A Pageant of Scotland

Pageant type


The pageant was organised by the Girl Guides in Scotland. It was held during the visit of the Chief Guide (Lady Baden Powell) to Scotland and was the central event during this occasion.

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Place: Usher Hall (Edinburgh) (Edinburgh, City Of Edinburgh, Scotland)

Year: 1952

Indoors/outdoors: Indoors

Number of performances: 1


18 October 1952, 6.30pm.

The pageant took place in the Usher Hall, a large and well-known concert arena in the centre of Edinburgh.

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Director [Pageant Master]: Hartley, C.E.
  • Producer and Stage Director: Miss G. Collyns
  • Historical Adviser: Miss M.A. Crawford
  • Lighting Adviser: L.E.W. Stokes-Roberts, Esq.
  • Wardrobe Mistresses: Mrs Munro ('The Story':); Mrs Porteous (Scene II); Miss Fyfe (Scene IV)
  • Producers of 'The Story': Mrs Halliday Croom
  • Asst. Producer of 'The Story': Miss C. Burt
  • Producer of Scene I: Miss J.L. Mackay
  • Assistant Producer of Scene I: Miss George
  • Producer of Scene II: Mrs Proctor
  • Producer of Scene III: Miss Rachael G. McL. Francis
  • Producer of Scene IV: W. Henry. Esq.
  • Producer of Scene V: Miss Ida Watt
  • Producer of Scene VI: Miss Marguerite Feltges
  • Producer of Scene VII: A.M. Kerr, Esq.
  • Producer of Scene VIII: Miss A.S. Frew
  • Assistant Producer of Scene VIII: Miss Mary Frew
  • Producer of Scene IX: Miss G. Collyns
  • Assistant Producer of Scene IX: Miss Eileen Alexander
  • Producer of Scene X: Mrs Simson Hall
  • Assistant Producer of Scene X: Mrs Brown2


Miss C. E. Hartley took charge of overall direction of the pageant, but it is clear that each of the episodes had a local person in overseeing production.

Names of executive committee or equivalent


It is presumed that a central committee was organised that represented all the Guide troops who took part; unfortunately, a record of the committee membership has not been recovered from within the Girl Guide archives.3

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

  • Mackay, J.L.
  • Reid, Netta B.
  • Henry, W.
  • Burns, A.S.
  • Scott, Walter


Some episodes were framed around existing stories or songs, including the traditional ballad ‘Hynd Horn’ which provided a narrative to the drama of Scene VI and ‘Willie's Gane to Melville Castle’ in Scene V; an extract from Sir Walter Scott's long poem Marmion was enacted in Scene VII. The authorship of the other scenes was as follows:

  • Mackay, J.L. [Miss] (Scene I).
  • Reid, Netta B. (Scene II).
  • Henry, W. Esq. (Scene IV).
  • Burns, A.S. [Miss] (Scene VIII).
  • Scott, Walter (Scene VII).

Names of composers


Numbers of performers

The cast was probably large, as the performance involved Girl Guides from all over Scotland.

Financial information


Object of any funds raised

It is possible that tickets for this performance were free, as no mention is made in any news coverage of ticket prices. However, a collection was raised at the Sunday service held in St Giles, Edinburgh, on 19 October. Funds from this were aimed at the Guide International Service Education Scheme.5

Linked occasion

The pageant was held to mark the official visit of Lady Baden Powell (1889–1977), the Chief Guide in the UK in this period.

Audience information

  • Grandstand: No
  • Grandstand capacity: n/a
  • Total audience: 2200


Currently, the Usher Hall has a seating capacity of 2200.6 In was reported that the Hall was 'filled to capacity' for the pageant.7

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest

An article in the Fife Herald suggests that all or most of the tickets for this event and the church service on Sunday may have been allocated to the various Guide companies across Scotland, with each group sending representatives. Since an advertisement has not been recovered and the event was part of major celebrations on the occasion of the Chief Guide's visit to Scotland, this seems a likely scenario.8

Associated events

A 'Service of Dedication' was held in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh (Sunday 19 October 1952). This was followed by a reception held nearby in the Assembly Rooms of the Church of Scotland.

Pageant outline

God Save the Queen

The national anthem was sung.

'The Story'

This was a 'conversation' between a grandmother and 'Alice', her granddaughter. It is described as taking place in 1875. Alice was seen turning the pages of 'a scrapbook of Scottish history'. The two characters and their engagement with the scrapbook was the linking drama between episodes: at the turn of some pages 'characters came to life', forming the succession of episodes included in the pageant. This drama was organised and performed by the City of Edinburgh Girl Guides.

Scene I. Queen Margaret of Scotland

The opening of this episode dramatised Queen Margaret as she lamented 'the loss of her precious Book of Gospels’. As the scene unfolded, Margaret was seen 'giving help to some poor people' in order to 'forget her own trouble'. The episode concluded with her husband, King Malcolm III, asking 'her forgiveness for having taken her book' and restoring this to her, 'beautifully engraved and bound'. It is assumed that the episode contained dialogue; it was organised and performed by Stirlingshire Girl Guides.

Scene II. The Crowning of the Bruce

This episode was set in the Abbey of Scone. In the drama, the Countess of Buchan, 'acting in the place of her brother, the Earl of Fife', placed the crown on the head on the Bruce. In attendance were, 'three Bishops, St Andrews, Glasgow and Moray, and two Earls'. While the ceremony ensued, 'Blind Agnes, a spaewife' warned the Countess 'of the terrible consequences' that would follow her 'act of selfless courage'. However, the Countess stood firm 'in the traditions of her family and her country'. The scene contained, at the very least, monologue and was performed by the Clackmannanshire Girl Guides.

Scene III. Mary Queen of Scots

The premise of this episode was that the Queen was in 'holiday mood' while staying in the house of a 'Burgess of St Andrews'. Lord Randolph, the English ambassador, arrived on the scene to request an answer to Queen Elizabeth's desire that Mary should marry Lord Dudley. However, Mary, who had 'thrown off the cares of the court', refused to give an answer and instead engaged in a dance during which 'her happiness and youth' was described as touching the ambassador's heart. Girl Guides from Fife organised and performed the scene.

Scene IV. After Culloden

Girl Guides from Glasgow were responsible for this episode which was set in the island of Raasay and enacted the arrival of Bonnie Prince Charlie as he escaped capture following defeat at Culloden. The Prince arrived in the company of two followers and a boatman. The women of the island, though anxious about the safety of their menfolk who had joined the Jacobites, were described in the pageant programme as unfaltering in their 'loyalty and devotion' to the Prince. It is unclear whether there was any dialogue in this episode.

Scene V. Willie's Gane to Melville Castle

Girl Guides from Midlothian where Melville Castle is sited (near Dalkeith) performed in this episode. It consisted of a mime of the story told in this traditional song wherein Willie arrives 'at the Castle to bid farewell to the ladies before he goes off on a long journey'. It is assumed that there was music as the sung lyrics of the title accompanied the action.

Scene VI. Hynd Horn

Despite the fact that the drama in this episode was that of the traditional Border ballad ‘Hynd Horn’, it was performed by the Girl Guides of Aberdeenshire. This scene took the form of a mime of the tale and was performed by twenty-one Guides.10 This tells a story that has many variants; in the Scottish Borders' version, the hero, Hynd Horn, falls in love with a princess. She gives him a diamond ring and tells him that when it fades this will mean that her love for him has ceased. When this happens, Hynd Horn goes back to find her, but she has just married another man. However, true love conquers all, and Hynd Horn wins back his love. The pageant programme states that the story's relevance was 'faithfulness to plighted troth'.11

Scene VII. Young Lochinvar

West Lothian Guides performed this episode, which re-enacted in five parts the well-known tale of the knight Lochinvar (from Walter Scot's long poem Marmion, first published in 1808). Lochinvar made a daring journey on horseback to rescue his beloved from a forced marriage. The five parts are described as: 'The Journey, The Arrival, The Wedding Feast, The Dance and the Pursuit'. Within the context of Scott's original work, the ballad of Lochinvar is put in the mouth of Lady Heron, 'who sings it to the Scottish Court at Holyrood on the eve of [the Battle of] Flodden'.12 Therefore, although this ballad is popularly known as a poem, it is possible that a sung version was presented in the pageant to accompany the action.

Scene VIII. David Livingstone

Lanarkshire Guides were responsible for this drama. It was purported to be set in 'Ulva Cottage, Hamilton' which was David Livingstone's home in Scotland at a time when he had returned to Africa on his final visit to the continent. The scene featured the explorer's daughters —Anna Mary, aged seven, and an older girl, Agnes, said in the programme to be eighteen. The narrative had Agnes telling her younger sister about 'the dangers and glories of their Father's work'.13

Scene IX. Guiding Today

This scene was set in a 'present day street scene in which a Patrol Leader tells of the challenge and adventure of Guiding'. Following this, a small girl who was listening was seen to respond eagerly to the message that was delivered. The scene was organised and performed by City of Edinburgh Guides.

Scene X. Guides of all the World

This scene consisted mainly of singing the songs: 'the Guide Marching Song’ and the ‘World Song'. The audience were encouraged to join in. There may also have been some dramatic content, but details have not been recovered. The scene was organised by the City of Edinburgh Guides.

The End of the Story

No details of this finale, which was performed by the City of Edinburgh Guides, have been recovered.

Welcome to the Chief Guide and Address by the Chief Guide

Following an interval Lady Baden Powell took the stage and delivered an address. Lady Stratheden and Campbell, Chief Commissioner for Scotland, accompanied her. During her speech, the performers sat in the organ gallery; they were described as almost filling this large space.14

Vote of Thanks

Precise details have not been recovered, but it may be assumed that the Chief Commissioner for Guiding in Scotland delivered this. The Scotsman newspaper reported that Lady Powell was given 'seven bags, each bearing a letter of the word “welcome”' and that these contained 'reports of what the guides had been doing to help other people throughout Scotland'.15


This is traditionally sung at the close of campfire gatherings and similar Guiding activities. There are various versions of the Vesper used by Guides worldwide; in the pageant programme, three lines of the version sung in the Usher Hall are included:

Abide with us O Lord,
For it is now the evening,
The day is past and over.


This short song is well known internationally and sung by Guides at the end of meetings.

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Malcolm III [Mael Coluim Ceann Mór, Malcolm Canmore] (d. 1093) king of Scots
  • Margaret [St Margaret] (d. 1093) queen of Scots, consort of Malcolm III
  • Robert I [Robert Bruce] (1274–1329) king of Scots
  • Buchan [née Macduff], Isabel, countess of Buchan (b. c.1270, d. after 1313) noblewoman, Countess of Buchan
  • Mary [Mary Stewart] (1542–1587) queen of Scots
  • Randolph, Thomas (1525/6–1590) diplomat Lord Randolph
  • Livingstone, David (1813–1873) explorer and missionary
  • Powell, Olave St Clair Baden- [née Olave St Clair Soames], Lady Baden-Powell (1889–1977) leader of the world Girl Guide movement

Musical production

There was singing but no information has been recovered about possible musical accompaniment. The Usher Hall, where the pageant was held, is famous for its acoustics and it is presumed that music was a large part of this pageant, since a great deal of the performance likely consisted of mime. Certainly, there is evidence suggesting musical accompaniment in Scene V, which is based on a traditional ballad. The ballads enacted in Scenes VI and VII have also sometimes been set to music and this may have been the case in the pageant. Unfortunately, further information has not been recovered.

Traditional song: ‘Willie's Gane to Melville Castle’ (Episode V).

Newspaper coverage of pageant

The Scotsman

The Berwick Advertiser

The Aberdeen Evening Express

The Fife Herald16

Book of words


No book of words was produced.

Other primary published materials

  • Pageant of Scotland: Guides of Scotland Greet the Chief Guide, Saturday, 18th October 1952 at 6.30 pm. Souvenir Programme. Edinburgh, 1952.

References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • The archives of the Girl Guides in Scotland hold a copy of the programme.

Sources used in preparation of pageant

  • Scott, Sir Walter. Marmion. First published 1808; numerous subsequent imprints.

The subject of Scene VII was 'Young Lochinvar'. The programme mentions that this verse originated in Scott's Marmion.17


The star of the Pageant of Scotland held in 1952 was not a figure from the past; rather, it was its main guest, a woman who must have known that she would one day gain a place in history. As World Chief Guide, Olave, Lady Baden-Powell was a tireless international ambassador for the Girl Guide movement. She began championing the Guides following her marriage in 1912 to the founder of the Scouts and Guides movements, Robert Baden-Powell. After his death in 1941, she was almost constantly on the move.18 It has been estimated that between 1930 and 1977 she travelled over 488000 miles across the globe.19 In 1952, she made a tour relatively close to home when she visited Girl Guides in Scotland. In addition to her travel around many regional Guides companies to see their activities, in honour of this official occasion, the Guides in Scotland came together to offer the Pageant of Scotland as a fitting celebration of her trip north. There were a number of pageants which the Scouts or Guides contributed to, such as the Wiltshire North Girl Guides' Pageant (1988).

The pageant was held in a prestigious venue in Edinburgh—the Usher Hall. It might be imagined that an organisation which made a virtue of healthy outdoor pursuits would naturally have chosen a large out-of-doors setting for the pageant. Had the Chief Guide arrived in summer this would almost certainly have been the case, but she came in October, making this scenario unviable. However, it is clear that this was an event which had to address a very large audience, so the choice of the Usher Hall was beyond question the best compromise. Yet if this performance had been held outside, there can be no doubt that a much larger audience would have been achieved, for Guiding was at this time in its heyday of popularity. As it was, a capacity audience came along to this one-off show. Almost certainly, those who attended did so by invitation. Although precise details have not been found, the most likely scenario is that individual areas and companies were each allocated a set number of tickets. So this was an audience probably entirely made up of Guides and their leaders. For those fortunate to get a ticket, this was a joyous and important occasion, and Guides came to it from as far away as the Shetland Isles.20

Guides from all over central and the northeast of Scotland made a contribution to the event, with each of the pageant's ten scenes being organised by members from different geographical locations. Sometimes the content of individual scenes had some local relevance; for example, in Scene V Guides from Midlothian performed the narrative of a song set at Melville Castle, which is situated near Dalkieth in this county. Just as often, however, there was no obvious local relevance. The main centres of population—Glasgow, Edinburgh, the Lothians and Aberdeen—featured prominently. Edinburgh seems to have taken something of a lead by being responsible for the dramatic device called 'the story', which linked the scenes, as well as for the three last scenes which celebrated aspects of contemporary Guiding. No doubt this arrangement helped with the overall organisation. The seven scenes that preceded these were meant to present 'a scrapbook of Scottish history'.

This was a scrapbook which foregrounded women from the past. As well as including many Scottish female pageant staples such as Queen Margaret (Scene I), Mary Queen of Scots (Scene III), and the Countess of Buchan (Scene II, famous as the heroine who crowned the Bruce), it also featured the bravery of ordinary women such as the wives of followers of Charles Edward Stuart (Scene IV). Even when dealing with famous men from history—the notable example being David Livingstone in Scene VIII—treatment of the narrative is presented from a female perspective. In the Livingstone scene, his eldest daughter, Agnes, relates tales from his life.

The scenes from history were presented in chronological order; however, also included were scenes which incorporated figures from folklore and literature, such as Walter Scott's ‘Young Lochinvar’ and his 'lady-love' in Scene VII.21 These scenes appear to have been slotted into the programme to conform chronologically to the era of their likely creation. Thus the traditional ballad ‘Hynd Horn’, which probably grew in popularity during the eighteenth century, was presented in Scene VI before Walter Scott's early nineteenth-century ballad—despite the fact that this told a tale supposed to be set in medieval times.

It is clear that most of the performance took the form of mime; this was accompanied by either recitation or song. It is presumed that the linking device of 'the Story' did contain dialogue since it features two characters—a grandmother and granddaughter. Music, especially singing, was integral to the pageant and must have been impressive within the context of the Usher Hall given that venue’s famed acoustic qualities; unfortunately, however, no details of orchestration or recorded music have been identified. Following the performance of the scenes and an interval in the show, Lady Baden-Powell addressed an enthusiastic audience. In this she was reported as saying to them that Scotland 'was steeped' in history and that this 'had come to them, creating by degrees their character'.22

The attention given to women in the selection of scenes from the past and from legend might suggest a feminist agenda. However, any such notion should be considered in the light of the pageant's clear overall message, which was a traditional one wherein women devoted themselves to the service of great men. This companionate ideal is clearly seen in the programme notes which accompany Scene VI where 'faithfulness to plighted troth' is explicitly stated as the message of the ballad ‘Hynd Horn’.

The popularity of the Guide movement in the UK in the post-war period should not be underestimated, nor should the significance of this pageant's message about female destiny. The programme states that this 'scrapbook' of Scottish history had been 'inspired by the threads of loyalty and courage and devotion to duty' that ran through the story. The traditions upheld by the Guide movement itself were asserted as having continuity with these virtues. This was made plain in the speech given by Olave Baden-Powell who stated that this 'vision of past history' would 'help them in their present life'.23 Thus, if we take this pageant as an example, while Guiding was a movement that encouraged girls to be independent and resourceful, it seems that these abilities were not intended to be used as a means to challenge the status quo of gender relations making any possible feminist mission by this movement into a somewhat ambiguous aim.

At the end of the pageant, Lady Baden-Powell was given 'seven bags, each bearing a letter of the word “welcome”'.24 These contained 'reports of what the Guides had been doing to help other people throughout Scotland'. She then announced that she intended to have these sent overseas as 'messages of Guide friendship'.25 As she left the stage, the audience said farewell by singing 'Will Ye No' Come Back Again?'26 It seems clear that she was held in great affection and respect by her movement, and for those who took part and the thousands who attended either this event or the church service the following day at St Giles Church in Edinburgh, this was without doubt a memorable occasion.27

There is no indication that this pageant aimed to raise funds in any way, but the service held the following afternoon, accompanied by much organised flag waving by Guides performed on the steps outside St Giles, did take up a collection on behalf of the Guides' International Service Education Scheme. This initiative raised funds to enable children from displaced people's camps in Germany to come to Britain for education or holidays.28 By this time, the Chief Guide had gained the reputation of being a superb emissary of the Girl Guide association worldwide and for using that organisation to promote 'international harmony and reconciliation'.29 This was, of course, a very resonant message in the post-war world. The pageant programme includes a photograph of Lady Baden Powell—in uniform and looking very much the image of a jolly but sensible 'head girl', a leader who took her responsibilities seriously and who did try to be a role model to the members of the movement she headed. The meanings portrayed in this pageant conformed very much to the ideals of that movement and likely delighted the star of the show.


  1. ^ 'Chief Guide in Edinburgh', The Scotsman, 20 October 1952, 6.
  2. ^ A Pageant of Scotland: Guides of Scotland Greet the Chief Guide, Saturday, 18th October 1952 at 6.30 pm, Souvenir Programme (Edinburgh, 1952), 1–2.
  3. ^ The project is indebted to the volunteer archivists at Girl Guides Scotland for the efforts made to recover information about this pageant.
  4. ^ Information about individual authors in A Pageant of Scotland: Guides of Scotland Greet the Chief Guide, Saturday, 18th October 1952 at 6.30 pm, Souvenir Programme (Edinburgh, 1952), 2–4.
  5. ^ 'Chief Guide in Edinburgh', The Scotsman, 20 October 1952, 6.
  6. ^ See Usher Hall website, accessed 16 October 2015, https://www.usherhall.co.uk/screenloader.aspx?page=style/usherhall/promoters.html&type=include.
  7. ^ 'Chief Guide in Edinburgh', The Scotsman, 20 October 1952, 6.
  8. ^ '1st Cupar Girl Guides', Fife Herald, 22 October 1952, 8.
  9. ^ 'Guides and Rangers Meet Chief Guide', Berwick Advertiser, 23 October 1952, 3.
  10. ^ 'Guides in Pageant', Aberdeen Evening Express, 14 October 1952, 5.
  11. ^ Pageant of Scotland: Guides of Scotland Greet the Chief Guide, Saturday, 18th October 1952 at 6.30 pm, Souvenir Programme (Edinburgh, 1952), 3. The Ballad was collected by Sir Walter Scott, Francis Childs and others.
  12. ^ Pageant of Scotland: Guides of Scotland Greet the Chief Guide, Saturday, 18th October 1952 at 6.30 pm, Souvenir Programme (Edinburgh, 1952), 3
  13. ^ Pageant of Scotland: Guides of Scotland Greet the Chief Guide, Saturday, 18th October 1952 at 6.30 pm, Souvenir Programme (Edinburgh, 1952), 4.
  14. ^ 'Chief Guide in Edinburgh', The Scotsman, 20 October 1952, 6.
  15. ^ 'Chief Guide in Edinburgh', The Scotsman, 20 October 1952, 6.
  16. ^ Given that Guides from across Scotland took part in this event, a note of this pageant may have been made in many of the small, regional newspapers in Scotland which often covered local activities by Guides and similar youth groups.
  17. ^ See Pageant of Scotland: Guides of Scotland Greet the Chief Guide, Saturday, 18th October 1952 at 6.30 pm, Souvenir Programme (Edinburgh, 1952), 3.
  18. ^ Allen Warren, ‘Powell, Olave St Clair Baden-, Lady Baden-Powell (1889–1977)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004), online edn, January 2011, accessed 16 October 2015, http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/30779
  19. ^ Ibid.
  20. ^ 'Chief Guide in Edinburgh', The Scotsman, 20 October 1952, 6.
  21. ^ Pageant of Scotland: Guides of Scotland Greet the Chief Guide, Saturday, 18th October 1952 at 6.30 pm, Souvenir Programme (Edinburgh, 1952), 3.
  22. ^ 'Chief Guide in Edinburgh', The Scotsman, 20 October 1952, 6.
  23. ^ Ibid., 6.
  24. ^ Ibid., 6.
  25. ^ Ibid., 6.
  26. ^ Reported in '1st Cupar Girl Guides', Fife Herald, 22 October 1952, 8.
  27. ^ Press coverage suggests that tickets to the pageant and church service were allocated separately to allow more Guides and Guides leaders to take part in the whole celebration. See, for example, '1st Cupar Girl Guides', Fife Herald, 22 October 1952, 8.
  28. ^ 'Chief Guide in Edinburgh', The Scotsman, 20 October 1952, 6.
  29. ^ Warren, ‘Powell, Olave St Clair Baden-, Lady Baden-Powell (1889–1977)’.

How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘A Pageant of Scotland’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1071/