Army Pageant

Pageant type

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Place: Fulham Palace (Fulham) (Fulham, Middlesex, England)

Year: 1910

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 19


20 June–2 July 1910

Afternoon performances at 3pm; evening performances on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 8pm.

19 proper performances and 2 public dress rehearsals (17 and 18 June to which school children were invited).

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Master of the Pageant [Pageant Master]: Benson, F.R.
  • Hon Secretary: Major Algernon Tudor Craig
  • Mistress of the Robes: Miss Lorna Burn-Murdoch
  • Master of the Horse and Ordnance: Lieut-Col G.R. Talbot, 4th Wessex Brigade, RFA, TF
  • Hon Medical Officer: Col Lees Hall, RAMC
  • Historian: Owen Vaughan
  • Armourer: C.J. Ffoulkes
  • Musical Director: Christopher Wilson
  • Stage Manager: John Douglas

Names of executive committee or equivalent

  • Chairman of Committees: Major-Gen Lord Cheylesmore, KCVO

General Committee:

  • Vice-Chairman: Lt-Gen G.H. Moncrieff
  • Major-Gen Sir H.G. Miles, KCB, CVO
  • Col Hon F.L. Colborne
  • Surg-Gen H.S. Muir, CB
  • Captain G.L. Courthope, MP
  • Major Malcolm Murray, CVO
  • Col G.J. Cuthbert
  • Col P.C. Newbigging
  • Col G. Wentworth Forbes
  • Rev J.W. Pickance
  • Gen Sir John French, GCB, GCVO
  • Major Sir F.C. Rasch, Bart
  • Col R.G. Gordon Gilmour, CB, MVO, DSO
  • Herbert de Rougemont, Esq.
  • F-M Lord Grenfell, GCB, GCMG
  • F-M Earl Roberts, VC, KG
  • Col F.C. Ricardo, CVO
  • Major-Gen, Sir C.F. Hadden, KCB
  • Lt-Gen Sir H. Smith-Dorrien, KCB
  • Rt Hon R.B. Haldane, KC, MP
  • Lt-Gen Hon Sir F. Stopford, KCMG, KCVO
  • Gen Sir Ian Hamilton, KCB, DSO
  • The Bishop of London
  • Rt Rev Bishop J. Taylor Smith, CVO
  • Lt Gerald Maltby, RN, MVO
  • Lt-Col A.G. Tatham, RMA
  • Admiral Sir Albert Markham, KCB
  • The Duke of Wellington, KG, GCVO
  • Major Evan Martin, MVO
  • F-M Sir George White, VC, GCB, OM
  • Col F.I. Maxse, CVO, CB

Finance Committee:

  • Hon Treasurer: Mackworth Praed, Esq.
  • plus 6 men

Advisory Committee:

  • 32 men


HM Queen Alexandra
HRH The Princess Royal and Duke of Fife
TRH The Duke and Duchess of Connaught
TRH Prince and Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein
HRH Princess Henry of Battenberg
The Secretary of State for War and the Army Council
Over 300 nobility (Dukes, Marquesses, Earls, Countesses, Lords and Ladies); Generals, Majors and Lieutenants.

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

  • Helena, Princess [HRH Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein]
  • Baden-Powell, Sir Robert S.S.
  • Balfour, Col. A.G.
  • Benson, F.R.
  • Battersby, H.F.
  • Burke, H. Farnham
  • Chalmers, Hugh
  • Cheylesmore, Maj.-Gen the Lord
  • Craig, Major Algernon Tudor
  • Dauglish, Col. G.V.
  • Dorling, Rev. E.E.
  • Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur
  • Ffoulkes, C.J.
  • Fortescu, Hon. John
  • Hughes, Col. A.J.
  • Laking, Guy
  • Oman, Charles
  • Peers, C.R.
  • Vaughan, Owen
  • Roberts, F.S., the Earl
  • Rodway, A.
  • Ward, Col. B.R.
  • Shakespeare, William


Excerpts from Shakespeare’s King John and Henry V featured in Episode VII

Names of composers


Numbers of performers


More than 2000 officers and men from various depots to depict the various battle scenes. Between 1500–2000 civilian performers.300–400 horses.

Financial information

The pageant made a loss, though it is unclear by how much.

Object of any funds raised

In aid of the Incorporated Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Help Society

Linked occasion


Audience information

  • Grandstand: Yes
  • Grandstand capacity: 7000
  • Total audience: 100000


Same grandstand as English Church Pageant.

It is estimated that the pageant was visited by over 100000 persons.2

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Afternoon seats: 42s., 21s., 10s. 6d., 5s., 3s.

Evening Seats: 21s., 12s. 6d., 6s., 2s. 6d., 1s.

Associated events


Pageant outline

Introduction (A). The Crucible of the Cymry, the Island Races of the Brother Peoples—Ivernians, Gaels, Scots, Picts, Brythons, Belgae, and Saxons

This scene depicts conflict between inland men, and shoremen, as the former search inland for food. After first being beaten back, one of the shoremen ‘discovers’ a flint; he attaches it to his club, as do his compatriots, and they beat back the inland men. The scene ends with the victorious shoremen seizing the women, and taking a male prisoner for a cannibal feast.

The Invernians—The Dolmen Builders, c. 1700 BC

Early Picts and Ivernians train for battle, using various weapons (such as knifes and bow and arrow), and playing games with javelins and balls. Domestic work also takes place, such as ploughing and weaving wattle, as does some social fun – such as dancing. Gradually the dancers leave, and Dolmen Builders work with metal, before bringing in flocks and herds of animals. They offer their products to the Sun, and also celebrate other pagan symbols such as mistletoe and the green bough. They also make weapons from bonze, as well as musical instruments from trumpets to harps. Gradually they move off, their chariots leading the way, with women and children are in the middle, the flocks and herds behind.

The Goidal—Gadhael, or Gael, 700 BC

The Gadhael (or Goidal) are depicted - rounder headed and lighter in skin. With better weapons and military organisation, they drive off the Picts and Ivernians. Instead of fruit and animal offerings to the Gods, they give a human victim. The warriors march off first, with scouts ahead, and women and children at the back. They bring with them the coracle' used as a shield for protection on land, and to cross rivers in the course of their march.

The Brythons, or Britons

Next come Brythons (Britons) with iron lances and better formation, and also with musical instruments.

The Belgae, c. 170 BC

The last of the Celtic tribes to pass through are the Belgae, notable for their more advanced farming of cattle and sheep, and wheat growing, ploughing and manuring. They also have better weapons. They march in military formation, cavalry scouts leading and on the flank and rear. Chariots are supported by infantry, finally followed by women and children drawn in ox wagons (in turn followed by the cattle).

Introduction (B). The Romans. ‘The Coming of the Disciplined Man’

The scene is a cornfield between Canterbury and Dover. Britons (Belgae and their allies) enter carrying corn sheaves and sickles. They take cover as two Roman horsemen spot them, who then ride off. The 7th Legion now enters, and take the corn. They mark out and begin to build a camp. Suddenly they are attacked by the Britons, and are nearly overwhelmed - until the 10th Legion with Caesar arrives and enables the 7th Legion to retreat. Both sides leave the field, the Britons shouting their war cry ‘Coel’, and the women kneeling over the dead chiefs.

Introduction (C). The Dedication of the Boy to the Service of his Race in Peace and War

This scene depicts the ceremony/ritual of a boy’s hair being cut – to symbolise his future as a priest. First, the hair is taken from the front part of his head, and offered to the Chief of his clan, as the boy recites his dedication to the clan (an Avoucher endorsing the claim). The Chief then takes the hair from around the forehead and ears, and gives the boy weapons and cattle, to symbolise his other future roles in the Clan. The boy is then given over to the Avenger of the clan to be trained in the use of his weapons.

Episode I. Arthur at the Battle of Badon, c. 520 (The Use of Moral Help in Battle)

The scene is a field at the foot of Mount Aconet (now Aconbury in Herefordshire), on the third day of the great battle of Mount Aconet. King Arthur stands as Gildas prays nearby. Merlin enters, and talks to Arthur about the progress of the battle. Arthur is confident, but Merlin less so. Christian Kings and Kings of the Scots and Saxons enter. Gildas rushes up to Arthur and relates a vision of Christ leading Arthur to victory. Arthur accepts a moral allegiance with Christ, which encourages the Kings to hail allegiance to Arthur. They all now rush to battle, before returning in a triumphant procession—Arthur carried by knights—followed by a train of captured Kings and Queens.

Episode II. Alfred at the Battle of Ashdown, 871 (the Use of Initiative in Varying a Settled Plan of Attack)

The scene is a Saxon hunt. Danes busy themselves fortifying two stockades, and bring in captured nuns, monks and cattle. War maidens dance around an emblem of Odin. A Saxon hunting party enters, pursued by some Danes, before taking cover with the Saxon army, who enter, headed by Alfred. Priests sing a litany and pray for deliverance from the Danes. A great battle takes place, with Alfred leading the charge against the Danes; they are eventually driven off, leaving their King and Princes dead on the field. The Angles return bearing Alfred on their shields; Alfred thanks God, and declares the importance of war readiness in arms, power, and training.

Episode III. Hastings, Saturday 14 October 1066 (The Use of the Ruse in Battle; Shot of Infantry and Shock of Horse against Infantry without Shot or Horse)

The scene depicts the English under Harold’s army preparing for battle, some more seriously than others. The Normans enter, many still in confession to priests or piously listening to mass. William of Normandy enters; but, before mounting his horse, he stumbles. His soldiers declare it ‘an ill omen’, but William stands up with two hands full of English earth and answers: ‘Not so.’ The Normans laugh, reassured. An intense battle takes place. At one point, William is rumoured dead; he takes off his helmet to show that he is not, and rallies the Normans. Eventually, Harold is shot in the eye by an arrow and falls. William kills Gurth single-handed, the Normans press through, and the battle is won, and the English flee. Edith of the Swan's Neck' finds Harold's body and offers its weight in gold to William. Mallet intercedes with William, who gallantly returns the gold to the stricken Saxons. William retires to his tent, while Edith bears off the body of the King, the monks and nuns chanting a requiem.

Episode IV. Dupplin Muir, 12 August 1332 (the Use of Shot against a Dismounted Enemy without Shot)

The scene is Dupplin Muir, by the side of the River Earn. Scottish spearmen enter, running away from Edward Baliol (the ‘disinherited’ leader) and his men. Baliol, with Angus, Atholl, and Gordon, rallies the men for battle, and form battalions of different types of soldier (lancers, archers, etc). The Scottish army, in three divisions, enters to pipe music, and charges straight at the ‘disinherited’ forces. A fierce battle takes place, but the disinherited forces are tactically superior, forcing the Scottish into a tight central point (trying to avoid the arrows) where they are then crushed to death or slain with swords. Unable to fight, the survivors flee – chased by Henry de Beaumont and some of the disinherited.

Episode V. Crecy, 26 August 1346 (the Use of Shot in Defence against the Shock of Horse)

The scene is a slope in front of Crecy. The English enter, Edward III and his staff at the back. The Black Prince’s division enters, with archers and spearmen. The French enter, Genoese cross-bowmen under the command of Antonio Doria and Carlo Grimaldi. An archery battle takes place, and then a mounted battle. The French begin to take the upper hand, but the Black Prince refuses to be beaten. The elderly and partially blind King of Bohemia asks to be taken into battle, and is quickly slain. The Black Prince is momentarily captured, but rescued by his Welsh standard bearer and the Black Archers of Llantrissant. A knight approaches Edward III and requests aid for the Black Prince, but Edward III sends him back—believing that the Black Prince will win his own victory. Gradually the Black Prince gains the upper hand and drives off the French. The helmet of the dead King of Bohemia is picked up and given to the Prince, who wears it in place of his own, amid shouts of triumph. The battle is over and the English rest in their battle array, on the field which they have won.

Episode VI. Battle of Mount Auray in Brittany, 1364 (the Value of Readiness of Resource in Battle)

The French enter, heavily armed with battleaxes and lances. The English enter, a line of archers in front, and one dismounted line of knights and men-at-arms behind. The archers open on the French, but the French armour is too strong. But the armour is also heavy, and its wearers struggle as they advance. With sudden inspiration, the archers drop their bows and rush at the French – taking their weapons and slaying them quickly. The English men-at-arms march up the line and complete the victory. The English drive the French off.

Episode VII. Battle of Agincourt, 25 October 1415 (Line against Column)

King Henry V leads in his army and prepares for battle, along with the Duke of York and Lord Camoys. David Gam enters with his son-in-law, Roger Vaughan; Henry and David jovially discuss the upcoming battle. Henry gives the famous St Crispin's Day speech from Shakespeare's play Henry V (Act IV Scene iii), emphasising his right to the French throne and recalling previous defeats the English have had over the French. Henry talks with Salisbury and York, before the French march in. Henry kneels and kisses the ground, rises, and rallies the troops: crying ‘God for Harry, England, and St George!’ An archery battle and then mounted battle take place. Henry is saved from French lances by the valour of five Welsh chiefs, led by Gam and his son-in-law. The French are eventually broken, and many flee; its leaders are either slain or taken. Henry returns to where he had been knocked down in the first press of the French, and knights the five who had saved him – two still standing (Gwilym of Raglan and Gruffydd Vaughan), and three dying (David Gam, Roger Vaughan, and Watkin ap Evan).

Episode VIII. The Field of Patay, 18 June 1429 (The Lesson of Defeat)

French scouts enter looking for the English army – who then enter. The English are unprepared, and Fastolf, Shrewsbury and Scales argue among themselves; they are easily beaten.

Episode IX. The Rescue of Flushing, 1572 (Showing the Change to Firearms and the Beginning of our Modern Army).

Scene I. The Great Review at Greenwich on May-Day

The scene opens with a maypole dance. London volunteers are reviewed by Queen Elizabeth, who is accompanied by her maids of honour, courtiers, councillors and train, all riding. The Lord Mayor then presents a petition asking the Queen to send the whole force to the help of the Dutch in their struggle for freedom against the Spaniards. The Lord Mayor and aldermen talk about sending the best men to fight for Holland, since every blow they strike would benefit England too. Captain John Morgan volunteers himself and other men join him, on the condition of payment.

Scene II. (Showing the Change to Firearms and the Beginning of our Modern Army

The field in front of the defences of Flushing. Enter the Spanish army, deploying to take position for the storm of the town. Before they can complete the deployment, out sally the three hundred arquebusiers, volunteers from London, under Thomas Morgan, backed by part of the garrison. Morgan's men halt line at short range and begin a steady fire by platoons.' The Spaniards, thrown into confusion, attempt to reply, but their fire is not strong enough. Their charges fail, and at last Morgan drives them away.

Episode X. Naseby, 14 June 1645 (The New Model Army)

The respective armies of the Roundheads (under Skippon) and the Cavaliers (under Astley, with Lisle and Sir Henry Bard) enter. Everyone forms for battle, and then engages. When the Cavaliers believe the Roundheads are retreating, they break out with a roar of ‘Queen Mary! Queen Mary!’ Astley lifts his helmet and prays: ‘Oh, God, Thou knowest how busy I must be this day. If I forget Thee, do not Thou forget me!’ He then cries ‘Forward’, and the Blue Regiment of pikes take up formation. The Cavaliers gradually gain the upper hand, until Cromwell leads in more Roundhead troops, and drives the Cavaliers off. Cromwell takes charge, and steadily takes the battle, leading with musketeers in rounds. Cromwell’s tactics work, and the Roundheads hurry off after the retreating Cavaliers, leaving the dead on the field.

Part II. Stories of the Regiments in Famous Fights

Malplaquet, 17 September 1709

The French infantry enter, followed by the French Irish Brigade, followed by their horses and guns. Lottum's blue-coated Prussians enter, followed by guns, and then Schulemberg's white-coated Austrians. An intense and tactical battle, back-and-forth, takes place. The Buffs then enter, followed by other British troops, leading a renewed assault on the French - with a battle also taking place ‘off-stage’ in a wood. An officer rushes out from the trees on the flank of the main line of entrenchments to Marshal Villars commanding the French. Villars detaches the Irish Brigade into the trees. Just after they disappear, two volleys are heard in their front. Officers go back to Villars, who detaches more troops into the trees to help fight there. He thus weakens his main line, allowing Marlborough to enter in the wake of Orrers's Division of British infantry, followed by other Allied cavalry. Marlborough deploys infantry to charge the main entrenchments, followed by Marlborough himself at the head of the Allied force’s horses. The French are swept off the field.

Dettingen, 27 June 1743

The French take up their position in front of a line of trees, alongside the French Household Cavalry, and the Black Musketeers. The British infantry enter, along with the British cavalry. King George II rides on the left of the British infantry. The French Household Cavalry do a few parade movements, causing a few of the British to fire at them. King George's horse bolts towards the enemy's lines, but the King brings him back, dismounts and resumes his advance on foot. An infantry and cavalry battle takes place, during which a Trooper (Brown) performs acts of bravery in the face of French power – eventually fighting his way back through the French to his own line, with seven wounds in his face and body, and three bullet holes through his hat. Finally, the 4th Dragoons and the Scots Greys gallop in from left and right, the British forces gather, and the whole French line draws off through the trees. King George then halts the British line and leads them off.

Minden, 1 August 1759

The British 23rd, 37th and 12th Regiments enter and deploy across the field, while the French horse enter and do the same. Next enter the 25th, 51st and 20th Regiments. Prince Ferdinand and his staff also appear for the French. A comedy of errors ensues, with the troops misunderstanding Ferdinand’s orders, and advancing before they should. Meanwhile the French cavalry have been reinforced by guns and infantry. As the British infantry advance, part of the French horse charge at them. The infantry halt and wait till the French come within 10 yards and then with one volley drive them back again. The advance is then resumed. The French horse charge again, backed up by their infantry and guns. Ferdinand orders in Phillip's heavy guns and sends them up to the right of the British line. That line of infantry again send back the French cavalry and then do the same by the French infantry, while Phillip's guns deal with the French guns. A third time the French horse charge the infantry. They break through that first line, but are promptly blown out by the second line. The whole then advance and push the French off the field with musketry.

Retreat to and Battle of Coruna, 16 January 1809

Scene I. The Combat of Sahagun

A regiment of French Dragoons enter and deploy across the field, their left resting on the village. British cavalry enter, led by Lord Paget. He gives the word instantly to form front, and then, as the French get into motion, he gives the commands, ‘Trot!’ ‘Gallop!’ ‘Charge!’ The charge sweeps the French away, leaving a number of dead and prisoners. The British infantry enter led by Sir John Moore, with more guns and more infantry; then transports of mule and bullock carts, together with wives and children of soldiers, and camp followers. The whole column passes on past Sahagun and off the field.

Scene II. The Crucial Despatch

The scene is the end of the village of Valdestillo, oposite the village of Sahagun. Village peasants enter and begin dancing in front of the post-house; the posting-master comes out and joins in, choosing the prettiest girl as a partner. A French officer rides in with despatches from Napoleon, and demands horses. The posting-master says he must wait till he has finished the dance. The officer dismounts and tries to force the master, who struggles, until the girl snatches the officer's grip loose and faces him. The officer abuses her; she stamps her foot in defiance. The officer then seizes her and kisses her – so the girl whips out her knife from her garter and stabs him, to wild applause from peasants. The posting-master loots the body, and finds the despatches. Captain Waters, one of Moore's intelligence officers, enters He rides to the village. Seeing the despatches he bids for them, getting them at last for a certain sum. The peasants cheer him and escort him in triumph in wake of Moore's army.

Scene III. The Retreat

Moore's army enters in retreat – waggons, carts, oxen, mules, guns, infantry, women and children, and peasants – before Robert Crawford's light infantry and two guns, and lastly the loth Hussars under Lord Paget. The French cavalry enter and attack, but the loth drive them off. Moore orders a camp to be built; the loth Hussars remain on the ground they have won; and an officer posts two men, Privates John Walton and Richard Jackson of the 43rd, as a post to watch the bridge of Castro Gonzalo. A party of French horse attack the post. Jackson fires and runs to carry the message back to camp, but the French overtake him and hack at him - but he still staggers on to meet the supports, who dash up and drive the French off. All this time Walton resists the French, despite their force. His clothing and weapons are greatly damaged, but he is without a wound. French guns are heard, and Moore orders the retreat to be resumed. A Scottish officer gallantly saves the child of a dying woman. The treasure cart gets stuck, as its oxen are utterly exhausted, so Moore orders it to be dragged by hand. He then orders his men to overturn the cart, to fill it with weapons instead – though he stations protection for the treasure. Crawford's infantry halts, Paget's cavalry retires, before the pursuing French cavalry enter. Paget leads his cavalry off, seeming to abandon the field, while the French deploy into line for a charge which shall sweep the field. But Paget re-enters with men, and they sweep the French off – also capturing the general Lefebvre Desnouettes. Crawford's infantry resume their retreat. French cavalry re-enter yet again, but Sergeant Newman leads the British to victory. The loth Hussars then retire in good order (having killed, wounded or taken over 200 of the enemy). The stragglers then come out of the trees and begin to follow.

Scene IV. The Victory and Death of Moore

Enter the piquets of the 50th British infantry and occupy Elvina. Enter the French great guns and take position all along the ridge. They open fire. Enter the French infantry in a cloud of skirmishers who attack Elvina, followed by three columns of infantry. Enter the 50th and the Black Watch, deploying as they come. They charge the French in their front and drive them back. In the village the fight is very stubborn, the 50th eventually pushing the French quite through and beyond it. The enemy are reinforced and renew the fight, pressing the 50th back into Elvina, while a mistaken order causes the Black Watch to retire. Moore rides on with his staff to stop the retreat. Cheering the Black Watch, he orders them to the support of the 50th in Elvina again. They cheer and charge in again. At the same time Moore sends a galloper to order in the reserve. The reserve marches in, the 23rd conspicuous in it. It strikes in on the flank of the French and begins to push them up the field with a steady advance. Just then Moore is struck off his horse by a cannon shot, which inflicts a dreadful wound. He, however, sits up again on the ground, still watching the battle. At last, as he sees the reserve clear the rear of Elvina, he falls back. He is then placed in a blanket and carried near the front. There he makes his bearers halt and lay him down to look once more at the field. The French are seen retiring from the field, and, as the last of them clears off, Moore drops back dead. As his body is carried off the British troops follow with arms reversed, in slow time, the bands playing the ‘Dead March.’ The guns fire a funeral salute. Then the three volleys are heard and the bugles sing clear in ‘The Last Post.’

Barrosa, 5 March 1811

The British force, under General Graham, enter and deploy along the ridge of Barrosa. Colonel Brown's force stands fast, with the rest of the force moving off for the ridge of Bermcja. Brown, on the ridge, takes ground to the right, occupying the ground vacated by the others. French guns are heard in Brown's right rear, and then the crackle of skirmishers coming from the same quarter. Ruffin's division of the French pushes Brown’s men off the ridge, but Brown receives word from Graham to fight – and so rallies. Laval's division of the French enter, as do three British brigades. Brown moves against the ridge, but is held at the foot of it, half his men down under a terrific volley of ammunition from above. Barnard enters and deploys his riflemen against Laval; Dilkes, in a mass of companies, moves against Ruffin; and Wheateley's force enters. Barnard's skirmishers are held. Laval breaks into the advance. Duncan's guns, galloping in from the left, open fire, and then the 87th, deployed on a front as wide as Laval's, meet him with a counter advance. Sergeant Patrick Masterton captures the eagle, and Laval and his troops are forced back through the trees, Ruffin retreating, too. The other British troops move off the field after the French, and the 87th re-form. With their own colours flying, their music ringing, and Sergeant Masterton out ahead of all with the captured eagle, the regiment advances in line.

Badajos, 6 April 1812

The infantry of the Third Division enter, Picton leading with Kempt at his side. Lieut. McCarthy of the 50th Regiment, Acting Engineer, also guides his division parallel, where he meets Major Burgoyne, the Engineer. The division forms up for attack. A French sentry fires needlessly, and the advance party, thinking they are discovered, begin firing also. Lighted carcases are thrown from the castle walls, illuminating the division below, Picton, being discovered, orders his forces forward. A great gun and grenade battle takes place. Kempt is wounded and is borne back to the rear. Picton and Macarthy rush up, and make a gap in the castle through which Picton rushes followed by the men, while others complete the destruction of most part of the palisades. Ladders are pushed up— and pushed off by the defenders. Men fall in heaps, Picton calmly urges them on. Eventually they begin to get over the castle walls, and Lieut. Macpherson of the 45th eventually rushes up the tower stairs to the flag on top. Hauling down the flag he hoists his own red jacket for the British colours as a signal that the castle is won. Meanwhile, Wellington arrives and celebrates the victory.

Grand Finale. ‘Service is Power’

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Caesar [Gaius Julius Caesar] (100–44 BC) politician, author, and military commander
  • Cassivellaunus (fl. 54 BC) king in Britain
  • Arthur (supp. fl. in or before 6th cent.) legendary warrior and supposed king of Britain
  • Merlin [Myrddin] (supp. fl. 6th cent.) poet and seer
  • Gildas [St Gildas] (fl. 5th–6th cent.) writer
  • Alfred [Ælfred] (848/9–899) king of the West Saxons and of the Anglo-Saxons
  • Æthelred II [Ethelred; known as Ethelred the Unready] (c.966x8–1016) king of England
  • Æthelnoth (d. 1038) archbishop of Canterbury
  • William I [known as William the Conqueror] (1027/8–1087) king of England and duke of Normandy
  • Montgomery, Roger de, first earl of Shrewsbury (d. 1094) soldier and magnate,
  • Odo, earl of Kent (d. 1097) bishop of Bayeux and magnate
  • Harold II [Harold Godwineson] (1022/3?–1066) king of England
  • Robert, count of Mortain (d. 1095) magnate
  • Leofwine, earl (d. 1066) magnate
  • Ælfwig (d. 1066) abbot of New Minster, Winchester
  • Ealdgyth [Aldgyth] (fl. c.1057–1066) queen of England, consort of Harold II
  • Balliol, Edward (b. in or after 1281, d. 1364) claimant to the Scottish throne
  • Strathbogie, David, styled eleventh earl of Atholl (1309–1335)
  • Umfraville, Gilbert, ninth earl of Angus (1309/10–1381)
  • Murray [Moray], Sir Andrew, of Bothwell (1298–1338) soldier and administrator
  • Stafford, Ralph, first earl of Stafford (1301–1372) soldier and magnate
  • Wake, Thomas, second Lord Wake (1298–1349) nobleman
  • Beaumont, Sir Henry de (c.1280–1340) baron
  • Donald, eighth earl of Mar (1293–1332) magnate
  • Stewart, Murdoch [Murdac], second duke of Albany (c.1362–1425) magnate
  • Dunbar, Thomas, second earl of Moray (d. in or before 1422)
  • Edward III (1312–1377) king of England and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine
  • Edward [Edward of Woodstock; known as the Black Prince], prince of Wales and of Aquitaine (1330–1376) heir to the English throne and military commander
  • Bohun, William de, first earl of Northampton (c.1312–1360) magnate
  • Fitzalan, Richard (II), third earl of Arundel and eighth earl of Surrey (c.1313–1376) soldier, diplomat, and royal councillor
  • Beauchamp, Thomas, eleventh earl of Warwick (1313/14–1369) soldier and magnate
  • Chandos, Sir John (d. 1370) soldier and administrator
  • Calveley, Sir Hugh (d. 1394) military commander
  • Humphrey [Humfrey or Humphrey of Lancaster], duke of Gloucester [called Good Duke Humphrey] (1390–1447) prince, soldier, and literary patron [count of Flanders]
  • Charles [Charles d' Orléans], duke of Orléans (1394–1465) prince and poet
  • Henry V (1386–1422) king of England and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine
  • Edward [Edward of Langley, Edward of York], second duke of York (c.1373–1415) magnate
  • Montagu, Thomas [Thomas de Montacute], fourth earl of Salisbury (1388–1428) soldier,
  • Neville, Ralph, first earl of Westmorland (c.1364–1425) magnate
  • Camoys, Thomas, Baron Camoys (c.1350–1420/21) administrator and soldier
  • Erpingham, Sir Thomas (c.1355–1428) soldier
  • Dafydd [David] Gam (d. 1415) warrior
  • Fychan, [Vaughan] Roger (d. 1415)
  • Vaughan, Sir Gruffudd, fychan (d. 1447) soldier
  • Joan of Arc (1412–1431) warrior and saint
  • John [John of Lancaster], duke of Bedford (1389–1435) regent of France and prince
  • Fastolf, Sir John (1380–1459) soldier and landowner
  • Talbot, John, first earl of Shrewsbury and first earl of Waterford (c.1387–1453) soldier
  • Scales, Thomas, seventh Baron Scales (1399?–1460) soldier and administrator
  • Elizabeth I (1533–1603) queen of England and Ireland
  • Duckett, Sir Lionel (d. 1587) merchant and local politician
  • Morgan, Sir Thomas (d. 1595) soldier
  • Williams, Sir Roger (1539/40–1595) soldier and author
  • Cromwell, Oliver (1599–1658) lord protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland
  • Fairfax, Thomas, third Lord Fairfax of Cameron (1612–1671) parliamentarian army officer
  • Fiennes, John, appointed Lord Fiennes under the protectorate (d. in or before 1710) parliamentarian army officer and politician
  • Skippon, Philip, appointed Lord Skippon under the protectorate (d. 1660) parliamentarian army officer and politician
  • Astley, Jacob, first Baron Astley of Reading (1579–1652) royalist army officer
  • Lisle, Sir George (d. 1648) royalist army officer
  • Bard, Henry, first Viscount Bellomont [Bellamont] (1615/16–1656) royalist army officer and diplomat
  • Churchill, John, first duke of Marlborough (1650–1722) army officer and politician
  • George II (1683–1760) king of Great Britain and Ireland, and elector of Hanover
  • William Augustus, Prince, duke of Cumberland (1721–1765) army officer
  • Dalrymple, John, second earl of Stair (1673–1747) diplomat and army officer
  • Moore, Sir John (1761–1809) army officer
  • Paget [formerly Bayly], Henry William, first marquess of Anglesey (1768–1854) army officer and politician
  • Graham, Thomas, Baron Lynedoch (1748–1843) army officer
  • Wellesley [formerly Wesley], Arthur, first duke of Wellington (1769–1852) army officer and prime minister
  • Picton, Sir Thomas (1758–1815) army officer and colonial governor
  • Kempt, Sir James (1763/4–1854) army officer and governor-in-chief of British North America
  • Pakenham, Sir Edward Michael (1778–1815) army officer
  • Burgoyne, Sir John Fox, baronet (1782–1871) army officer

Musical production

Band of 300 musicians picked from the leading Army bands in the country performed the following:

  • Song/poem by George Mackay (Introduction A).
  • Song by Peacock (Introduction A).
  • Song by Macaulay (Introduction B).
  • ‘The Song of the Danes’, C. Kingsley (Episode II).
  • ‘The Reply of King Alfred’, Rudyard Kipling (Episode II).
  • ‘The Death Song of Ragnar Lodbrok’ (Episode II).
  • ‘Athelstan’s Triumph’, Tennyson (Episode II). 
  • ‘A Song of the English’, Rudyard Kipling (Episode III).
  • Song by Conan Doyle (Episode V).
  • A Song prepared in honour of Henry’s return to London, November 1415 [from the Percy reliques] (Episode VII).

Newspaper coverage of pageant

The Times of India
New York Times
The Times
The Observer
The Manchester Guardian
Aberdeen Evening Express
Aberdeen Journal
Arbroath Herald and Advertiser for the Montrose Burghs
Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette
Berwickshire News and General Advertiser
Bucks Herald
Burnley Express
Burnley Gazette
Cambridge Independent Press
Chelmsford Chronicle
Cheltenham Chronicle
Cheltenham Looker-On
Coventry Herald
Derby Daily Telegraph
Derbyshire Courier
Dover Express
Driffield Times
Dundee Courier
Dundee Evening Telegraph
Essex Newsman
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette
Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian
Gloucester Citizen
Gloucester Journal
Gloucestershire Chronicle
Gloucestershire Echo
Grantham Journal
Hartlepool Mail
Hastings and St Leonards Observer
Hawick News and Border Chronicle
Hull Daily Mail
Kent & Sussex Courier
Leamington Spa Courier
Leicester Chronicle
Lichfield Mercury
Lincolnshire Chronicle
Lincolnshire Echo
Luton Times and Advertiser
North Devon Journal
Northampton Mercury
Nottingham Evening Post
Portsmouth Evening News
Sheffield Daily Telegraph
Sheffield Evening Telegraph
Shields Daily Gazette
Southern Reporter
Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette
Sussex Agricultural Express
Tamworth Herald
Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser
Walsall Advertiser
Wells Journal
Western Daily Press
Western Gazette
Western Times
Whitby Gazette
Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald
Yorkshire Evening Post

Book of words

The Book of the Army Pageant. London, 1910.

Price: 2s. 6d.

Other primary published materials


References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant


Sources used in preparation of pageant

  • Froissart, Jean. Chronicles 1338–1410. Edited by T. Johnes. London. 1803.
  • Gibbon, Edward. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. [Unclear which edition]
  • Green, John Richard. Making of England. London, various editions.
  • ___. Short History of the English People. London, various editions.
  • ___. The Conquest of England. London, various editions.
  • Sergeaunt. Weapons, 1908.
  • Sollen, The Trajan Column. [publication details unknown]
  • The Conquest of England: From Wace's Poem of the Roman de Rou. 1100. Translated by Sir Alexander Malet. London, 1860.
  • Unwin, Fisher. Stories of the Nations. London, 1885.
  • Valentine, Laura. Sea Fights and Land Battles. London. 1869.
  • de Geyn, Jakob. Maniement d'Armes. Amsterdamn. 1608.
  • Fairholt, F.W. Costume in England: A History of Dress from the Earliest Period till the Close of the Eighteenth Century. London, 1846.
  • Groat, A.G. Thoughts on Orkney and Zetland, their Antiquities and Capabilities of Improvement etc. Edinburgh. 1831.
  • Hottenroth, Friedrich. History of Costume [Le Costume, les Armes, Utensiles, Outils des Peuples Anciens et Modernes ?]. [Unclear what edition]
  • La Croix… Vie Militaire du Moyen Age, etc., 1873?
  • Planche, JR. Encyclopedia of Costume. London. 1876–79.
  • Racinet, Auguste. Le Costume Historique. Paris. 1888.
  • Gwynne, John. Military Memoirs of the Great Civil War. Edinburgh, 1822.
  • Harris, Sir Nicolas. The History of the Battle of Agincourt. London, 1827.
  • Hewitt, John. Ancient Armour and Weapons in Europe. Oxford, 1855.
  • Holmes, Thomas Rice Edward. Ancient Britain and the Invasions of Julius Caesar. Oxford, 1907.
  • Judson, Harry Pratt. Caesar’s Army. Boston, Mass, 1888.
  • Laking, Guy Francis. Catalogues of Windsor Castle and Wallace Collections. [edition unknown]
  • le Fevre, Jean, Seigneur of St Remy. History of Charles VI. [publication details unknown]
  • Meyrick, Sir S. A Critical Enquiry into Ancient Armour, as it Existed in Europe, but Particularly in England. [place of publication unknown]. 1842.
  • Müller, Johannes von. History of the Swiss. [publication details unknown]
  • Napier, William Francis Patrick. Peninsular War. London. 1828.
  • Oman, Charles. History of the Art of War. London, 1898.
  • Paris, Matthew. Chronicles (1200–1259). [edition unknown]
  • Payne-Gallwey, Sir R. The Crossbow. Projectile-Throwing Engines of the Ancients. London. 1907.
  • Percy, Thomas. Reliques. [edition unknown]
  • Rathbone Low, Charles. The Great Battles of the British Army. London, 1885.
  • Scott, Sir S. The British Army. London. 1867.
  • Wood, Evelyn. Achievements of Cavalry. London, 1897.
  • Yonge. Cameos of English History. London. 1867.
  • Bellay, D.E. Instructions for the Wars. London. 1587.
  • Markham, Gervase. The Souldiers Accidence. London. 1635.
  • Smythe, Sir J. Instructions, Observations, and Orders Mylitarie. London. 1590.
  • Turner, Sir James. Pallas Armata. London. 1683.
  • Ward, Bernard Rowland. The School of Military Engineering, 1812–1909. Chatham. 1909.
  • Wood, Evelyn. Achievements of Cavalry. London. 1897.
  • Boutell, Charles. A Manual of Heraldry Historical and Popular. London. 1863.
  • Collins, Arthur. Peerage. London. 1812.
  • Foster, Joseph. Some Feudal Coats of Arms from Heraldic Rolls, 1298–1418. London. 1902.
  • Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles. Complete Guide to Heraldry. London. 1909.
  • GEC, Complete Peerage, 1894
  • Harleian Society Publications
  • Pallisser, Mrs Bury. Historic Devices, Badges and War Cries. London. 1870.
  • Paul, James Balfour. The Scots Peerage. Edinburgh. 1904.
  • The Ancestor. 1902–5.
  • Walden, H. De. Banners Standards and Badges from a Tudor Manuscript in the College of Arms. London. 1904.
  • Ashdown, Charles Henry. British and Foreign Arms and Armour. London, 1909.
  • Boeheim, Wendelin. Handbuch der Waffenkunde. Leipzig. 1890.
  • Boutell, Charles. Arms and Armour. London,1907.
  • Bowker, Alfred. Alfred the Great. London, 1899
  • Buttin, Charles. Notes sur les Armes a l’Epreuve. 1901.
  • Castle, Egerton. Schools and Masters of Fence. London. 1885.
  • Coffey, George. Guide to the Irish Museum.
  • Creasy, Edward Shepherd. The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World. London, 1852.
  • da Vinci, Leonard. Il Codice Atlantico. [unclear what edition]
  • de Cosson, Baron. ‘Catalogue of Helmets and Mail’. Arch Journal xxxvii, 1880 [page number unknown]
  • de la Marche, Olivier. Memoirs. 1884. [place of publication/edition unknown]
  • Demmin, Auguste. An Illustrated History of Arms and Armour from the Earliest Period to the Present Time. London. 1901.
  • Elliott, G.F. Scott. Romance of Early British Life. London. 1909.
  • Ellis, Alfred the Great
  • Evans, David. The Ancient Bards of Britain. London, 1906.
  • Ffoulkes, Charles. Armour and Weapons. Oxford, 1909.
  • Forbes, Archibald and Griffiths, Arthur. Battles of the Nineteenth Century. London, 1896.
  • Fortescue, J.W. History of the British Army. London, 1912.
  • Freeman, Edward Augustus. The History of the Norman Conquest of England. Oxford, 1877.


The Army Pageant, London, was a major and ambitious spectacle, performed 21 times in the summer of 1910. It was a leviathan effort in all respects, but did not seem to make a profit—and was, as such, the second major pageant to lose money at Fulham Palace, following the English Church Pageant the previous year. The total number of performers was around 5000, made up of 2000 officers and men from various Army depots; 1500–2000 civilian performers; and 1200 soldiers from other parts of the UK.4 A covered grandstand for 7000—previously used for the Church Pageant—was re-erected, as well as a bandstand for the 300 musicians from leading Army bands in the country.5 The pageant was produced by F.R. Benson, a famous Shakespearian actor and producer who had moved into historical pageantry, after starting with the much smaller Romsey pageant in 1907. It was arguably the first pageant to diverge from one of Louis Napoleon Parker’s most important original tenets: that the episodes of a pageant should be focused on the history of a specific place. Instead, the Army Pageant featured a disparate selection of episodes that illustrated the development of military conflict and the British armed forces, all the way from Dolmen Builders in about 1700 BC to the Napoleonic Wars of the early nineteenth century. However, in other respects, the pageant aligned with many of Parker’s original aims. The bulk of the properties were made voluntarily by disabled soldiers and sailors, employed by the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Help Society; where possible, the descendants of notable characters impersonated their ancestors; and all the performers were unpaid.6 Reflecting the focus of the pageant, it was, naturally, organised predominately by figures associated with the contemporary armed forces, and strongly imbued with a sense of duty and patriotism at a time of growing instability and international tensions.

A particularly interesting figure in the pageant’s organisation, though not one who received much attention, either in the press or in the pageant’s official publicity, was Captain Arthur Owen Vaughan, author of the National Pageant of Wales in Cardiff the previous year. Vaughan, who often went by his self-given bardic name of Owen Rhoscomyl, was a renowned Welsh adventurer, soldier, and historian—aggressive and decisive, and fiercely imperialist.7 For Vaughan, the National Pageant of Wales had been an opportunity to give the Welsh their place in the national and imperial story of Britain, and he carried over this ethos to the Army Pageant.8 Benson noted in his foreword that he had been ‘greatly helped’ by Vaughan, who was ‘responsible for much of the written episodes, especially the latter ones.’9 But Vaughan’s hand was also evident throughout the pageant, particularly in the earlier scenes about the ancient inheritance contemporary Britons had received from the Celtic races of Scotland and Wales. In the souvenir Book of Words, the author (presumably Vaughan), said that ‘Roman tactics, which influenced but slightly the Saxons, remained a fighting tradition among the Scots and Welsh, and were a force in shaping the developments introduced by Edward I and Henry V., who learnt their lessons in the lands that had produced Wallace and Bruce, Llewellyn and Owen Glendower.’ This was a bold claim, and one that was challenged with an addendum in the text: ‘[Note—Professor Oman and other authorities dispute this statement—Ed].10

Despite this disagreement on detail, Benson’s overall story was fairly simple. In a section of the souvenir entitled ‘Some remarks on the pageant’, he explained that the narrative would suggest the ‘splendour and sweep of Britain’s wars’ and, ‘in spite of the attendant horror and cruelty, something of its chivalry and kindliness’. Here, it seems he particularly had in mind ‘the friendliness that characterised the relations of the French and English’ and even with the Germans as well.11 In the context of the recent Entente with France (1904), but rising tensions with Germany, Benson’s statement seems both relevant yet perhaps also naïve. In any case, the scenes were intended to show, as Benson put it, ‘the hardiness and readiness to serve of every man, woman and child throughout the land.’12 This was achieved through historical comparisons. Thus, the Roman episode, according to Benson, showed ‘a parallel case to our own, the Empire embracing subjects in every stage of civilisation and of every race’.13 But although the pageant was a clear exercise in jingoism and patriotism, it did not shy away from showing moments of defeat—after all, as Benson put it, ‘In failure, we have often learned truths that we have lost sight of in success.’14 Most of the episodes in the first half of the pageant had an object lesson—some moral and some military. ‘Introduction B’, the Romans, showed ‘the Coming of the Disciplined Man’; ‘Introduction C’ the ‘Dedication of the Boy to the Service of his Race in Peace and War’; Episode I, ‘Arthur at the Battle of Badon’ in 520 AD, showed ‘the Use of Moral Help in Battle’; Episode II, ‘Alfred at the Battle of Ashdown’ in 871AD, showed ‘the use of initiative in varying a settled plan of attack’; Episode III, ‘Hastings’, 1066AD, showed ‘the use of the ruse in battle’ (Episodes IV, V, VI and VII also showed military tactics); Episode VIII, ‘The Field of Patay’ in 1429 taught ‘the lesson of defeat’, and so on. The second part of the pageant focused on ‘Stories of the Regiments in Famous Fights’. These stories were less about object lessons and more about celebrating the victories and bravery of the more ‘modern’ army, beginning with Malplaquet in 1709, as well as commemorating moments of gallant defeat. The pageant ended with a Grand Finale, entitled ‘Service is Power,’ in which Britannia and the component parts of the Empire were represented—a sight that became increasingly familiar in Empire pageants in the Edwardian and inter-war years.15

At one level, the importance of the pageant was predicated on its size and spectacle. But, of course, there were many other reasons to stage such an event. Lord Cheylesmore, a British Army officer, peer, Chairman of London County Council, chairman of the National Rifle Association, and Chairman of the pageant, hoped that it would provide an ‘object lesson’ in the work of the armed forces, and thus ‘promote recruiting for the Army’. The Times reported that, well before the pageant opened, nearly all of the cheap seats had been sold—a sign, the reporter thought, that the pageant had captured ‘the popular mind’.16 At the same time, the pageant was a money-raising exercise for the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Help Society—which had been founded in 1899 during the Boer War to help both soldiers and veterans with employment, help, accommodation, convalescence, and training. When opening the pageant, Lord Roberts, renowned as one of the most successful British Army commanders, talked about the importance of charity and implored the audience to support the injured and incapacitated ‘men who have been ready to go anywhere and to undergo any amount of hardships for their Sovereign and their country’.17

Roberts also provided the foreword for the souvenir programme. In it, he explained that the pageant was more than just a ‘popular show’. It was aiming for a ‘high ideal’: to instil ‘a sense of patriotism’ and to encourage the idea ‘that it is the duty of every member of our great Empire to endeavour to do something, however small, for the good of their country: that everyone has a definite place in the general scheme which they can suitably fill: and that the country’s interest should come before everything else.’18 Yet, within this display of military might and duty there was a subtle point: to show, as the Times put it, the Army’s ‘gradual evolution from the individual whose hand is against every man to the disciplined and well-organized body of men fighting for a principle.’19 In this sense the ethos of the Army Pageant reflected more general movements in the social and political understanding of society—namely, the growth in enthusiasm for communitarian ideals of citizenship and patriotism rather than liberal notions of individualism.20

In the course of a pageant committee meeting at Westminster in April, Lord Roberts had expressed the problem of recruitment in more depth. During wartime, he argued, society was happy to support soldiers, but with the coming of peace they ‘looked upon him [the soldier] as some strange sort of creature’—not knowing what his purpose was. However, Roberts went on, they needed ‘an Army of the people’, one that the British people understood, at all times, to be ‘part and parcel of themselves’.21 In a context where other armies, which ‘we might have to meet’, became ‘highly-trained or perfectly readr’, the British people needed to be ready and prepared for conflict. The pageant, therefore, would show ‘what our soldiers had had to do in the past’ and would encourage ‘an Army sufficient in numbers, efficient in quality, and ready at a moment’s notice to defend the country.’22 Underlying this rhetoric was a sense of imperial anxiety, which had developed in the ‘national efficiency’ debates of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and reached its apotheosis during the Boer War.23 A military correspondent for the Times expressed this still-persisting anxiety when he reported on the pageant. Hoping that it would inspire actual patriotism in action, he went on to elaborate how

The military defense [sic] of the greatest Empire that has existed within the memory of man demands from the race that controls and dominates it every effort of which it is capable. Let no one think who visits the Army Pageant that the day of stricken fields is past. Empires comparatively as puissant as ours have been swept away when the art of government has been forgotten by their citizens. Civilizations brighter and happier than ours have become submerged by overflowing tides of barbarism when idealists, dreamers and talkers have preferred rhetoric to reason, and pageant to preparation… There are, and there always will be, hard nations, aspiring rulers, ambitious people, who seize the first favourable occasion to snatch from tired or unready rivals their champion belt.24

But, at the same time, the Times correspondent wondered whether it was the best use of soldiers at a busy time in the training season, though he did report that there was ‘hearty applause’ from the ‘fascinated and appreciative audience’—despite the many empty seats in the grandstand.25

A lot of work went into the production of the pageant in order to make sure the battle scenes and manoeuvres were ‘realistic’, concentrating more on movement, crowds and excitement than dialogue, of which there was very little. The Book of Words itself, not cheap at 2s. 6d., was a serious work of military history, providing a guide to the evolution of arms, armour, tactics, and battles, and written by a series of experts.26 But the publication did not, seemingly, sell so well, this being put down to the death of King Edward VII a few months prior to the pageant, an event which caused uncertainty as to whether or not the pageant would go ahead (though the high price of tickets may also have contributed).27 Clearly this was a pressing concern for the organisers; in the Book of Words there was a note, added after publication, saying ‘His Majesty King George V has expressed a wish that the Army Pageant should be in no way postponed owing to the recent National calamity.’28 Despite this setback, however, the pageant was reported both across the UK and further afield, with pieces even in the New York Times and the Times of India. Certainly it was well supported by the upper echelons of British society; the patron list of the pageant was headed by HM Queen Alexandra, HRH The Princess Royal and Duke of Fife, TRH The Duke and Duchess of Connaught, TRH Prince and Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, HRH Princess Henry of Battenberg, the Secretary of State for War, and the Army Council—not to mention over 300 members of the nobility, and a slew of high-ranking army officers.

But despite this monumental effort and elite support, not all observers were thrilled. The Manchester Guardian was, overall, not very impressed at all. The correspondent, perhaps not a fan of pageantry in general, noted that ‘hardly once in the pageant does one get any sense of this kind of purpose [unity and coherence] in the scenes’. It seemed, they argued, that too much had been ‘ruthlessly compressed’ into the too many episodes. For the chop, the newspaper suggested, should be the Ancient Briton and Saxon scenes—‘always rather tedious with their shaggy wigs and Liberty-coloured serges, and they seldom have any very definite fact to portray.’ In some ‘minor details’, it went on, the pageant was ‘astonishingly badly drilled’; ‘Sceneshifters in aprons were painfully visible on the edges of the ground, and there was a lot of tedious dragging to and fro of canvas screens.’ The correspondent complimented some of the scenes and the costumes, but, overall, the Guardian thought the pageant had widely missed the mark.29 Other local newspapers—such as the Nottingham Evening Post, the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, and the Wells Journal—were more positive in their coverage.30 But in terms of press reaction it was, in comparison to the usual plaudits given to pageants in the Edwardian period, a bit of a mixed bag.

It was estimated by the Times that over 100000 people saw the pageant.31 This worked out at about 5000 per performance, which would have meant the grandstand was around two thirds full. At the close of the final performance, Lord Cheylesmore called for cheers for Benson, and was given a ‘hearty response’. Benson was then carried by several soldiers to the front of the arena, where he thanked the performers and hoped that the pageant had ‘put before the public something of the idea, now in the air, of the nobility of national service.’ More cheers followed, and then ‘Auld Land Syne’ and the National Anthem.32 Details on the financial result of the pageant do not seem to have been reported; since the pageant was organised for charity, it seems likely that any profit would have been greatly publicised. Benson carried on pageant-making and was a big promoter of pageants as a form of national healing for Britain in the 1920s.33 In any event, nothing on the size and scale of the Army Pageant was staged again. Following the First World War, however, soldiers again took to the pageant field to perform acts of courage and valour—but, this time, from the much more recent past and the horror of the latest conflict.34


  1. ^ ‘The Army Pageant’, The Times, 13 June 1910, 9.
  2. ^ ‘The Army Pageant’, The Times, 4 July 1910, 8.
  3. ^ Where available, bibliographic details have been taken from the British Library catalogue.
  4. ^ ‘Soldiers at the Army Pageant’, The Times, 8 April 1910, 9; ‘The Army Pageant’, The Times, 13 June 1910, 9.
  5. ^ ‘The Army Pageant’, The Times, 13 June 1910, 9.
  6. ^ ‘The Army Pageant’, The Times, 14 February 1910, 7.
  7. ^ Hywel Teifi Edwards, The National Pageant of Wales (Llandysul, 2009), 37–42.
  8. ^ See entry for National Pageant of Wales.
  9. ^ F.R. Benson, ‘Some Remarks on the Pageant’, in The Book of the Army Pageant (London, 1910), 15.
  10. ^ The Book of the Army Pageant (London, 1910), 38.
  11. ^ Benson, ‘Some Remarks on the Pageant’, 15.
  12. ^ Ibid., 16.
  13. ^ Ibid., 15.
  14. ^ Ibid., 16.
  15. ^ See the later pageants of Arthur Bryant, for example, as well as the peace pageants that followed the end of the First World War.
  16. ^ ‘The Army Pageant’, The Times, 28 March 1910, 5.
  17. ^ ‘The Army Pageant’, The Times, 21 June 1910, 10.
  18. ^ Field-Marshal Earl Roberts, VC, KG, ‘Foreword’, in The Book of the Army Pageant, 13.
  19. ^ ‘The Army Pageant’, The Times, 14 February 1910, 7.
  20. ^ Eugenio F. Biagini, ed., Citizenship and Community: Liberals, Radicals and Collective Identities in the British Isles 1865–1931 (Cambridge, 2002 [first published 1996]).
  21. ^ ‘Lord Roberts and the Army Pageant’, The Times, 28 April 1910, 10.
  22. ^ Ibid., 10.
  23. ^ Geoffrey Searle, The Quest for National Efficiency: A Study in British Politics and Political Thought, 1899–1914 (Oxford, 1971).
  24. ^ ‘The Army Pageant’, The Times, 21 June 1910, 10.
  25. ^ Ibid., 10.
  26. ^ ‘The Book of the Army Pageant’, The Times, 24 May 1910, 6.
  27. ^ ‘The Book of the Army Pageant’, The Times, 11 July 1910, 20.
  28. ^ The Book of the Army Pageant (London, 1910).
  29. ^ ‘The Army Pageant’, Manchester Guardian, 21 June 1910, 9.
  30. ^ Nottingham Evening Post, 21 June 1910, 4; Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 12 March 1910, 4; Wells Journal, 30 June 1910, 3-4.
  31. ^ ‘The Army Pageant’, The Times, 4 July 1910, 8.
  32. ^ Ibid., 8.
  33. ^ F. Benson and H. Wilson, ‘Pageantry’, in Rejoice Greatly: How to Organise Public Ceremonies, ed. T.L. Horabin (London, 1920), 27-29.
  34. ^ Official Souvenir of the Pageant of Peace (Nottingham, 1919).

How to cite this entry

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