1919 Eversley Pageant

The 1919 Pageant was interesting in many respects, as much for what it did not include  as for what it did and who participated and who did not.  For example although the children from St Neots (a private school in Eversley) took part no mention is made of children from the village school founded by Charles Kingsley and named after him. However the splendid panoramic photograph of the pageant participants shows children ,most probably from the school, lined up and grinning at the camera.

1919 was a year of political ferment and uncertainty. The Russian revolution was exercising the British ruling class.  The Secretary of State, Winston Churchill,  advocated supporting Germany – only very recently  an enemy –  in order to counter the spread of Bolshevism. In the UK thirty-four million days were lost in strikes. Paranoia spread amongst the elite with the spectre of a new order replacing all that was familiar.  The 1919 Pageant, therefore, can be seen as an expression of support for the old order. Most of the village were involved and visitors totalled 9000, with special trains laid on to bring festival-goers from the metropolis. All in all,  it was quite an event in Eversley’s history.

Peter Ormrod

A footnote on the pageant producer, Captain Arthur Eliot – clearly  this Eversley resident was an exceptional character.

Hon. Arthur Ernest Henry Eliot (1874-1936) was the sixth child and
fourth son of Colonel the Hon. Charles Eliot Cornwallis Eliot and
Constance Rhiannon nee Guest, of Port Eliot, St Germans, Cornwall.
The younger brother of the 7th and 8th Earls St. Germans, Arthur
(known to his friends and family as Ernie) was the 'black sheep' of
the family having established a career as an actor/manager soon after
leaving Charterhouse. The 1911 census shows him as Editor of 'Vanity
Fair'. He had served in the Boer War and joined up again in 1914 as a
Captain in the Army Service Corps. In 1916 he was invalided out, and
in 1917 he was co-author of 'The Better 'Ole, or the Romance of Old
Bill' - one of the most successful musicals in WW1. It ran in the
West End for 811 performances and on Broadway for 353 performances.
In 1919, the year of the pageant, the show was running in five
different cities in North America.   

This link to a source of information on British pageants has some fascinating background  detail. See here

Below are extracts from the pageant programme. At 2 shillings, it was  expensive for many.