A Chapter of the Ancient History of Tonge

Pageant type

Jump to Summary


Place: No information (Tonge) (Tonge, Kent, England)

Year: 1937

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 1


12 May 1937

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Compiled by [Pageant Master]: Wood, Walter F.

Names of executive committee or equivalent


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

  • Wood, Walter F.

Names of composers


Numbers of performers


Financial information


Object of any funds raised


Linked occasion

The Coronation of George V

Audience information

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Associated events


Pageant outline

Episode I. Landing of Hengist and Horsa at Ebbsfleet

Episode II. Hengist and Horsa welcomed to Durolevum

Episode III. The Combined forces, Britons under Vortigern and his two sons, Vortimer and Catigern; and the Saxons, under Hengist and Horsa, march out to fight the Picts and Scots.

Episode IV. The Battle in Lincolnshire – Victory of Britons

Episode V. The Britons welcome back the victorious army to Durolevum

Episode VI. Conference between Vortigern and Hengist, at which Vortigern gives to Hengist a ‘Hide of Land.’

Episode VII. Horsa departs for the Continent to collect reinforcements.

Episode VIII. Hengist builds the Castle of Tonge.

Episode IX. Great welcome to Horsa and the new contingent. Rowena arrives.

Episode X. Banquet where Rowena fascinates Vortigern. Incident of the Wassail cup.

Episode XI. Vortigern courts and proposes marriage to Rowena.

Episode XII. Marriage of Vortigern and Rowena.

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Hengist (d. 488?)
  • Horsa (d. 455?)
  • Vortigern [Gwrtheyrn] (fl. 5th cent.) ruler in Britain

Musical production


Newspaper coverage of pageant


Book of words

A Miniature Pageant portraying one chapter of the Ancient History of Tonge. Sittingbourne, 1937.

Other primary published materials


References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Copy of the Book of Words in Kent History and Library Centre, Reference K Tonge WOO

Sources used in preparation of pageant



Billed as a ‘miniature pageant’ this was a very small-scale affair. It was likely performed just once, on 12 May 1937, and seems to have been connected to the 1937 Coronation Celebrations (Herne Bay also held a Coronation Pageant). The focus of the pageant was entirely on the very early history of the tiny hamlet of Tonge, and in particular the arrival of the Saxon leaders Hengist and Horsa sometime in the later fifth century, the former believed to have founded the castle at Tonge. It appears that the pageant was keen to emphasize amity, rather than enmity, between the native Britons and the Saxon newcomers. In Episode III a combined force of Britons and Saxon sally forth to Lincolnshire to confront the Picts and Scots, while the climax of the pageant comes with the marriage of the Saxon Rowena (daughter of Hengist) to the British king Vortigern, who later generations would see as responsible for having invited the Anglo-Saxons to Britain.1   


1. ^ David E. Thornton, ‘Vortigern (fl. 5th cent.)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/28354, accessed 21 Feb 2017]

How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘A Chapter of the Ancient History of Tonge’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1466/