Twentieth-century Britain was subject to regular bouts of 'pageant fever'. Communities of all sizes and character across England, Scotland and Wales staged theatrical re-enactments of events from local and national history with thousands of men, women and children involved as performers, organizers and spectators. The fever was especially intense at certain times, notably the Edwardian era, the 1930s and 1950s (encouraged by the Festival of Britain and the 1953 Coronation), but the tradition never fully died out and there were revivals in the 1970s and during the millennium celebrations.

Despite the rich insights that these apparently ephemeral events can give into popular understandings of the past, the phenomenon of historical pageants has largely escaped academic scrutiny. This project aimed to provide for the first time an authoritative treatment of the subject. Drawing on oral and written evidence, the project team compiled detailed records of every important pageant known to have been staged in Great Britain since 1905. KDL ingested these record documents into an SQL database and built a Django-based website that allows users to browse and search the pageants database in various ways. The website also provides permanent records of three exhibitions that the project team mounted with cultural heritage partners in Bury St. Edmunds,  Scarborough, and Carlisle. A feature of the site which has proved popular with visitors to the exhibitions and with pageant participants interviewed by the team is a facility that allows members of the public to upload their own pageant-related images which are then publicly viewable in the site's image gallery.

Link to The Redress of the Past website

The team

  • Paul Readman

    Paul Readman

    Principal Investigator

    Professor in Modern British History, Department of History (King's College London)

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    Mark Freeman


    Reader, UCL Institute of Education, University College London

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    Angela Bartie


    Senior Lecturer in Scottish History, School of History, Classics & Archaeology, The University of Edinburgh

  • King's College London

    Paul Vetch


    Project period: Senior Lecturer, Head of Research in the Department of Digital Humanities (King's College London)

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    Paul Caton

    Project Analyst

    Senior Research Software Analyst, King's Digital Lab

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    Ginestra Ferrarro

    Project UI/UX designer

    Senior Research UI/UX Designer, King's Digital Lab

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  • King's College London

    Luis Figueira

    Project Developer

    Project period: Research Software Developer, King's Digital Lab

  • King's College London

    Charlotte Tupman

    Project Analyst

    Project period: Research Associate, Department of Digital Humanities, (King's College London).

  • Glasgow_SQ

    Linda Fleming

    Research Associate

    Project period:  Post-doctoral research associate, University of Glasgow

  • King's College London

    Tom Hulme

    Research Associate

    Project period: Research Associate (King's College London)

  • Alex Hutton

    Alexander Hutton

    Research Associate

    Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow, Department of History  (King's College London)