It was started by entrepreneur Louis N Parker back in.1908 – a year after he had helped to organise the Lord Mayor’s Show in London. Dover College, the Priory St Martin’s, was the site for those celebrations for the town’s first pageant. Thousands flocked to the inaugural event but there weren’t big audiences for the 1999 version – just 140 spectators on Sunday and more than 200 on Monday. But despite the dwindling attendances, a new spirit emerged for Dover’s final pageant of the millennium. Modern-day master of ceremonies Mike McFarnell said he hoped the enormous community effort involved helped revive the fortunes of both the pageant and the Dover area itself.
He said: “Dover had its problems recently and we hope this is a positive step forward for the town. “We hope the pageant brought a needed ray of sunshine to a troubled area.” Mike thanked everyone who contributed to bringing the history of Dover alive through narration, music and dance, including sponsors the Dover Express and Saga.
He added: “Thank you to all our many supporters and patrons, who have given us the resources to stage this important and magnificent event.”
2008 Dover Pageant will be in 100 years on from the town’s first spectacular event.
With stately grace and heraldic glamour the 1999 Dower Pageant re-enacted the passage of the town’s rich history through the centuries. Seated on chairs and blankets, the audience enjoyed an ideal mix of ceremony and sunshine famous figures from history paraded through the magnificent 12th century grounds of Dover College. Rain threatened the second of the two day held on Sunday and Monday, and umbrellas went up but the sun eventually shone.
The script for the pageant – written by Noreen Thomas, telling the story of Dover.
The two hour long Pageant, under the patronage of the Queen Mother and with a cast of more than 200, opened to a fanfare of music. With costumes of glittering cloth and amour shimmering in the light, the scores of actors began their journey through time.
The Knights of the Round Table – led by Dover Express, editor Nick Hudson as King Arthur, on horse back and sitting comfortably. People of all ages played a part in the magnificent historical tale. Young dancers, dressed as rats, flitted across the grassy stage representing the Black Death. The climax of the first half was a scene depicting the War of the Roses. As the narrator said: “A glamorous name for not very glamorous times. ” After a brief interval, the action restarted with the marriage of Henry Tudor to EIizabeth of York. The pageant travelled across the Channel to France. Pat Mills directed two scenes, the Huguenots’ escape from religious persecution and the deadly Madame Guillotine from the French Revolution. Slices of history from the 20th century included the Roaring Twenties, with flappers doing the Charlstone. Reflecting Kent’s status as the Garden of England, hop pickers took a turn in the spotlight.
One of the pageant’s directors, DODS’ player Mike ScurfieId, raised the biggest laugh of the two day spectacular with his portrayal of Louis N. Parker – the man responsible for bringing the event to Dover 91 years ago.
The trip through the centuries – nearly complete with CJ Dancers jitterbugging to in the Mood, directed by Carol Jenkins. For the grand finale the actors, on horseback as well as foot, paraded in all their glory for a final time banners representing 44 different places across the world were paraded before the spectators.
By REBECCA SMTH