Throughout 2014-15, local communities across the UK are marking the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta with a host of varied festivities – from Odiham's specially commissioned Magna Carta Anthem to Runnymede's parade of picnicking giants. But did you know that Britain has a rich history of commemorating history through such theatrical events? For instance, In 1907, 1959 and 1970 the people of Bury St Edmunds commemorated the Charter by re-enacting events from their town’s past, in three big historical pageants.
|The Bury pageant of 1959|
Bury’s pageants are being investigated as part of a major AHRC project, The Redress of the Past: Historical Pageants in Britain. The project looks at the part of pageants in community life and how communities expressed their identity through theatrical re-creations of their past. Members of the project team (from King’s College London, the Universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow and the Institute of Education) have been looking at twentieth-century pageants from across the UK. You can see some of the weird and wonderful photographs of these events and read commentary by the team in the Pageant of the Month feature – and you can even upload your own pageant photographs and memorabilia.
|The Bury pageant of 1907|
The project is helping to commemorate the Bury St Edmunds pageants in a special exhibition in Moyse’s Hall, Bury, which will run from 4th May 2015. On display will be rare film footage of the pageants as well as souvenirs produced for the events – visitors will also be able to have their photo taken with life-size figures of pageant characters. Meanwhile, the Redress of the Past website will host an online version of the exhibition, including behind-the-scenes stories and features. Do take a look!