The Southampton Tudor Pageant
Place: St Mary’s Church Deanery (Southampton) (Southampton, Hampshire, England)
Number of performances: 15
10–24 June 1914
- 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 June at 7pm
- 13 and 20 June at 4pm
- Matinee performances on 10 and 17 June at 2.30pm
- Three extra performances the following week 22, 23 and 24 June at 7pm
Name of pageant master and other named staff
- Pageant-master: Lovett, Neville
- Music: Mr George Leake, Mus.Bac., FRCO, ARCM, LRAM
- Cartage: Mr G.R. Finn; Mr F.T. Pitt
- Designing Poster: Miss Vavasour (Southampton School of Art)
- Engraving: Mr Alford
- Property Master: Mr A.L. Dalgarno
- Master of the Horse: Rev. T.L.T. Fisher
- School Children Marshals: Messrs Waugh and Smith
- Fiddler: Mr Alec Dalgarno
Names of executive committee or equivalent
- President: The Rev. E. Neville Lovett, MA, Rural Dean
- Chairman: Mr A.I. Russell, Churchwarden
- Mr A.L. Dalgarno
- Mr Geo. Prince, Jnr.
- Mr H.G. Heaver
- Mr C.J. Sharp, Churchwarden
- Mr A.Farrant
- Mr H.A. Symes
- Mr G.H. Muir
- Hon. Treasurer: Mr G.A. Waller
- Mr F.T. Pitt
- Hon. Secretary: Mr R.J. Biles
- Mrs T.A. Crook
- Mrs A. Farrant
- Mrs G.H. Wallage
Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)
Names of composers
- Elgar, Edward
Numbers of performers
Object of any funds raised
St Mary’s Church Spire Fund.
A balance of £2000 needed to be raised towards the cost of completing the works.1
- Grandstand: Yes
- Grandstand capacity: 1000
- Total audience: n/a
Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest
Stand tickets: 5s. and 2s. 6d. reserved; 1s. unreserved. Standing Room: 6d.
Pageant supper in the Deanery grounds after the final performance.
The Spirit of the Past enters and speaks to the audience, describing how the pageant will tell ‘one chapter of that mighty tale’, the glory of the Tudor period. She makes it clear, however, that this will be the tale of Hampton and its people, with only ‘glimpses’ of national figures and stories, and nothing of the ‘dread throes of Church and State, the plans of monarchs weighing England’s fate’. She emphasises how, as in the present, there were both good and bad people. She then gives an overview of the narrative of the pageant, and, despite her previous proclamations, links the history of England with that of Hampton. She ends by declaring ‘Such ancient footprints trace we here for you, Humbly we crave that mercifully you’ll view, Our lines imperfect, and our failing voices, Our debts have made us players, not our choices.’
Episode I. 1498
Two citizens enter, as does a foreign pilgrim. The citizens discuss the merits and downsides of being a pilgrim, one expressing his belief that it is an easy life. The pilgrim approaches, asking for money under the pretence that another pilgrim has taken his purse. The citizens see through his deception and send him on his way. At this point several real pilgrims enter, singing and led by the Vicar of Holy Rood, on their way to Hampton. The Rector of St Mary’s approaches, and debates with the Vicar whether St Mary’s is the Mother Church or a mere parish church. A small crowd enters, the Mayor of Southampton (Vincent They), leading in a prisoner, Perkin Warbeck, pretender to the throne. Townsmen and citizens excitedly declare Warbeck the rightful King. The Mayor rebukes the excited crowd, declaring Warbeck a mere ‘kitchen knave’ for whom he intends to claim a ransom. John Elmes, a man of local honest reputation, comes forward and explains that the Mayor will use the ransom for a grand feast of roast beef and ale—defusing the situation. At this point the audience fickly side with the Mayor. All exit.
‘The Roast Beef of Old England’ (song): A song about roast beef as the epitome of the spirit and character of England and Hampton is then sung.
Episode II. 1525
The episode begins with children dancing and singing ‘Would you Know how Doth the Peasant?’ as they mime the actions of sowing, reaping, and threshing. The Abbot of Waverly then approaches; children and townsmen gather around. The townsmen worry about the plague and its effect on the local crops and people. The Abbot tells the men to get away from him lest he is infected. The Abbot sends for Master Mayor Hutoft, a man who influenced the Abbot’s appointment; Hutoft subsequently arrives. He and other members of the crowd kneel for the Abbot’s blessing. Hutoft invites the Abbot in, which invitation he rejects due to the plague. Hutoft explains that his house is blessed, but the Abbot decides not to take his chances. Hutoft tells the Abbot how an Italian villain, Guidotti, has left his daughter and stolen his money, returning to Italy. Hutoft hopes that, having written a pleading letter to Sir Thomas Cromwell, he will be given leniency in his inability to now pay the King’s Exchequer. At that moment a messenger from Cromwell arrives and announces that the King will be attending in person shortly. Hutoft bids the townsmen to gather the city guard, alderman and burgesses to receive King Henry in a manner worthy of the town. All leave. A widow woman, Brydget Cowrad, comes out alone waving a letter from the King, which tells her to marry one William Simmonds. King Henry VIII, Queen Catherine of Aragon, and their company approach, to wild cheers. Henry quips to Hutoft that ‘a foreign spouse is the very devil’. Catherine and Henry exchange points about love and the watchful eye of heaven. Henry tells Hutoft that he will let him off the money he owes the exchequer, before expressing his wish to see Baltasar, the famous gun maker. Henry expresses his joy at being in the town once more.
‘The Hung is Up’ (Song): A short ditty about the King’s Hunt
Episode III. 1527
A group of citizens, including Thomas Shuxborow, Lawrence Sudie and Richard Ebner enter, discussing the prosperity of the town and its shore fortifications. A sound of chanting is heard in the distance as Cardinal Wolsey and his retinue approach; Wolsey asks the guard of the town gates to bring the Mayor. Abbot Netley then approaches with a group of singing monks, followed soon after by the Prior of St Denys and the Abbot of Beaulieu. Much humorous confusion follows as the Abbots and Prior talk over or repeat each other’s utterances. Eventually they come to discuss the proposed dissolution of the monasteries. Wolsey defends Henry as a champion of the faith. The Mayor and the Corporation then enter, chastised by Wolsey for taking too long. The Mayor claims that the wool trade has been poor; Wolsey does not believe him. After a man in the crowd shouts ‘down with the monks’, Wolsey reacts with anger, asking the Mayor if he has stocks. The Mayor answers in the affirmative but declares that they cannot be used for free men of the town; they jostle over who has the right to arrest the man, with Wolsey winning. The man is seized and pinioned. All but the crowd exit. Various locals discuss King Henry VIII and his actions against the monks, and what will become of Wolsey—one arguing that Wolsey will do well out of any dissolution. At this point the monks come past, singing the ‘Dies Irae’, having been evicted.
Untitled Song about Market Day: a short ditty about the food and gossip of the local market.
Episode IV. 1551
Young people enter, singing and celebrating May Day; a Morris Dance is then performed. After this, the new Mayor Richard Butler and the Corporation come out. Butler is congratulated by some townspeople and assures them that much feasting will happen under his reign. They discuss the price of beer and the morality of drinking—the Mayor seemingly planning on raising the price. At that point the aforementioned Guidotti enters with a crowd of children—ostensibly arrived to make amends for his previous ill-deed; he declares that more schools are needed. In verbose terms the Mayor describes his claim as nonsense. When one man, Fuller, mocks the Mayor’s speech, he is put in the pillory. Guidotti presents a charter from the King granting a Grammar School, in Latin, which is read out by the Town Clerk. A Mrs Faskin interrupts and asks the Mayor if he is in favour of women. The Mayor replies, ‘what flexibility have women for literal instruction?’ to which she replies, ‘A woman can speak plain, which is more than some folks seem able to do.’ The Mayor threatens her with the stocks for this quip. The Town Clerk details how there will be free books and holidays, to cheers, but also canes for the preservation of tutelage, to groans. Guidotti asks if he has made amends, to which the Mayor replies: ‘Passably well for a foreigner.’ A Maypole Dance is then performed by the children. All exit.
A Dance: A Maypole dance and song is performed by the children of the town.
Episode V. 1554
The beadles bring in Larry Darvill and Andrew Stove and put them in the stocks. Larry, the son of a sheriff, argues with the Beadle, who threatens him with being sent to Bedlam. Larry asks Andrew what he has done; Andrew replies that he ‘broke’ Robert Hews head, drawing blood. The beadle tells Andrew he may hang for his crime, due to Hews’ status as an Alderman. The men complain that they are hungry and poor, and no longer have any monks to aid them. Some citizens discuss the prospect of a Poor Law. People then gather to see the passing of ‘His Spanish Majesty’ Philip on his way to Winchester. Philip and his retinue arrive and are addressed loyally by the Mayor, while the crowd angrily cries ‘Down with the Spaniard’ and ‘No foreign King here’. Philip replies ‘Good, Master Mayor, cut thy loyalty as short as they fellow townsmen methinks, find theirs.’ The King threatens the audience, to jeers and thrown garbage. The crowd rushes on the procession, forced back by Philip’s men. Philip hastily rides away. A straggler, a Spanish servant, is caught by the crowd, who tease him. Eventually, at the request of the Mayor, they release him. All exit.
‘Here Come Three Knights’ (song): An Old English action song about three knights who come from Spain to court a local woman called Jane.
Episode VI. 1566
Nicholas Capelin and Peter Janverin enter and play bowls, as other townsmen watch on. The Mayor, Robert Eyre, and his beadles enter—the Mayor angered at the bowls playing since this had been outlawed by the Corporation. As the Sheriff explains, archery was being neglected—which was especially grave due to the current tensions with Spain. As the Mayor argues with Capelin, some of the other townsmen tell of other locals breaking the games law. The Mayor confiscates the bowls. Sounds of rejoicing are heard as Sir Richard Hawkins and his crew approach, singing ‘And Johnny Shall Have a New Bonnet’, celebrating the spoils they have taken from the Spanish mainland. Hawkins announces that he has come to see the Queen, who he is expecting. The Beadles announce excitedly that the Queen approaches; she rides in amidst cheers. The Queen welcomes Hawkins home and eagerly asks him what treasures he has obtained. Hawkins declares himself and his men as loyal men of the Queen—but is surprised when she declares that they are not her men if they are harrying her cousin the King of Spain. He declares that he may then be a pirate; the Queen reassures him that he is not and is instead a brave Englishman. The Mayor invites the Queen into Southampton, which she happily and eagerly accepts. All exit.
‘An Old Chanty’, (Chanty): a short ditty about a young boy called Johnny.
Episode VII. 1588
Robert Knaplock, Bernard Courtmill, Rector of St Marys, and John a’ Deane enter, arguing about the predominance of foreign traders in the town, from abroad and within England—contravening, they believe, the laws in support of burgesses. Children and others arrive and perform the song, ‘The Jollie Miller’. A seafarer rushes in bringing news of the approach of the Spanish Armada. Panic ensues, as the men rush to take up arms. As the men prepare another messenger arrives bearing the news that the Armada has been defeated; all cheer, and praise God. General rejoicing ensues, before all exit.
Episode VIII. 1603
Philip Toldervey, John Ellzie and others discuss the impending death of ‘Queen Bess’, and her long and successful life—lamenting that she was never wife or mother. They discuss who will succeed Elizabeth on the throne, making disparaging remarks about the Scottish and their habits of food and dress. The Mayor enters, looking for the Rector, who arrives soon after. The Mayor informs the Rector that it has been regrettably decided that St Mary’s Church and spire must be removed due to it ‘offering as it doth a guidance to the pirates and the Queen’s foes, whereby they must be attracted to this town.’ The Rector reacts with shock and disbelief, comparing it to the slaughter of one’s own parent. The Mayor’s statement that ‘there are other churches in the town’ provokes more ire. Their argument is interrupted by a galloping messenger, who brings the news that the Queen is dead, to which the crowd reacts with great emotion. The Rector predicts that in the future another woman shall sit on the throne—an even greater Queen, who will reign even longer than Elizabeth (obviously referring to Queen Victoria). He further says: ‘In her day shall the England that the Tudors have made strong in battle, and in commerce, wax to Empire great as Spain and far greater. That Empire shall feed the world with freedom and with justice and that Queen shall be beloved of her people’. He further predicts that, when such a day comes, St Mary’s will also be rebuilt better and even nobler than before. The Mayor, despite the cynicism of the Rector, promises that when that day comes the corporation will wholeheartedly support the church. The Rector finally replies: ‘Then happy shall they be who see that day; but no, Mayor, thou cans’t not bind thine after-fellows; yet it may be that if the Mayor and Corporation fail, the good people will of their charity, do this thing.’ All exit.
‘Land of Hope and Glory’.
Key historical figures mentioned
- Warbeck, Perkin [Pierrechon de Werbecque; alias Richard Plantagenet, duke of York] (c.1474–1499) impostor and claimant to the English throne Mayor Henry Hutoft
- Henry VIII (1491–1547) king of England and Ireland
- Katherine [Catalina, Catherine, Katherine of Aragon] (1485–1536) queen of England, first consort of Henry VIII
- Wolsey, Thomas (1470/71–1530) royal minister, archbishop of York, and cardinal
- Philip [Philip II of Spain, Felipe II] (1527–1598) king of England and Ireland, consort of Mary I (1516–1558) queen of England and Ireland
- Elizabeth I (1533–1603) queen of England and Ireland
- Hawkins [Hawkyns], Sir Richard (c.1560–1622) naval officer
An orchestra performed the following pieces:
- ‘The Roast Beef of Old England’. Words adapted (Episode I).
- ‘Would You Know how Doth the Peasant?’ (Episode II).
- ‘The Hunt is Up’ (Episode II).
- ‘Dies Irae’. Chant (Episode III).
- Untitled song about Market Day (Episode III).
- A Dance (Episode IV).
- ‘And Johnny Shall Have a New Bonnet’ (Episode V).
- ‘Here Come Three Knights’ (Episode V).
- ‘An Old Chanty’ (Episode VI).
- ‘The Jolly Miller’ (Episode VII).
- ‘Now Thank We All Our God’ (Episode VII).
- Edward Elgar. ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ (Episode VIII).
Newspaper coverage of pageant
Southampton Daily Echo
Book of words
- Scenes from Tudor Southampton Setting Forth in Pageantry (Southampton, 1914).
Price 6d. Copy available in Southampton Archives. D/Z 368/1.
Other primary published materials
References in secondary literature
- Hammond, Michael. ‘Southampton, the Great War and the Cinema’. In Southampton: Gateway to the Empire, edited by Miles Taylor. London, 2007. At 165.
Archival holdings connected to pageant
- The Pageant ‘Tudor Southampton’ postcards. Southampton Archives. P0480/001-30.
Sources used in preparation of pageant
- Davies, John Silvester. A History of Southampton. Partly from the MS. of Dr Speed, in the Southampton Archives. Southampton, 1883.
- Publications of the Southampton Record Society.
The Tudor Pageant of 1914 was the first major pageant to take place in Southampton in the twentieth century. It was the invention of the new rector of St Mary’s Church, Reverend Neville Lovett, who had previous experience of producing a historical tableaux of Farnham in 1909 and a pageant of Georgian Farnham in 1912.2 While it was billed as a pageant of Southampton, its purpose was much more parochial, concerned primarily with raising the £2000 needed to complete building works to the church spire, the actors and organisers drawn mainly from the congregation.3 Lovett was clear about this, arguing in the book of words that the pageant was ‘to be taken as a Parish Pageant… designed to enable St Mary’s folk, with the aid of some kind and distinguished neighbours, to represent the ordinary town life of Tudor times.’4 In the prologue of the pageant, the Spirit of the Past, played by Lovett’s daughter, Myra, emphasised that it would indeed be a tale of ‘Hampton and its people’, with only ‘glimpses’ of national figures and stories, and nothing of the ‘dread throes of Church and State, the plans of monarchs weighing England’s fate’.5 Bearing this in mind, Lovett made a concerted effort to research the local history of the town, and all characters included were people who lived in Southampton at the time represented.6
Despite its concentration on a single epoch of history, rather than taking a longer time-span with more historically distinct episodes, many of the themes were easily relatable to other historical pageants of the period. Lovett was determined that the pageant should not ‘point a moral or push a political or ecclesiastical position’; instead, he was more interested in showing what the experience of living in a sixteenth-century town was like for all people and classes.7 As was common with other pageants, however, visits of Kings and Queens still occurred. Vitally though, and in tune with Louis Parker’s original vision, they were utilised as a method of displaying the importance of the locality; in Episode II, Henry VIII expressed his joy at being back in the town once more, while, in Episode VI, Elizabeth I eagerly accepted the Mayor’s invitation to travel into the town. Nationally important events were also portrayed—such as the dissolution of the monasteries and the defeat of the Spanish Armada—but, similarly to the visits of royalty, these occurrences were related to the framework of local culture and seen through the lens of how they would affect the town. Indeed, it was local culture that provided the light-hearted humour and the majority of the dialogue and action, for example the putting in the pillory of various local vagrants in Episode V or the confiscation of bowls in Episode VI. This humorous atmosphere was further encouraged in the whimsical ditties and dances that followed most episodes, such as the song about roast beef in Episode I and the song about the local market day in Episode III.
While local history and civic pride was important, the purpose of the pageant was ultimately orientated towards the specific task of maintaining the church. Lovett, after all, was new to the town, ‘compelled to resort to this means of raising funds before he has had time or opportunity to achieve a scholarly acquaintance with the brilliant history of the town in which he is so fortunate as to find himself.’8 While he hoped that the pageant would ‘give many people an increased interest in the historic past of this fine old Town’, he was open about ‘at the same time materially reduc[ing] the debt upon the new Spire.’9 Concerned primarily with profit, then, the Executive Committee took the financially astute decision to ban members of the public from taking photographs in the pageant crowds, selling the sole rights to one man—Max Mills.10 The final exchange of the pageant came back to the aim of the enterprise, as the Mayor and Rector of St Mary’s Church in 1603 debated how the rebuilding of the church would be funded. While the Mayor promised that the corporation would wholeheartedly support the construction, one can almost hear Lovett’s voice in the Tudor Rector when he replied: ‘it may be that if the Mayor and Corporation fail, the good people’ will give their own ‘charity’ instead.11 The responsibility of funding the contemporary church rebuilding was thus made very clear through the dictum of the Tudor Rector. Viewed in this way, the Tudor Pageant of 1914 supports Ayako Yoshino’s recent contention that Edwardian pageants were commercially orientated, and provides an example of a pageant-master who was especially open about this purpose.12 Indeed, Lovett was well aware of how to undertake pageants, having researched or written episodes for the pageants at Sherborne, Romsey, and the Isle of Wight, and undertaken his own at Farnham.13
Despite the narrative being confined to events over 350 years old, the pageant was still used to make a statement about the contemporary ‘modern’ governance of the town. In the book of words, directly before the first episode, the differences between ‘Ancient and Modern’ Southampton were pointed out. Comparing the present day was an ‘inevitable’ consequence of the ‘contemplation of the conditions under which the inhabitants then lived’. The Tudor visit to the town, argued the book, ‘would not fail to contrast the favourable conditions under which the modern townsman lives… and one could imagine their amazement at the extent to which the public welfare and comfort is studied in regard to sanitation, water supply, and the public utility services generally.’14 Singled out for particular praise was the public supply of electricity, its effects ‘remarkable’ for both health and industry, and in providing ‘ideal conditions’ for townsfolk of even ‘the most moderate means.’ Finishing with a plug for the Electricity Showrooms of the Corporation Electricity Department, it seems likely that the corporation of Southampton had some input.15
According to the Hampshire Advertiser, in the run up to the first performance ‘additional interest’ would likely be aroused by the ‘several very prominent and esteemed Southamptonians’ taking roles.16 The Mayor, William Bagshaw, when present, took the part of one of the Tudor Mayors, and former Mayor, Sir George Hussey, took the role of Henry VIII. Perhaps most notable was Dr Russell Bencraft, the famous cricketer, playing Cardinal Wolsey.17 The organisers also achieved an impressive coup with the securing of Richard Haldane, current Lord Chancellor, to open the pageant; commenting favourably, he described as striking the way that the ‘company were so well together’, the pageant being ‘wonderful for amateurs.’18 Popular enough to be restaged an extra three times the following week, the pageant was also praised by the local press. Picking up on Lovett’s decision to avoid political and religious controversies, the newspaper judged his attempt as ‘quite successful’ and congratulated the Reverend more generally ‘upon a very remarkable artistic triumph.’19 The performers, too, came in for ‘high praise’—all having ‘come forward willingly, moved by the one desire to help secure the funds necessary’ for the church.20 This ‘spirit of good comradeship’, ‘One of the finest features’ of the pageant, according to the Advertiser, was cemented in a pageant supper in the Deanery grounds after the final performance. Presenting Lovett with a silver-cased tobacco cabinet, the chairman of the Executive Committee, Mr Russell, described how the gift would help him feel, ‘when the pageant has passed away and years have rolled between, that he has something to look upon and feel that all those friends who rallied round him in their pageant days are his friends still.’ To thunderous applause Lovett then addressed the performers, declaring his hope that the Tudor Southampton pageant would act as a sermon to the present-day town, ‘showing that the things they had, had been received through the labour, laughter, and tears of their forefathers.’ Clasping hands, the company sang ‘Auld Lang Syne’.21
In the month following the pageant, the Hampshire Advertiser correctly contextualised Southampton’s effort as part of the ‘movement throughout the country’ that was attempting to ‘capture and embody in works of dramatic art the spirit of places and their peoples, to reproduce scenes from local history or tradition, to catch the echo of old dialects, and to paint quaint customs that are quickly passing away.’ The welcome effect of this movement was ‘its intensification of local life’ and stimulation of an ‘unfortunately fast fading patriotism’. For those who took part or spectated, no longer would Southampton be seen as ‘merely a place in which to sleep and wake, to work and play’.22 In a sense, the Tudor Pageant of 1914 set the theme for Southampton’s engagement with pageantry throughout the first half of the twentieth century. In following pageants, like the Mayflower Pageant of 1920, the Hampton Pageant of 1929, and the Silver Jubilee Pageant of 1935, all of which also proved to be popular, different formats of presentation and production were again explored. Both Lovett and his daughter continued to be involved in local pageantry—particularly in the 1920 pageant as the producer and author team and in 1929 as guests of honour. Myra Lovett (now Moloney) also reappeared as the spirit of a Christian martyr in the 1932 Porchester Pageant play ‘Hunger’, which she wrote of which Lovett, now Bishop of Portsmouth, was the President of the Executive Committee.
- ‘A Southampton Pageant’, The Times, 30 May 1914, 6.
- ‘Dr Neville Lovett’, The Times, 10 September 1951, 6.
- A Southampton Pageant’, The Times, 30 May 1914, 6.
- Scenes from Tudor Southampton Setting Forth in Pageantry (Southampton, 1914), 3.
- Scenes from Tudor Southampton Setting Forth in Pageantry (Southampton, 1914), 9-11.
- Scenes from Tudor Southampton Setting Forth in Pageantry (Southampton, 1914), 13.
- Scenes from Tudor Southampton Setting Forth in Pageantry (Southampton, 1914), 3.
- Ibid., 3.
- Ibid., 3.
- Ibid., 3.
- Ibid., 75.
- Ayako Yoshino, Pageant Fever: Local History and Consumerism in Edwardian England (Tokyo, 2011), 69-92.
- Scenes from Tudor Southampton, 3.
- Ibid., 12.
- Ibid., 12.
- ‘Tudor Southampton’, Hampshire Advertiser, 30 May 1914, 3.
- Ibid., 3.
- ‘Tudor Southampton’, Hampshire Advertiser, 27 June 1914, 4.
- ‘Tudor Southampton’, Hampshire Advertiser, 30 May 1914, 3; ‘Tudor Southampton’, Hampshire Advertiser, 13 June 1914, 4.
- ‘Tudor Southampton’, Hampshire Advertiser, 13 June 1914, 4.
- Ibid., 4.
- ‘A Postscript to the Pageant’, Hampshire Advertiser, 4 July 1914, 3.
How to cite this entry
Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘The Southampton Tudor Pageant’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1199/