The Pageant of Guildford 1957

Pageant type

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Place: Shalford Park (Guildford) (Guildford, Surrey, England)

Year: 1957

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 13


26 June–6 July 1957

8-10pm, and matinees on Saturdays.

Full dress rehearsal Tuesday 25 June, 8pm. Old Person’s Welfare Council given 2500 tickets.

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Pageant Master: Ede, Christopher
  • General Co-Ordinating Officer: Herbert C. Weller, LLB
  • Press and Publicity: J.W. Penycate
  • Works Control: D.G. Fairbairn, MIMunE (Deputy Borough Engineer and Surveyor)
  • General Manager: J. Crossley Clitheroe, FTCL, FRSA
  • Administrative Assistants: F.S. Lye, Miss E. Brooks, S.H. Elston
  • Booking Manager: C. Vanplew
  • Production Staff:
  • Choreography: Bice Bellairs
  • Musical Adviser: Arthur Cole
  • Musical Director: J. Crossley Clitheroe
  • Cast Liaison: Jean Case
  • Arena Marshalls: Howard Pickersgill, RSM; C. Cheeseman; Roy Barnes; John Soper; Elizabeth Everington; Valerie Pettitt; Chris Denyer
  • Designer: David Clarke
  • Ballet Costume Designs: Ruth Audsley and A.Z. Scott Miller
  • Wardrobe Mistress: Frances Denyer
  • Property Master: J.T. Ross
  • Master of Horse: T.C. White
  • Assistant to Producer: Sally Bell
  • Musical Specially Composed by: Andrew Thesger, Allen Fluck, Tony Hewitt Jones
  • Arrangements of Old Tunes by: D.W. Bloodworth

Names of executive committee or equivalent

Celebrations Committee: 

  • Chairman: His Worship the Mayor, Alderman H. Kimber, JP
  • Alderman Graham Brown
  • Councillor L. Codd
  • Alderman G.O. Swayne, OBE
  • Alderman D. Wilkins
  • Alderman V.G. Wilkinson, OBE
  • Councillor R.M. Hardy
  • Councillor E.B. Nicklin
  • Councillor K.R. Velde

Pageant Sub-Committee:

  • Chairman, and Chairman of Executive Committee: Councillor L. Codd
  • Vice-Chairman: Mr K.R. Velde
  • Chairman, Publicity Sub-Committee: Mr J.W. Penycate
  • Chairman, Grounds Sub-committee: Mr G.F. Eustace
  • Vice-Chairman, Grounds Sub-Committee: Councillor H.V. Tidy
  • Chairman, Players Sub-Committee: Mrs Paton Hood
  • Mrs M. Bryson
  • Mrs Joy Thomas
  • Mr T. Channing
  • Miss M.D. Ligett, BS (Lond), FLA
  • Mr B. Bailey
  • Mrs J.P. Baker
  • Mr J. Crossley Clitheroe, FTCL, FRSA
  • Mr H.M. Catt
  • Mr W.A.C. Rushton
  • Major General R.L. Bond, CB, CBE, DSO, MC
  • Miss E.M. Dance, MA, PhD
  • Mr E.K. Rowling
  • Mr L.J. Griffiths
  • Mr J. Chasty
  • Mr P. Shepherd
  • Mr S.H. Elston
  • Mr R.O. Jenkins
  • Lt.-Col. E.W. Gibson, MBE (WRAC)
  • Mr R.J. Tooes
  • Mr R. Summers
  • Mrs P. Culver
  • Mr C. Fawcett
  • Captain G.A. Jones (Queens Royal Regiment)
  • Superintendent E. Barlow
  • Mr F. Gloyn
  • Inspector A.C.B. Heyward
  • Mr R.G. Bowers
In addition, the following officers served on special Sub-Committees appointed by the Pageant Sub-Committee:
  • Herbert C. Weller, LLB, Town Clerk
  • George H. Causey, BSc, AMInstCE., MInstMun, Borough Engineer and Surveyor
  • Reginald A. Long, BSc (econ), FIMTA, Borough Treasurer


The Celebrations Committee was appointed to make all the arrangements in connection with the celebrations in recognition of the 700th Anniversary of the granting of the first Charter.

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

  • Ede, Christopher

Names of composers

  • Thesger, Andrew
  • Fluck, Allen
  • Jones, Tony Hewitt

  • Music Specially Composed by: Andrew Thesger, Allen Fluck, Tony Hewitt Jones
  • Arrangements of old Tunes: D.W. Bloodworth

Numbers of performers


Men, women, children.

Financial information

  • Ticket income: £11000
  • Cost of pageant: ‘slightly less than £10000
  • Profit: ‘anything up to £10001

Object of any funds raised


Linked occasion

The 700th Anniversary of the granting of the town’s first Charter.

Audience information

  • Grandstand: Yes
  • Grandstand capacity: n/a
  • Total audience: 41000


‘Sufficient seats had been sold before the opening night to guarantee the financial success of the pageant. Since it opened there has been steady demand for them.’2 Most seats were sold, but not all.

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Associated events

Other Charter Celebrations during the Pageant:
  • An exhibition at the Guildhall of the Borough Records, Regalia and Plate (Open daily from 29 June, 10am-6pm, and 2pm-6pm on 30 June).
  • An exhibition at the New Cathedral of Cathedral treasures (Open daily, 930am to dusk).
  • An exhibition at Guildford House, 10 High Street, ‘Portrait of Guildford’ by the Department of Photography, Guildford School of Art. (Open daily except Sundays, 11am-6pm).
  • An open-air exhibition of paintings by Guildford Art Society in the Castle Grounds (open daily except Sundays, 930am-730pm).
  • An exhibition at the Borough Central Library, Upper High Street, of books on local history (Open daily except Sundays, 10am-7pm).

  • 2.30pm 15 June 1957—A team of athletes from the Depot of the Queen’s Royal Regiment gave displays on the Recreation Ground, Stoke Road. 
  • 3.30pm 15 June 1957—Guildford Rowing Club on the River Wey, afternoon of pageantry and frivolity in boats.
  • Evening 15 June 1957—Adult Helpers of the Borough’s Youth Organisations joint dance in the gymnasium at Stoughton Barracks. 
  • 3pm and 7pm 16 June 1957—Queen’s Royal regiment band concerts in Castle grounds. 
  • 7pm 17 June 1957—Ceremony of Beating Retreat in North Street. 
  • 19–22 June 1957—Royal Counties Agricultural Show in Stoke Park.
  • 22–28 June 1957—County Cricket Week. On 22, 24, and 25 June Surrey playing Oxford University, and on the 26, 27 and 28 June, Surrey against Hampshire. 
  • 23 June 1957—Old Comrades of the Queen’s Royal Regiment attended a special service at Holy Trinity Church. 
  • 24 June 1957—Guildford Square and Community Dance Club and the Senior Scouts’ Group celebrated Midsummer’s Day with dancing, barbeque, competitions. 
  • 26 June 1957—First performance of the pageant. 
  • 27 June 1957—Visit of Queen and Prince Philip. 
  • 27 June –7 July 1957—Opening of exhibition in the Castle Grounds by the Guildford Art Society.
  • 2 July 1957—Swimming Gala at the Lido.
  • 3 July 1957—Children’s Day with dancing displays, massed choirs, in Shalford Park. 
  • 6 July 1957—Floodlit dancing in Tunsgate.

Pageant outline

‘Introduction. The Wey Ferryman Brings the Traveller along the Pilgrims’ Way to Guildford

Scene I. 1257. The Charter of Henry the Third

The Townspeople Assemble to greet their sovereign Henry III and his son Prince Edward. Also in attendance are: Queen Eleanor of Provence, the Young Eleanor of Castile and Edmund Crouchback, Earl of Lancaster, a boy of twelve. The King grants the charter to the seneschal and approved men of Guildford.

Scene II. 1266. Prince Edward Finds Sir Adam de Gurdon

Sir Adam de Gurdon, a fugitive from Simon de Montfort’s rebel army, defeated the previous year at Evesham, rests in the Alton Valley. Prince Edward finds him and challenges him in single combat.

Scene III. 1274. The Funeral of Prince Henry

The funeral procession of the young Prince Henry, younger son of Eleanor of Provence, sets forth from Guildford to London. The scene also deals with the building of the Friary by Queen Eleanor, within a few months of the Prince’s death.

Scene IV. 1486. Ballet. The War of the Roses. Sir Reginald Bray at the Marriage of Henry VII with Elizabeth of York

The Ballet opens in the Temple Gardens where the quarrel between the Houses of Lancaster and York comes to a head. Battles follow in different areas of the arena, culminating in the final victory of the Red Rose at the end of which the Crown is retrieved by the Red Knight. A masque of the Roses leads to the wedding procession of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York—the marriage which finally heals the wounds of civil war and leads to the blending of the red and white roses into the Tudor Rose.

Scene V. 1488. The Early Tudor Fair

Amid the bustle of trade and sport, the guild merchants conduct the Piepowder Court, while the town’s officers go about their tasks of ale-tasting and checking weights and measures.

Scene VI. 1488. The Joust

An excited crowd gather to watch the erection of the lists and pavilions as the knights prepare themselves under the supervision of the marshals and heralds. Lances are measured and the knights are sworn to obey the rules of the joust, by the marshal of the day, before returning to their tents to await their turn in the lists. The scene ends with the rewarding of the victors by the Queen of Love and Beauty.

Scene VII. 1507. The Foundation of the Grammar School

The Mayor and Approved Men grant for the building of the grammar school, and the beadle presents the Mayor with a court list.

Scene VIII. 1538. King Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell Visit Guildford. The Dissolution of the Friary

King Henry VIII and his Lord Chancellor, Thomas Cromwell, visit Guildford. Cromwell presses the dissolution of the smaller religious houses, and while the King is entertained by his old friend Sir Richard Weston of Sutton Place, the inventory of the contents of the Friary is made and the confiscation begins.

Scene IX. 1550. The Grammar Schoolboys Play at Cricket while a Bear-Baiting Entertains their Elders

Scene X. 1583. Queen Elizabeth I Visits Guildford on her Way to Loseley and Entertained with a Masque Performed by the Scholars of the Grammar School, ‘The Judgement of Paris’

Scene XI. 1588. Armada Muster

A motley group of men is paraded before the Mayor and their Captain. After a roll call orders are issued and the men are drilled in four sections of Shotte, Archers, Billmen and Pikemen.

Scene XII. 1621. Archbishop Abbot Goes Hunting

Archbishop Abbot is seen hunting with Lord Zouch at Bramshill. The Archbishop is persuaded to shoot with a crossbow, and an unhappy accident in which the keeper Hawkins is hit brings the hunt to a solemn end.

Scene XIII. c.1650. The Civil War

An attempt by Royalist supporters to smuggle cannon from Haslemere foundry and powder from Chilworth through Guildford.

Scene XIV. 1683. The Aylward Clock

Aylward, the clockmaker, reveals his secret [of clockmaking] and in so doing earns his ‘freedom’ to trade within the town.

Scene XV. 1685. The Duke of Monmouth Lodges at Abbot’s Hospital after Sedgemoor

A crowd awaits the arrival of the Duke of Monmouth after his defeat at Sedgemoor on 5 July 1685. He is escorted by a guard of the Queen’s Royal Regiment—Kirke’s Lambs—and lodged in Abbot’s Hospital for the night on his way to the tower and execution.

Scene XVI. c. 1777. Eighteenth-Century Cricket

A match on the Guildford Bason, where many famous games were played. The bats are spooned, the wicket consists of two stumps only, the custom of ‘overarm’ throwing has not yet divided the country and while the scorer cuts the ‘notches’ the game is watched by ‘the quality’ who wager on the result. A quiet scene from the age of elegance.

Scene XVII. 1845. The Arrival of the First Train at Guildford

Guildford en fete for the arrival of the first train. A company had been formed to connect Guildford with Woking on a patent of Mr Prosser, using wooden rails. Another approach to Guildford was planned by ‘Atmospheric Railway’, but the line was completed by the London and South Western Railway amid great rejoicing.

Scene XVIII. 1865. The Guy Riots Suppressed by Mayor Jacob

On 5 November the populace celebrates in rowdy fashion. The Mayor, Mr Jacob, by arming the police with cutlasses and enlisting the services of a troop of Lancers, puts an end to the disgraceful and dangerous riot.

Scene XIX. The Twentieth Century

In 1903 Guildford honoured, by granting the freedom of the Borough to the hero of Mafeking, Col. Baden-Powell, who five years later founded the Scout movement. In 1945 the town honoured the Queen’s Royal Regiment. The busy modern scene is stopped to salute the past and to reveal a symbol of faith in the future—Guildford’s new cathedral.’

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Henry III (1207–1272) king of England and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine
  • Edward I (1239–1307), king of England and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine
  • Eleanor [Eleanor of Provence] (c.1223–1291), queen of England, consort of Henry III
  • Eleanor [Eleanor of Castile] (1241–1290) queen of England, consort of Edward I
  • Gurdun [Gurdon], Sir Adam (c.1220–1305), soldier and rebel
  • Richard of York, third duke of York (1411–1460) magnate and claimant to the English throne
  • Elizabeth [Elizabeth of York] (1466–1503) queen of England, consort of Henry VII
  • Henry VII (1457–1509) king of England and lord of Ireland
  • Bray, Sir Reynold [Reginald] (c.1440–1503) administrator
  • Cromwell, Thomas, earl of Essex (b. in or before 1485, d. 1540) royal minister
  • Henry VIII (1491–1547) king of England and Ireland
  • Weston, Sir Richard (c.1465–1541) courtier
  • Elizabeth I (1533–1603) queen of England and Ireland
  • Scott [formerly Crofts], James, duke of Monmouth and first duke of Buccleuch (1649–1685) politician

Musical production

Guildford Municipal Orchestra and Guildford Festival Choir

Newspaper coverage of pageant

The Manchester Guardian
Surrey Times and Weekly Press

Book of words


Other primary published materials

  • The Pageant of Guildford: Official Programme. London, 1957.

Price: 2s. Available in the British Library.

References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Film of the Queen’s Visit during the pageant. Accessed 4 January 2016, -3428.15.

Sources used in preparation of pageant

  • Chronicles of Nicholas Trivet; and John de Risbridger [unclear what edition or date or place of publication]


The Pageant of Guildford was a relatively large event staged to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the granting of the town’s first charter. It was produced by Christopher Ede—by this point the most famous and prolific of the British pageant-masters. The pageant was one element of a wider programme of celebration put on in the town—from exhibitions to popular amusements—and second in popularity only to the official visit of the Queen and Prince Philip (who even saw part of the performance).5 A minor financial and popular success, and also well-attended, the Pageant of Guildford showed that the strength of pageantry remained quite significant into the later 1950s, at least in some places. Guildford certainly one of these places. The town already had a history of putting on pageants—with ‘The Town of the Ford’ at the Theatre Royal in 1925; the pageant-play ‘This Precious Stone’ at the Guildford Technical School in 1944; a Pageant of Farnham Castle in both 1910 and 1950; and a coronation pageant in Stoke Park in 1953.6 The Guildford Pageant of 1957, however, was the largest and most ambitious yet. It was also notable for the involvement of David Clarke as the production designer. Clarke had his first taste of pageant-making in the 1950 Pageant of Farnham Castle, and went on to become a champion of pageantry in future decades. As he remembered in 2005, the experience in 1957 ‘confirmed in me my desire to become a pageant master at some future date.’7

The Chairman of the Celebrations Committee, H.H. Kimber, also serving Mayor of Guildford, suggested that the town’s celebrations were an example of how local civic pride fitted into a larger narrative of patriotism and identity. As he declared in the programme foreword, ‘The greater loyalties spring from the lesser, and if we are to be proud to be Her Majesty’s subjects in a world-wide Commonwealth and Empire, we are proud, too, to be citizens of a town which has contributed its share to the building of that Empire.’8 At the same time, however, there was a sense of insecurity about the position of town autonomy and local government, reflecting the centralisation of services and power following the post-war rise of the welfare state. As Kimber went on: ‘Now, when the rights and privileges of local government are shrinking, it is well to be reminded that pride of town is the foundation on which pride of country is built, that our rights and privileges as citizens were granted by our Monarchs to us, the people of England, in our cities, towns and counties.’9 The pageant was thus a call to arms, and a template for the future:

To the thousands from other parts of Britain, and from distant countries of the world, who see this Pageant, we say: This is the story of our beautiful town. We are proud of its past glories; we mean to preserve its present individuality and vigour; and our hopes for its future greatness are symbolised in the New Cathedral growing our midst. We feel that we are ‘citizens of no mean city.’10

Historical information in the programme was also used as a rallying call for civic pride in the present. In the information for Scene VII, The Foundation of the Grammar School (1507), it was stated: ‘Today the school is a country grammar school, its scholars Guildford’s future citizens—England’s future statesmen, prelates as well as her scientists and civil servants.’11

In terms of its production, there were nineteen short episodes. As the Manchester Guardian reported, Ede realised this was a ‘larger number than traditional’, but believed it necessary, for ‘a public brought up on the cinema—and now on television—can scarcely bear to look at one incident for much more than ten minutes.’12 In this sense, it was a continuation and further honing of the popularising techniques that had been developed in the 1930s. The pageant covered a bewildering array of different periods and events, using a range of production techniques. Ede clearly played to an audience expecting popular entertainment—there were exciting scenes of duels, jousting, and a ‘Court of Pie Powder’. Cricket also featured heavily in the pageant—likely due to the contemporaneous popularity of cricket in the county, and the fact that the first known ‘documentary reference’ to the game was in Guildford in the 1550s.13 The pageant also, as was still common, concentrated on Royalty. As the Chairman of the Celebrations Committee, H.H. Kimber, also serving Mayor of Guildford, portrayed the visit of the Queen as the latest in a long line of examples of royal patronage.14 As at the Pageant of Newark in 1936, when Ede had been Assistant Producer,15 an allegorical ballet scene was used to visualise the War of the Roses (choreographed this time by Bice Bellairs). The Surrey Times and Weekly Press described this as ‘pure entertainment and one of the best scenes in the pageant.’16 In 1959, Christopher Ede again used an allegorical ballet, this time at the Bury St Edmunds Magna Carta Pageant (to visualise the rise and spread of the ideals embodied in the great document).17 Ede also chose to use off-stage voiceovers, to which performers on the stage mimed along—a technique he again used at Bury St Edmunds.18

The Manchester Guardian concluded that Ede had ‘made a proud job of the pageant’ and that it did ‘what pageants should do: by its setting, grouping, clothing, and rehearsed movement, it catches the eye as a spectacle, raises, occasionally, a laugh at outdated antics performed with gusto, and, doubtless, among a few of the spectators, brings an old-fashioned tear or two over the splendours of history’.19 The Surrey Times and Weekly Press described the pageant as having ‘all the nostalgic charm of a family album.’ The audience, apparently, showed ‘great delight’ when shown ‘anything with which they have some personal association—the boys of the Royal Grammar School, an early cricket match [or] the Queen’s Royal Regiment.’20 The ‘remarkable array of costumes’, the ‘excellence of the miming and of action by small parts’, ‘the beautiful spoken words’, and ‘the tremendous build-up of the finale’ were also commended. The newspaper did also have some criticisms, however—particularly the Grammar School episode, which did not show the actual founding, but a less ‘exciting’ visualisation of a conversation between a group of men in one corner and boys throwing things around in the other; the difficulty of being able to see all the action from far away; and the inadequate lighting later in the evening. Overall, ‘the pageant had many excellent features, some minor faults and one or two major ones.’21

Overall, the pageant was a success. 41000 people saw a performance, and the profit was around £1000—approximately £17420 in today’s money. At the end of the pageant, Kimber, who had also taken the role of the Mayor in the Guy Riots Scene, thanked everyone for attending. Ede was then presented with a glass goblet engraved with the crown scroll and the charter celebrations symbol, and carried around the arena to the singing of ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow’.22 The pageant seemingly continued the passion for performance in Surrey and, in 1968 and 1977, other Pageants of Guildford were staged by David Clarke. While, in general terms, the pageantry movement had arguably lost some of its oomph by the late 1950s, certain events were still capable of drawing in a respectable crowd.


  1. ^ ‘The Shouting and Tumult Dies’, Surrey Times and Weekly Press, 12 July 1957, 6.
  2. ^ ‘It’s Such Fun, playing in a pageant’, Surrey Times and Weekly Press (6th July 1957), p. 6.
  3. ^ Information taken from ‘Fortnight of festivity is ready for you’, Surrey Times and Weekly Press (15th June 1957), p. 1.
  4. ^ The Pageant of Guildford: Official Programme (London, 1957).
  5. ^ ‘Guildford’s Proud Pageant’, Manchester Guardian, 28 June 1957, 7.
  6. ^ David Clarke, ‘Historical Pageantry for 100 years’, GetSurrey, 24 June 2005, accessed 29 September 2015,
  7. ^ Ibid.
  8. ^ The Pageant of Guildford: Official Programme (London, 1957), no page numbers.
  9. ^ Ibid. no page numbers.
  10. ^ Ibid. no page numbers.
  11. ^ Ibid. no page numbers.
  12. ^ ‘Borough Frowned upon its “Creckett” Pioneer’, Manchester Guardian, 8 May 1957, 7.
  13. ^ The Pageant of Guildford: Official Programme. no page numbers.
  14. ^ Ibid. no page numbers.
  15. ^ See Newark 1936 proforma.
  16. ^ ‘Guildford’s Living Family Album’, Surrey Times and Weekly Press, 29 June 1957, 7.
  17. ^ See Bury St Edmunds 1959 proforma.
  18. ^ ‘Some of the People who Put on the Pageant’, Surrey Times and Weekly Press, 29 June 1957, 9.
  19. ^ ‘Guildford’s Proud Pageant’, 7.
  20. ^ ‘Guildford’s Living Family Album’, 7.
  21. ^ Ibid., 7.
  22. ^ ‘The Shouting and Tumult Dies’, Surrey Times and Weekly Press, 12 July 1957, 6.

How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘The Pageant of Guildford 1957’, The Redress of the Past,