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100 years ago: Season for pageants

25 June 2008

June 26th, 1908.

IN THIS glorious weather pageants are again the order of the day. It will be a long time before we have exhausted, for dramatic and scenic purposes, the historic memories of our national and local life. This week the unrivalled traditions of the old Wessex City of Winchester are revived in scenic representa-tion.

It is pleasing also to record what is being done on a more modest scale in a district of London, which can boast an interesting and respectable history, though not of the national importance which attaches to Winchester. In ten episodes the story of Chelsea is being presented in the old Ranelagh Gardens of the Royal Hospital.

A little indulgence has to be given to the enthusiasts who claim for Chelsea the honour of being connected with Cæsar’s crossing of the Thames on his march to meet Cassivellaunus. But for this, it would have been difficult, perhaps, to find an excuse for showing us the Britons and the followers of the Druid cult. Afterwards, however, we get on to surer ground, and we see the meeting of the Synod of Chelsea, at which the Archbishop of Canterbury protests against the creation by Offa of an Archbishopric of Lichfield, and at which the pallium is conferred on the new Archbishop by the Papal Legates. Then we have the May Day Revels, the visit of Henry VIII. to Blessed Thomas More — a very effective scene indeed — the funeral procession of Anne of Cleves, two episodes in which Queen Elizabeth visits the Manor House, and other episodes in which Dr Johnson, Dean Swift, Richard Steele, and a host of other worthies make their appearance.

The whole thing is done with great charm and skill, and should give Londoners a most agreeable entertainment.

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