The Queens of England Pageant
Place: St Mary’s Vicarage (South Benfleet) (South Benfleet, Essex, England)
Number of performances: 1
18 July 1953
Name of pageant master and other named staff
- Written and Produced by [Pageant Master]: Green, A.E.
- Scenic Artist: Alan Cuthbert
- Costumes: Betty Prior, Helen Cole, Pauline Clark
- Stage Carpenter: Edward Sparrow
Names of executive committee or equivalent
Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)
- Green, A.E.
Names of composers
Numbers of performers
Object of any funds raised
In honour of the Coronation of Elizabeth II.
- Grandstand: Not Known
- Grandstand capacity: n/a
- Total audience: n/a
Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest
The pageant was held during a garden party at the Benfleet Vicarage.
Set in a present-day classroom
Episode I. The First British Queen, A.D. 61
Boudicea speaks after being scourged and beaten by the Romans
Episode II. The Flight of Matilda, A.D. 1142
Warned by the Earl of Gloucester, Matilda flees from her husband, Stephen
Episode III. The Tragic Lady Jane, 1553
Perfectly composed, this shortest reigning Queen goes to the block.
Episode IV. Bloody Mary, 1556
The Catholic Queen, strongly influenced by Spain, persecuted and burned all so-called Heretics.
Episode V. The First Elizabeth, 1587
One of our greatest Queens finally signs Mary Queen of Scots’ death warrant after repeated pressure from Lord Burley
Episode VI. A Royal Gift, 1694
William and Mary donate the Royal Hospital at Greenwich
Episode VII. Union with Scotland, 1707
In spite of antagonism from prominent ministers led by Hamilton, Anne signs the treaty and forms the first United Parliament.
Episode VIII. Memories, 1896
A gracious and beloved Queen recalls some of her favourite ministers through the medium of her now famous diary.
Key historical figures mentioned
- Boudicca [Boadicea] (d. AD 60/61) queen of the Iceni
- Matilda [Matilda of England] (1102–1167) empress, consort of Heinrich V
- Grey [married name Dudley], Lady Jane (1537–1554) noblewoman and claimant to the English throne
- Mary I (1516–1558) queen of England and Ireland
- Cranmer, Thomas (1489–1556) archbishop of Canterbury
- Elizabeth I (1533–1603) queen of England and Ireland
- Cecil, William, first Baron Burghley (1520/21–1598) royal minister [ Baron Burleigh]
- William III and II (1650–1702) king of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and prince of Orange
- Mary II (1662–1694) queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland
- Anne (1665–1714) queen of Great Britain and Ireland
- Hamilton, James, fourth duke of Hamilton and first duke of Brandon (1658–1712) nobleman
- Victoria (1819–1901) queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and empress of India
Newspaper coverage of pageant
Book of words
Other primary published materials
The Queens of England Pageant 1953: Souvenir Programme. Benfleet, 1953. [Price 6d.]
References in secondary literature
Archival holdings connected to pageant
- Digitised copy of the programme available on the Benfleet Community Archive: http://www.benfleethistory.org.uk/page/the_queens_of_england_1953_pageant (accessed 1 June 2016)
Sources used in preparation of pageant
In 1946 a pageant had been staged in the grounds of the vicarage at South Benfleet in Essex, and another – depicting different episodes – was put on during a garden party to celebrate the Coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953. This was a popular time for historical pageantry, as had been the case in 1951 when the Festival of Britain was accompanied by many local pageants. In 1953 the scenes ranged from Roman times, with Boudicca featuring, to the late nineteenth century and a portrayal of Queen Victoria, which even now was comparatively rare in historical pageants.1 As with other pageants in the same year (see, for example, St Albans Pageant 1953), this Benfleet pageant focused on ‘a few of the tragedies, successes and failures of England’s queens’, including in this case Lady Jane Grey and Queen Anne, among others.2 Little information is available about this pageant, but the souvenir programme contained a list of the actors playing the main roles. There was an educational purpose to the pageant: the prologue was set in a schoolroom, and schoolchildren were present. As noted, this was not the first pageant in Benfleet, and nor was it the last: there was another in 1994.
- See Tom Hulme, ‘A Queen Who Can’t Be Seen: Pageants and Censorship in the 1930s’ (2014): http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/blog/queen-who-cant-be-seen-pageants-and-censorship/ (accessed 30 June 2016).
- The Queens of England Pageant 1953: Souvenir Programme (Benfleet, 1953), n.p. Digitised version at http://www.benfleethistory.org.uk/page/the_queens_of_england_1953_pageant (accessed 30 June 2016).
How to cite this entry
Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘The Queens of England Pageant’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/989/