Bath Historical Pageant

Pageant type

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Place: Victoria Park (Bath) (Bath, Somerset, England)

Year: 1909

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 6


19–24 July 1909, at 3pm

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Pageant Master: Lascelles, Frank
  • Director: E. Baring, Esq.
  • Assistant: Mr G.F. Salas
  • Secretary: Mr W. Jeffery, FSAA
  • Conductors: Mr A.E. New, MusBac.
  • Bandmaster: Mr W.F.C. Shottler
  • Master of Designs: Mr Nat Heard
  • Assistants: Mr Edwin Fagg and Mr John E. Barker
  • Master of the Horse: Capt. C.B. Prowse
  • Mistress of the Robes: Mrs Dominic Watson
  • Assistants: Mrs J.A. Hancox and Mrs Macintyre
  • Costumiere: Mrs F. Edwards
  • Milliner: Mrs Keeley
  • Perruquier: Mr W. Clarkson
  • Costumes for Masque and Finale: Miss Jeanie Moore
  • Assistant Stage Managers: Mr Arthur Goodsall; Mr Fothringham Lysons
  • Mistress of the Dances: Miss Rolfe
  • Marshal-in-Chief: Mr A. Bertram Fortt
  • Master of the Properties: Mr A.G. Franklin Spurr
  • Masters of the Grand Stand: Mr H.W. Matthews, MSA; Mr A. Taylor, MSA
  • Master of the Property-Men: Mr Long
  • Hon. Treasurer: Col. H.F. Clutterbuck, VD
  • Hon. Solicitor: Mr Austin M. King
  • Bankers: Union of London and Smiths Bank, Bath

Names of executive committee or equivalent


  • TRH The Duke of Connaught and The Duchess of Connaught
  • HRH The Prince Louise and His Grace the Duke of Argyll
  • TSH The Duke of Teck and The Duchess of Teck

Executive and Finance Committee:

  • President: The Most Honorable the Marquess of Bath, Lord Lieutenant of the County
  • Vice President: The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Bath, J.W. Knight, Esq., JP
  • Vice President: Major C.H. Simpson, JP
  • Chairman: Mr T. Sturge Cotterell, JP
  • Rev. Prebendary S.A. Boyd, MA
  • Rev. C.H. Hylton Stewart, MA
  • Col. H.F. Clutterbuck, VD
  • Capt. C.W. Daubeny
  • Mr W.F. Gould
  • Mr S. Sydenham
  • Mr W.S. Charles
  • Mrs A.G.D. Moger
  • Mr J.D. Allen
  • Mr D.A. Evans
  • Mr B.R.F. Pearson
  • Major E. Lewis
  • Capt. C.B. Prowse
  • Mr G.F. Powell
  • Mrs Cedric Chivers

Ladies’ Committee:

  • President: The Lady de Blaquiere
  • Vice-President: Mrs S.A. Boyd

Episodes Committee:

  • Chairman: Rev. Prebendary S.A. Boyd, MA


  • Chairman: Capt. C.B. Prowse


  • Chairman: Rev. C.E. Doudney


  • Mr George Northey, JP


  • Chairman: Rev. C.H. Hylton Stewart, MA


  • Chairman: Mr J.D. Allen

Colour and Design:

  • Chairman: Rev. Prebendary S.A. Boyd, MA

Evening Entertainments:

  • Chairman: Mr B.R.F. Pearson

Fancy Dress Ball:

  • Chairman: Major Simpson, JP


  • Chairman: The Mayor of Bath

Grand Stand:

  • Chairman: Mr W.E. Hatt


  • Chairman: J.W. Chadwick

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

  • Carr, Cecil T.
  • Tylee, Edward S.
  • Skrine, J.H.
  • Hanks, W.P.
  • Prowse, C.B.
  • Broadley, A.M.
  • Bowley, W.L.
  • Shakespeare, William


  • Cecil T. Carr (Episodes I and II).
  • Edward. S. Tylee, MA (Episode III).
  • Rev. J.H. Skrine, MA (Episode IV).
  • Rev. W.P. Hanks, MA, FRSL (Episode V).
  • Capt. C.B. Prowse (Episode VI).
  • A.M. Broadley (Episodes VII and VIII).
  • Rev. W.L. Bowley (precise contribution unclear)
  • William Shakespeare (Sonnets CLIII and CLIV).

Names of composers

  • Purcell, Henry
  • Head, H.T.
  • Stanford, Charles Villiers
  • Schottler, W.F.C.
  • Dwys, J.W.
  • Tapp, Frank
  • Gounod, Charles
  • David, H.J.
  • Stewart, C. Hylton
  • German, Edward
  • Harringdon, Dr
  • New, A.E.
  • Allen, H.P.
  • Heap, J.S.

Numbers of performers


Financial information


  • Sale of Seats: £8249. 5s. 7d.
  • Evening Entertainment: £1089. 14s. 4d.
  • Sale of Rights: £269. 2s. 6d.
  • Costumes and Properties: £678. 13s. 6d.
  • Book of Words: £405. 14s. 8d.
  • Advertisements: £130. 5s. 6d.
  • Sundries: £62. 19s. 0d.
  • Ball Receipts: £237. 8s. 0d.

Total Receipts: £11123. 13s. 2d.


  • Clerks and typists: £161. 16s. 3d.
  • Cutters, Dressmakers, etc.: £225. 10s. 1d.
  • Pageant House Expenses: £263. 0s. 3d.
  • Rent, Rates, etc.: £115. 9s. 8d.
  • Insurance: £138. 18s. 0d.
  • Petty Payments: £94. 0s. 11d.
  • Stamps and Postage: £248. 14s. 2d.
  • Printing and Stationery: £1108. 16s. 11½d.
  • Press and Advertising: £1086. 3s. 10d.
  • Properties, Materials, Scenery: £909. 13s. 0½d.
  • Costumes and Materials: £1163. 18s. 4d.
  • Manager, Master, Secretary: £1585. 2s. 0d.
  • Sundries: £198. 4s. 1d.
  • Grand Stand and Ground: £1691. 3s. 7½d.
  • Advance Agents: £66. 14s. 7d.
  • Music and Dancing: £330. 7s. 7d.
  • Scenic Artists: £50. 14s. 9d.
  • Horse Hire: £173. 17s. 11d.
  • Evening Fetes: £738. 18s. 7d.
  • Entertainment of Visitors: £145. 3s. 9d.
  • Ball: £161. 10s. 10d.
  • Carriage Hire, etc.: £190. 8s. 9d.

Total Expenditure: £10848. 8s. 10d.

Initial Profits: £275. 4s. 4d.

Plus subscriptions received: £699. 1s. 6d.

Total Balance: £974. 5s. 10d.1

Object of any funds raised

Local Charities

Linked occasion


Audience information

  • Grandstand: Yes
  • Grandstand capacity: 3500
  • Total audience: Approx. 14000


25000 attended the promenade concerts in the City Gardens.

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


  • 2s.
  • 3s. 6d.
  • 5s.
  • 7s. 6d.
  • 10s. 6d.
  • 21s.

Associated events

  • Monday: Illuminations—Display of Fireworks; Promenade Concert, held in Sydney Gardens at 8pm, admission 6d.
  • Tuesday: Besses o’ th’ Barn Band, at Sydney Gardens at 8pm, admission 6d.
  • Wednesday: Children’s Fairy Play, at Sydney Gardens at 8pm, admission 6d.
  • Thursday: Living Chess, Animated Pictures of the Pageant, Band, Promenade Concert, at Sydney Gardens at 8pm, admission 6d.
  • Friday: Fancy Dress Ball at the Assembly Rooms, Tickets (including supper, 10s. 6d.); Pierrots, at Sydney Gardens at 8pm, admission 6d.
  • Saturday: Battle of Flowers, Decorated Motor Cars and Vehicles (prizes for best decorated vehicle), Band, Promenade Concert, at Sydney Gardens at 8pm, admission 6d.

Pageant outline

Episode I. Dedication of Sul’s Temple, AD 160

The forum at Aquae Sulis, with façade of Roman Baths and Temple with an altar. A procession of priestesses with figures of the goddess enters the forum full of citizens, bath-goers, soldiers and peasants selling their wares, creating a tableau of everyday Roman life. Rusonia Avenna, a notorious invalid, leaves the bath and is approached by a beggar who tries to get money from her, comically escalating his claims of suffering each time. Saturnius, a centurion of the XIth legion, kicks away his crutches and sends him sprawling. He and a grumpy cavalryman, Vitellus, complain about the British climate and its lack of wine. A Greek charlatan tries to sell him some wares but is attacked by the crowd. A herald enters to announce the dedication of the temple, though the natives are not happy about this or the Roman custom of bathing. Romans discuss their various attitudes to different gods, and the healing powers of ‘Sul’ (who is taken for the goddess Minerva). Roman soldiers march in singing a song. The Greek turns out to have stolen Rusonia’s purse. The Magistrate gives thanks to Sul Minerva, and there is a procession and chant of priestesses.

Episode II. The Sack of Akeman After Dyrham Fight, AD 577

There is no one left in the Akeman garrison except women, children and a handful of soldiers after the Dyrham fight of combined British armies against the Saxons. The British garrison moves across to the West Gate to meet the invading Saxons. Women and children are praying at the Christian church for victory. The Captain of the Guard, an old, white-bearded man, salutes the Queen but complains about the state of the defences; she is more confident they will be saved and impels them all to defend the wall. A first messenger arrives with news that the Saxons have routed the British army, which she doubts. A second messenger arrives and collapses, wearing a black scarf, the sign of defeat, and tells the Queen of a great defeat and the death of Farinmael the King. The Queen is dumbstruck. A crowd comes back, crying ‘The Saxons! The Saxons The North Gate is down! Save yourself!’2 The crowd attempts to flee the city. The British garrison arrives, chased by Saxons, and forms a last stand around the Queen. The Britons are taken alive by Ceawlin. On hearing definitive news of Farinmael’s death, the Queen stabs herself and dies. Ceawlin orders her to be taken to the Temple and ceremonially burned on a pyre. Ceawlin is hailed by the Saxons who drag out an aged priest. Ceawlin addresses the priest about the Christian gods and asks him to foretell the future. The priest says he cannot: ‘I am a priest, not a wizard.’ However, he does tell of a dream: ‘That here, where a Queen died, a King shall be crowned. That here in Britain, where nation fights against nation, there shall be one people, of one faith, having one peace under one King.’ Ceawlin is awed and the priest goes back into the burning temple.

Episode III. The Coronation of King Edgar, AD 973

The Church of St Peter and St Paul at Bath with an altar and thrones for a King and Queen. A crowd enters, jostling and cheering the King. The Royal procession approaches, with the King and Queen, archbishops and various religious ranks. The crowd, led by the Saxon thane Godric, hails them again, remarking on the King’s victories. Edgar acknowledges them and tells of his fight to unite the kingdom of England. Archbishops Dunstan and Oswald take up their position at the altar ready for anointing. They begin to recite the coronation oath. The choir begins to sing the ‘Te Deum’, followed by the whole body of the congregation. Edgar prostrates himself before the altar, though Elfrida only kneels. They are escorted to their thrones. Dunstan continues the coronation service and prayers [which were performed as a dumb-show]. They are both given unction and crowned. The people acclaim them, and then all exit.

Episode IV. King Henry VII Visits Bath, AD 1497

A shepherd lad playing a pipe sings a son, then sits down with his sheep dog and eats and drinks. Other labourers with oxen come on stage and sing a folksong. Bells are heard, and monks are heard singing psalms. A prior and bishop enter and discuss the religious life and the King’s support for the church. The Bishop tells of a dream in which the King is the true patron of the church, predicting he will come to build to the glory of God. A guard of bowmen arrives with a Tudor band, knights, pages, ladies of the court, the high treasurer and finally the King. A group of maidens sing ‘Hail, our gracious Henry Seven/Royal Lord to England given/Guard and Guide thee, holy Heaven/Guard of England’s King.’ The King asks the Bishop how Bath goes, and the Bishop complains about the disrepair of his church. The King is moved to pay from his own funds for its repair. The Bishop rejoices that his dream has come true and retires to the Abbey. There is then a joust.

Episode V. Visit of Queen Elizabeth to Bath, AD 1590

The scene is before the Abbey with a prisoner in the stocks. Boys of the Grammar School and a crowd of alms-takers and pensioners, and many others, jostle around. Apprentices pelt the prisoner with eggs and vegetables and josh him. A maypole is set up. Nell Colthurst, ‘a pretty girl of the people about eighteen’, takes pity on him. A sergeant arrives and restores order. A young William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe enter arm in arm with players. Shakespeare, addressing Marlowe as ‘Coz’, declares of the town’s beauty: ‘Hid mid its hills like Eve in Paradise/It lacks no loveliness could tempt the soul’; and Marlowe admits it is nicer than ‘the brawling town. And midnight at the Mermaid.’ He is given a rose by a pretty girl. A fortune teller reads his fortune and foretells his death ‘But three short years—but three! Thou’rt playing tables i’ the Deptford Inn! Thy dagger! ’Tis snatched from thee! Guard thine eye!’

They are interrupted by the Queen’s arrival. A madrigal is sung. The Mayor hands keys to the Queen, and the crowd acclaims her. The Queen rejoices in the glory of God, who delivered them from ‘the armed might of Spain’ and recounts their recent glorious deliverance. Raleigh and Northumberland discuss the beauty of Bath. The Mayor presents Shakespeare, ‘who hath lately joined the Lord Strange’s players; and for to-night hath writ a noble Interlude.’ Shakespeare praises the Queen before being presented by his friend Raleigh to the court. The Queen gives donations to the beggars and the various charitable and hospital houses.

A masque of Prince Bladud is performed by mummers, featuring the Fairy of the healing spring and King Lud Hudibras, whose son is restored to health. Lady Arabella Stewart says ‘the witless oaf who wrote it knew more of swine than princes.’ The Queen presents papers to the Rector of Bath, then the procession moves on. The scene closes with Country and Maypole dances and a madrigal.

Episode VI. The Battle of Lansdown, 6 July 1643

A brushwood hedge, lined with Roundhead musketeers with culverins and Sir William Waller with Roundhead horse behind the breastwork. The battle features: 50 Roundhead horse; 30 Cavalier horse; 50 Roundhead footmen; 150 Cavalier footmen; 120 pikemen; and 30 musketeers. The trumpet sounds; ‘Boot and Saddle’ and Roundheads fall in. Hazelrig rides up to Waller and receives orders to draw out the Cavalier soldiers. Trumpets sound, and Hazwelrig and the horse ride out. Roundheads appear chased by Cavalier soldiers. Cavaliers wheel off field, and Roundheads take up the defences in disorder. There is the sound of drums when Cavalier Cornish troops enter with colours flying under Sir Bevil Grenville and attack the Roundhead defences, but they are repulsed. Sir Bevil rallies them, and again they advance. Sir Bevil is mortally wounded and taken from his horse in the assault. Anthony Payne rallies them once again, and the Cavaliers overwhelm the Roundheads who retreat. Sir Ralph Hopton mourns his dead friend. The Marquis of Hertford remarks: ‘’Tis a victory dearly bought. I would ‘twere 5000 men than he.’ Pikemen lay Bevil on crossed pikes and bear his body off in silence.

Episode VII. The Glorious Time of Beau Nash and Ralph Allen, 1752

A chorus sings ‘Ode to the Bath Gardens’. The Earl of Chesterfield greets Beau Nash. Various lords and ladies discuss the society of Bath and its various attractions and beautiful women. People acclaim a poem by Henry Fielding: ‘Soon shall these bounteous springs thy wish bestow’. After more of this, the city companies of Bath, the masons, carpenters, joiners, cabinet-makers, tylers and plasterers, bakers, barbers, grocers, chandlers (etc.) process in followed by the mayor, councillors, aldermen, sergeants-at-mace (etc.) and a band playing tunes. Beau Nash greets the mayor, but the conversation is interrupted by ceremonial cannon. Princess Amelia enters in a sedan chair with footmen and pages and Scots Guards; she greets Nash playfully. More cannons are discharged to announce various Earls, Dukes, and the Duke of Cumberland on horseback who is warmly greeted by Princess Amelia, who presents Beau Nash and Ralph Allen. Musicians play a brief quartet. The town recorder announces that the freedom of the city is conferred upon the visitors. Various Duke and Duchesses, etc., pair up and dance a minuet. Ralph Allen escorts their Royal Highnesses to the Prior Park where a dinner is laid on. Various cheers of ‘God Save the King’ and ‘Long Live King George!’ are heard, and ‘other patriotic airs will be played by the bands.’

Episode VIII. The Visit of Queen Charlotte to Bath in 1817

A crowd has gathered. Mrs Piozzi recalls the coronation of George III and Queen Charlotte and talks of her dead friends, Johnson, Garrick, Burke and Reynolds. Madame D’Arblay and Hannah More also recount past times. The Queen’s procession enters, and the band plays ‘God Save the King’. The Queen thanks all gathered for their kind welcome. The Mayor drinks to the health and happiness of the town from a glass of the town’s water and offers one to the Queen, who is presented with flowers. The Duke of Clarence hails the Admirals responsible for the victories over the French. Other citizens of Bath, writers and other notables are presented to the Queen. The Rev. W.L. Bowles recites verses. An ‘Ode in Honour of the Queen and the Bath Waters’ is sung. The Queen thanks them all with the words ‘God protect Bath’. All withdraw.

Bath Literary Characters and Celebrities

There is then a scene with Choric Ode recited by a chorus and the personification of the River Avon, as the characters from the previous scenes process. Authors connected to Bath approach and draw out from the crowd famous characters from their books (the authors, some of whom have already appeared, are listed in the ‘key historical figures’ section). Eventually only Shakespeare remains musing until Cupid presents to him Sonnets CLIII and CLIV, which he recites.

Homage From the Western World

The ‘Ladye Bath’, personifying the city, makes her way to a throne to receive the HOMAGE FROM THE WESTERN WORLD. By her side is a swordbearer and a soldier with the British flag. Two maidens representing towns called Bath in Canada enter with maple leaves, corn and fruit. ‘O’ Canada’ is sung. Ladye Bath greets them. Then come silver-clad maidens from the United States with heralds carrying banners of their particular states. They are greeted again and the band plays the ‘Star Spangled Banner’. There is further acclamation, greeting and exchanging symbols of friendship and fealty. The ‘National Air common to Great Britain and United States’ is played with the following song:

All folk upon the earth
Sprang from one common birth,
Children of God.
Lord of Humanity,
Teach us Fraternity,
Peace let the watchword be
In all the earth.

Bells ring, cannons boom, doves fly up, there is cheering, and Mother Bath is covered with a shower of roses as they bear her away to the strains of ‘O God Our Help in Ages Past’.

National Hymns of Britain, America and Canada

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Ceawlin (d. 593) king of the Gewisse
  • Edgar [called Edgar Pacificus] (943/4–975) king of England
  • Ælfthryth (d. 999x1001) queen of England, consort of King Edgar [also known as Elfrida]
  • Dunstan [St Dunstan] (d. 988) archbishop of Canterbury
  • Oswald [St Oswald] (d. 992) archbishop of York
  • Henry VII (1457–1509) king of England and lord of Ireland
  • King, Oliver (d. 1503) bishop of Bath and Wells
  • Elizabeth I (1533–1603) queen of England and Ireland
  • Harington, John, first Baron Harington of Exton (1539/40–1613) courtier and landowner
  • Percy, Henry, ninth earl of Northumberland (1564–1632) nobleman
  • Cecil, William, first Baron Burghley (1520/21–1598) royal minister [Baron Burleigh]
  • Shakespeare, William (1564–1616) playwright and poet
  • Marlowe [Marley], Christopher (bap. 1564, d. 1593) playwright and poet
  • Prynne, William (1600–1669) pamphleteer and lawyer
  • Ralegh, Sir Walter (1554–1618) courtier, explorer, and author [also known as Raleigh, Sir Walter]
  • Lady Arabella [Arbella] (1575–1615) noblewoman and royal kinswoman
  • Hopton, Ralph, Baron Hopton (bap. 1596, d. 1652) royalist army officer
  • Grenville [Grenvile], Sir Bevil [Bevill] (1596–1643) royalist army officer
  • Maurice, prince palatine of the Rhine (1621–1652) royalist army officer and naval officer [also known as Maurice, Prince]
  • Dormer, Robert, first earl of Carnarvon (1610?–1643) royalist army officer
  • Fuller, Thomas (1607/8–1661) Church of England clergyman
  • Ley, James, third earl of Marlborough (1618/19–1665) naval officer
  • Waller, Sir William (bap. 1598?, d. 1668) parliamentarian army officer
  • Popham, Alexander (1604/5–1669) politician and parliamentarian army officer
  • Payne, Antony [Anthony; called Cornish Giant] (d. 1691?) giant
  • Cavendish, William, fourth duke of Devonshire (bap. 1720, d. 1764) prime minister
  • Scudamore, Frances Fitzroy- [Frances Scudamore, duchess of Beaufort] (1711–1750)
  • Russell, John, fourth duke of Bedford (1710–1771) politician
  • Stanhope, Philip Dormer, fourth earl of Chesterfield (1694–1773) politician and diplomatist
  • Pulteney, William, earl of Bath (1684–1764) politician
  • William Augustus, Prince, duke of Cumberland (1721–1765) army officer
  • Perceval, John, second earl of Egmont (1711–1770) politician
  • Hastings [née Shirley], Selina, countess of Huntingdon (1707–1791) founder of the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion
  • Chudleigh, Elizabeth [married names Elizabeth Hervey, countess of Bristol; Elizabeth Pierrepont, duchess of Kingston upon Hull] (c.1720–1788) courtier and bigamist
  • Montagu [née Robinson], Elizabeth (1718–1800) author and literary hostess
  • Parker, George, second earl of Macclesfield (c.1697–1764) astronomer and politician
  • Boscawen, Edward (1711–1761) naval officer and politician
  • Howard, Henry, twelfth earl of Suffolk and fifth earl of Berkshire (1739–1779) politician
  • Cope, Sir John [Jonathan] (1690–1760) army officer
  • Pitt, William, first earl of Chatham [known as Pitt the elder] (1708–1778) prime minister
  • Fox, Henry, first Baron Holland of Foxley (1705–1774) politician
  • Pitt [née Grenville], Hester, countess of Chatham and suo jure Baroness Chatham (1720–1803) political wife
  • Burke, Edmund (1729/30–1797) politician and author [also known as Burke]
  • Amelia [Emily], Princess (1711–1786) daughter of George II
  • Walpole, Horatio [Horace], fourth earl of Orford (1717–1797) author, politician, and patron of the arts
  • Wilkes, John (1725–1797) politician
  • Fielding, Henry (1707–1754) author and magistrate
  • Fielding, Sarah (1710–1768) novelist
  • Richardson, Samuel (bap. 1689, d. 1761) printer and author
  • Smollett, Tobias George (1721–1771) writer
  • Pritchard [née Vaughan], Hannah (1709–1768) actress and singer
  • Wolfe, James (1727–1759) army officer
  • Wood, John (bap. 1704, d. 1754) architect and town planner
  • William IV (1765–1837) king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and king of Hanover
  • Elizabeth, Princess (1770–1840) landgravine of Hesse-Homburg, consort of Friedrich VI
  • Fitzmaurice, Henry Petty-, third marquess of Lansdowne (1780–1863) politician
  • Elphinstone, George Keith, Viscount Keith (1746–1823) naval officer and politician
  • Elphinstone [née Thrale], Hester Maria, Viscountess Keith (1764–1857) protégée of Samuel Johnson
  • Halford [formerly Vaughan], Sir Henry, first baronet (1766–1844) physician
  • Taylor, Sir Herbert (1775–1839) courtier and army officer
  • Saumarez, James, first Baron de Saumarez (1757–1836) naval officer
  • Digby, Kenelm Henry (1795/6–1880) writer
  • Otway, Sir Robert Waller, first baronet (1770–1846) naval officer
  • Piozzi [née Salusbury; other married name Thrale], Hester Lynch (1741–1821) writer
  • Fellowes, Sir James (c.1771–1857) physician
  • More, Hannah (1745–1833) writer and philanthropist
  • Crabbe, George (1754–1832) poet and Church of England clergyman
  • Bowles, William Lisle (1762–1850) Church of England clergyman and poet
  • Anstey, John (bap. 1757, d. 1819) poet and barrister
  • Sheridan, Richard Brinsley (1751–1816) playwright and politician
  • Burney [married name D'Arblay], Frances [Fanny] (1752–1840) writer
  • Austen, Jane (1775–1817) novelist
  • Lytton, Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer [formerly Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer], first Baron Lytton (1803–1873) writer and politician
  • Dickens, Charles John Huffam (1812–1870) novelist
  • Daniel, Samuel (1562/3–1619) poet and historian
  • Pope, Alexander (1688–1744) poet
  • Wesley [Westley], John (1703–1791) Church of England clergyman and a founder of Methodism
  • Warburton, William (1698–1779) bishop of Gloucester and religious controversialist
  • Warner, Richard (1763–1857) antiquary

Musical production

Full orchestra and a choir of around 400.

  • W.F.C. Schottler, arr. Fanfare of Trumpets (Episode I).
  • J.W. Dwys. Bath Pageant March (Episode I).
  • F.H. Tapp. Standard Bearer’s Solo and People’s Hymn (Episode I).
  • Gounod. ‘Marche Solennelle’ (Episode II). 
  • Schottler. Fanfare of Trumpets (Episode III).
  • Ambrosian Te Deum (Episode III).
  • H.P. Allen, arr. Plainsong, ‘Unxerunt Confortare’, (Episode III). 
  • J.S. Heap. arr. Shepherd’s Song; Labourer’s Song; 101st Psalm Plainsong; Chorale; Maiden’s Song; Fanfare of Trumpets (Episode IV).
  • H.J. Davis. Maypole Song and Dance (Episode V).
  • A.C.L. Hylton Steward. Madrigal (Episode V).
  • Edward German. Masque Music from As You Like It (Episode V). 
  • Schottler, arr. Cornish March; 68th Psalm (Episode VI).
  • J.S. Heap, arr. Introduction and Ode to Bath Gardens (Episode VII).
  • Trad. Somerset Regimental March (Episode VII).
  • A.E. New. Male Voice Quartet (Episode VII). 
  • Dr. Harrington (1727–1818) Minuet (Episode VII).
  • Purcell, arr. Schottler. ‘Britons, Strike Home’ (Episode VIII).
  • H.T. Head. Madrigal (Episode VIII).
  • Sir Charles V. Stanford. Choric Ode (Episode VIII).
  • Hymn. ‘O God Our Help in Ages Past’
  • National Anthems.

Newspaper coverage of pageant

Manchester Guardian
The Times
Daily News
Daily Express
Daily Mail
Pall Mall Gazette
Daily Graphic
Daily Sketch
Morning Leader
Westminster Gazette
Illustrated London News
Black and White
Court Journal
Canadian Associated Press
New York Tribune
Daily Mirror
Bristol Times and Mirror
Manchester Courier
Leeds Mercury
Wells Journal
Sheffield Independent
Northern Daily Telegraph
Western Daily Press
Bristol Mercury
Health and Home
New York American
San Francisco Examiner
Bath Herald
Daily Bath Chronicle
Cheltenham Looker-On

Book of words

Bath Pageant July 19th to 24th, 1909 Book of Words. Bath, 1909.

Other primary published materials

  • Souvenir of the Bath Historical Pageant July 19th To 24th, 1909. Bath, 1909.
  • The Story of the Bath Pageant in Poetry Prose and Picture. Bath, 1910.

References in secondary literature

  • Swift, Andrew and Kirsten Elliott. The Year of the Pageant. Bathm 2009.
  • Yoshino, Ayako. Pageant Fever: Local History and Consumerism in Edwardian England. Tokyo, 2011.

Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Somerset Heritage Centre, Taunton: News Cuttings, Programme and Book of Words.
  • Bath and North East Somerset Record Office: Programme, Book of Words, Photographs, Press Cuttings, etc.

Sources used in preparation of pageant


Episode II from original sources with the help of F.E. Brightman of Magdalen College, Oxford and the Rev. S. Cooper, Vicar of Christ Church, Frome.


Edwardian Pageants can accurately be said to have followed a domino-effect where a pageant, either in the locality or in a town of similar size, provoked the inception of another—for the sake of keeping up appearances or from a desire not to be left behind. ‘Pageant Fever’ spread through mental or geographical proximity to a current sufferer. And so it was with Bath, which had to endure local pageants in Oxford in 1907, and Cheltenham and Winchester in 1908, towns with which Bath saw itself as in direct competition. Bath was a town which had declined slightly from its late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century heyday as the prime watering-hole of the great and good of English society to become a genteel retirement spot-cum-holiday, -relaxation and -therapy destination for the professional classes and those not quite rich enough to vacation in Monaco or the South of France. In short, though it was no longer a destination in the social calendar of the rich, influential and idle, Bath had become a thoroughly respectably bourgeois tourist location where a historical pageant would offer a prime opportunity to boost summer bookings.3

What is perhaps most striking is that Bath did not choose to hold an event sooner, some two years previously during the municipal millenary of the town.4 Perhaps most surprising is how tentatively Bath approached the subject of a pageant when the subject was first broached in December 1908, with the Bath Chronicle, reflecting the general mood of the meeting, voiced by Mr Russell Duckworth, asking whether ‘pageants have not lost their attractive power’ and noting that that there was ‘not sufficient enthusiasm to ensure success’ at the meeting. T.H. Miller was reported as saying that the pageants at Winchester and Cheltenham, which the Bath Pageant was following, had encountered huge difficulties and had come close to being abandoned.5 Duckworth noted that ’22 pageants have been held already, it seems that the pageant is overdone nowadays’, adding that many more were already planned for the following summer, including the English Church Pageant and the Pageant of Wales, as well as the ultimately postponed London Pageant, meaning that Bath would be competing in an already crowded field.6 When, the following week, the pageant was again proposed by the Mayor, with A.M. Broadley giving a rousing speech in defence of pageants, the paper gave a little more support, whilst retaining a note of hesitancy:

We admit that the idea of a Pageant has many sides; it appeals to varied tastes, and to differing notions and appreciations of things, events, people and periods. But all are reconcilable … In the highest and in the permanent interests of the city it is most important that it should be a success, a notable one, full of the germs of future prosperity to our grand old city … Bath cannot afford a failure: a success is only possibly by the hearty co-operation of all classes of citizens and of citizenesses. Will not such be given?7

As late as January, it seemed that there was little enthusiasm for the pageant, and it took the stalwart Lady de Blaquiere to goad the townspeople into something akin to the pageant spirit, declaring: ‘“Wake up, Bath”. This was a citizen’s movement—not a council movement—though she hoped the council would show its appreciation … but it was for the honour of Bath, and everyone must lend a hand and make it a success.’8 It is surprising to read that in 1909, at the height of Edwardian ‘Pageantitis’—and with at least another fifty years before the tradition became passé—commentators believed Britain to have reached a period of Peak Pageant. In any event, the dogged assurances evidently paid off, and the Manchester Guardian predicted the pageant’s great success after the first performance, stating: ‘That the public appetite for pageants is not yet appeased is clearly proved by the already assured financial success of that of Bath’.9

Preparations for the pageant, described in detail in Andrew Swift and Kirsten Elliott’s invaluable The Year of the Pageant (2009), involved a largely unremarkable trickle and then an outpouring of civic sentiment, as belatedly local volunteers signed up to act—though the council ultimately had to impress the city’s dustmen with the decidedly odd promise that they would be able to keep the underwear specially designed for the Ancient Britons of the first episode.10 There was the steady stream of predictably respectful column-filling articles in the Bath Chronicle and other local papers on the overall shape that the event was taking, discussing the grounds, the plans for the episodes (with predictable outcries in the letters pages as to what scenes or local personalities must not be left out), the logistics of producing 2000–3000 costumes, and the musical production.11 As early as March, when tickets began to be sold, it became clear that the pageant was likely to be a success, despite fears about the weather over the poor spring.12

The securing of Frank Lascelles, fresh from his success at the 1907 Oxford Pageant, would have acted as a hallmark guarantee of the pageant enterprise. Lascelles had surprisingly become available on his return from viewing the 1908 Quebec Tercentenary Pageant, when he acrimoniously broke with the upcoming English Church Pageant over its poor organisation (the committee had enacted few of his designs during his absence) and its refusal to countenance any inclusion of heterodox views. The Times subsequently reported that Lascelles ‘found…that the committee of the Pageant of the English Church contained only one school of thought, and that by no means a large one. It did not seem right to him that the different branches of the Church should be unrepresented on the executive committee.’13 Whether by design or by coincidence, the Bath Pageant was to have a relatively minor place for religion (certainly compared to pageants at Sherborne or Winchester), celebrating the pagan origins of Roman ‘Aquae Sulis’ as a coming-together of the British god Sul and the Roman goddess Minerva. The presence of the priest in Episode II, who impresses the Saxons with his prophecy before returning to the burning temple to die, was as much to justify Bath’s place as a spiritual centre of the British monarchy—‘Where a Queen died, a King shall be crowned’14—as to offer any particular religious significance. The religious element in the Coronation of King Edgar during the third episode is performed as a dumb-show (though similar scenes in the Bury St Edmunds Pageant of 1907 and Winchester 1908 were performed in full). The displacement of religion from the pageant, where it became at most a device for nation-building, was a foretaste of the increasing secularisation of civic pageantry after 1918.

Despite unsettled and unseasonably cold weather (with frosts throughout June), Lascelles cultivated newspapers both throughout the country and in the United States—notably inviting the San Francisco Examiner to dress rehearsals, organizing a saloon car on the Great Western specifically for them—to cultivate appreciation for the event and to guarantee favourable notices before the pageant began in earnest. Results, however, were mixed, with many newspapers criticizing the inaudibility of the dialogue and confusion of the drama.15 A number of newspapers suggested that Bath did not, in fact, have very much history to be going on with or, alternately, that it was a thoroughly backward-looking place, with the Daily News commenting that ‘in spite of all the efforts of its citizens to prove otherwise, Bath lives in the past.’16 The Times was more even-handed in its estimation:

Their beautiful town has not played any very important part in the kind of history which finds its way into the history books. Only two of the pageant’s episodes deal directly with the history of the country …Yet there is a sense in which Bath, from Roman times until well into the 19th century, has played a part of great importance in the history of England. As a centre of social and intellectual activity, a place where the pick of London graces and brains met to improve its leisure … Bath was for long a civilizing force, a sort of exchange of thought and manners.17

In the reporters’ judgment, whilst ‘such material is, on the fact of it, unsuited to pageantry … the difficulties have been fairly well overcome.’18

Thus the pageant opened to mixed signals, taking on board some of the criticism by truncating a couple of the episodes. The Bath Chronicle wrote appreciatively that ‘after seven months of the hardest labour and nearly a month of anxiety about the weather’, that ‘the opening day should have been favoured with the weather so glorious seemed an abundant reward. The general anticipation of a fine week ahead moreover raised everybody’s spirits.’19

Lascelles, like Parker, was an active and interventionist pageant master, taking great pains to direct the action as the performance unfolded. Based in a tiny command centre atop the grandstand, he set about controlling a cast of thousands through binoculars, with his assistant D.S. Kennedy semaphoring and telephoning the people on the ground with a view to ensuring that they assembled for each scene at precisely the right moment. As the Bath Chronicle, invited to watch from this vantage point, wrote:

One of Mr Lascelles’ great troubles has been to keep people, some of them who apparently have no business near the place at all, from calmly walking on where they are visible to the spectators. Even those engaged occasionally transgress in this manner, but Mr Lascelles’ quick eye speedily detects them, and a message is promptly telephoned to stewards at the particular spot to seize the delinquent.20

Alongside the reporter, Kennedy and Lascelles in the presumably crowded nerve centre of the pageant was none other than the proprietor of the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror, Lord Northcliffe, who presumably warmed to being at the centre of things. With obvious parallels to the networks of telephones at the Forward Command Centres of the First World War, this does much to disrupt the notion of nostalgic complacency and contemplative retrospection that the aura of Edwardian Pageantry creates.

It was not merely the ill-timing of performers who marred the view. The Chronicle reported that one party

arrived late and obstructed the view of many while they were finding their seats, [and] when accommodated declined to take off their head-gear, although it was of the most obstructive description—picture hats of formidable dimensions. When the much tried steward was appealed to by those in the rear he exclaimed ‘They have refused to take them off.’ Those ‘Ladies’ heard such remarks from onlookers in their immediate vicinity that they left the stand after watching two episodes—with their hats on.21

The most effective scene (closely-matched by the gorgeous ostentation of costumes—filled by every imaginable celebrity of the day—in the Beau Nash episode) was the Battle of Lansdown, firmly breaking with Parkerian pronouncements which dissuaded pageants from opening up old wounds. Featuring 450 men, horses and substantial artillery (taken from local army regiments), the episode was the largest of its kind attempted. As the Master of Horse, Captain Prowse, was reported as saying: ‘The great difficulty in arranging a battle scene is that there is such a small margin between the ridiculous and the sublime.’22 The episode was considered to have been a great success, with the current Lord Fairfax, who attended the pageant as a guest of honour, proposing a toast and expressing ‘the warmest satisfaction’.23 The deeply critical critic from the Times was mollified by the scene, remarking that ‘the firing and cavalry-charging are persuasively actual’.24

The Bath Chronicle was, predictably, sure of the pageant’s record-breaking success, declaring ‘there can be nothing but a succession of triumphs during the remaining days that have to come’.25 However, the Cheltenham-Looker-On rather snootily contrasted Bath with its own pageant the previous year and found the newcomer predictably wanting. Beginning ‘without wishing to draw comparisons between the two Pageants’, it proceeded to do precisely that: ‘We can safely assert that the spectacles at Bath do not surpass those which we witnessed at Pittville last year.’26 The grounds, which apparently sloped away from the audience, drew its condescension. However, the latter episodes, featuring Beau Nash and Queen Charlotte, were evidently as attractive, as they were strewn with famous historical persons who might plausibly have visited Bath once or twice. The reporter added: ‘We found nothing very striking in either the music or dancing, and should characterise both as weak in comparison with Cheltenham. For one thing the orchestra and chorus are placed much too far away.’ Moving from inter-town to inter-county rivalry, the On-Looker declared that the battle scene paled in comparison with the Battle of Tewksbury which featured in Gloucester’s Pageant, which had been, ‘in our opinion, far more realistic’. After a dismissive run-down of each scene, the petulant journalist commented that the final scene, where the daughter towns of Bath across the Empire proceeded across the pageant with great pomp and circumstance, was the ‘most striking and beautiful, though not, in our judgment, so effective as a spectacle as the wonderful massing and march past of the whole of the performers in the Cheltenham Pageant.’27

Despite Cheltenham’s best efforts to tarnish its glory, The Pageant of Bath had been, to all but the most-jaundiced lookers-on, a great success. Speaking after the final performance, Lascelles declared that ‘Bath will have a place very near my heart, and let my last words be: ‘God protect Bath’.’28 Lady de Blaquiere, who played the Lady Bath, the Spirit of the Pageant, addressing a banquet of Canadian and American Bathonians, made the following decidedly weak joke:

As their hosts, they might perhaps be blamed for inviting their guests to a city which was presumably a health resort, but suffering much from a terribly infections disease, but they all caught it so charmingly and immediately, and went through their ‘Pageantitis’ with so much pleasure that they hoped to be forgiven. They were all assured that it was a disease that never recurred except in the case of the Master of the Pageant, who they understood was keenly susceptible.29

Eleven thousand people attended the promenade concert in the city gardens on the final night. In fact, this was only a little less than had attended the pageant over its five-day run.

The pageant itself was not hugely profitable, making only £275 before further donations increased the figure to just shy of £1000 (compared to £2500 at Winchester).30 Nonetheless, as Swift and Elliott, in their compendious study, conclude, the pageant succeeded in its main mission of raising the city’s profile as a centre of tourism for national and international visitors, declaring that ‘it is by no means certain [tourism] would have become as central to the city’s economy … if the Pageant had not kick-started the process a century ago. The open-top buses that trundle round the streets today are a direct consequence of that initiative, which prepared the way for a fundamental shift from Bath as health resort to Bath as tourist Mecca.’31 Despite its ostensible success, few other pageants—and certainly none approximating the grandeur of 1909—were held in Bath. A Festival of Britain Pageant of 1951 failed to attract sufficient interest and was cancelled in the face of council opposition.32 Although three small-scale events described as 'historical pageants' were put on in the 1980s, these did not take the form of dramatic re-enactments of history, being more like funfairs than anything else (posters advertising the 1981 pageant invited visitors to 'dress up in period costume and enter the "Best dressed family group in costume" competition'; other attractions included a police exhibition and a remote controlled car display). 

Overall, then, the 1909 Bath Historical Pageant may not have been the greatest example of Edwardian pageantry in terms of dramatic performance; nor was it the most profitable, the best attended, or the most historically significant. It was, however, a success in turning Bath’s greatest asset—its history—into a marketable commodity.


  1. ^ Bath Chronicle, 14 July 1910, 3.
  2. ^ Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations in these synopses are taken from Bath Pageant July 19th to 24th, 1909 Book of Words (Bath, 1909).
  3. ^ This is described in great detail in Andrew Swift and Kirsten Elliott, The Year of the Pageant (Bath, 2009).
  4. ^ Manchester Guardian, 18 July 1909, 7.
  5. ^ Bath Chronicle, 10 December 1908, quoted in The Story of the Bath Pageant in Poetry Prose and Picture (Bath, 1910), 128–129, Bath and North East Somerset Records Office. Ref 0433; See The Year of the Pageant, 525–530.
  6. ^ The Story of the Bath Pageant, 130; The Year of the Pageant, 529.
  7. ^ Bath Chronicle, 17 December 1908, 12.
  8. ^ Bath Chronicle, 14 January 1909, quoted in The Story of the Bath Pageant, 131.
  9. ^ Manchester Guardian, 18 July 1909, 7.
  10. ^ The Year of the Pageant, 553–554.
  11. ^ Ibid, 539–547.
  12. ^ Ibid, 556.
  13. ^ Times, 10 June 1909, 9.
  14. ^ Bath Pageant July 19th to 24th, 1909 Book of Words (Bath, 1909), 20.
  15. ^ The Year of the Pageant, 556-561.
  16. ^ Quoted in The Year of the Pageant, 561.
  17. ^ Times, 19 July 1909, 12.
  18. ^ Ibid.
  19. ^ Bath Chronicle, 19 July 1909, quoted in The Story of the Bath Pageant, 141.
  20. ^ Bath Chronicle, 19 July 1909, quoted in The Story of the Bath Pageant, 141.
  21. ^ Bath Chronicle, 22 July 1909, 4.
  22. ^ Bath Chronicle, 21 July 1909, quoted in The Story of the Bath Pageant, 218.
  23. ^ Ibid. See also Manchester Guardian, 18 July 1909, 7.
  24. ^ Times, 20 July 1909, 10. See Ayako Yoshino, Pageant Fever: Local History and Consumerism in Edwardian England (Tokyo, 2011), 145–147.
  25. ^ Bath Chronicle, 19 July 1909, quoted in The Story of the Bath Pageant, 141.
  26. ^ Cheltenham Looker-On, 24 July 1909, 6.
  27. ^ Ibid.
  28. ^ Bath Chronicle, 26 July 1909, quoted in The Story of the Bath Pageant, 158.
  29. ^ Ibid.
  30. ^ The Year of the Pageant, 688.
  31. ^ Ibid, 689.
  32. ^ Bath Chronicle, 29 May 1929, 13; Bath Chronicle, 21 October 1951, 1.

How to cite this entry

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