenes of village history, and in the final dream scene implores her and her generation to safeguard the future of the village. Becky awakens from a sleep with new-found confidence she can complete her homework assignment on the history of her local community.

The scenes depict real or imagined scenes from village lifesome with dialogue, others more impressionistic through the use of crowds, dance and song. The programme describes the local and national context to each scene. There are no nationally important figures actually portrayed in the pageant.

The success of the pageant in 1999 gave rise to the biennial Speen Festival.

By Ellie Reid


How to cite this entry

Ellie Reid, ‘The Leaves of Time’, The Redress of the Past,