Bradgate Drama Society : Pageants

Bradgate Drama Society were involved in 4 pageants during the 1950's and 1960's.

In 1951 (June 28 - 30) and 1952 (June 26 - 28) we put on "The Lady Jane Returns", a pageant written by Jack Ayling. It was put on in the ruins of the old Tudor mansion in Bradgate Park.

Both Pageants featured Jack Ayling, Mary Hargreaves, Basil Gimson, Keira Ayling, John Earl (Neville Ripley in 1952), Jim Adkin, Peter Rigg, Agnes Barnett, Wilfrid Squirrel, Rose Ayling, Pearl Thatcher, Hazel and Mabel Whitmore, Leslie Carrington, Donald Gimson, Chris Thorneloe (Theo Hargreaves in 1952), Thomas Tomlinson, Reg Cramp, Richard Price and Norman Faulkner, and another 65 people or more played Ladies, Gentlemen and Children of the Household, Dancers, Archers, Players in the Masque, Billmen and Huntmen. The costumes were designed by Dorothy Hirst and made by members of the Newtown Linford Women's Institute.It also featured the band of the Royal Leicestershire Regiment. Around 150 people wereinvolved in the production. Entry was 1/- (equal to 5p today).

Some of the proceeds from the 1952 pageant were used to help finance the toposcope at the top of the Hill in Bradgate Park beside Old John. The toposcope was designed by Harold Nutt, and officially unveiled on 15 July 1954. The surplus was also used to pay for repairs to the church tower in 1954, as reported in the Leicester Mercury, including the installation of the clock.

In 1976 (June 24 - 26) we put on a repeat of this pageant; Hilary Ayling (Jack Ayling's daughter) played Lady Jane. It made a surplus of £4,000 of which half went to the Village Hall fund, and half to The Diocese of Leicester, Bradgate Park Trust and 18 other charitable organisations.

In 1977 a more ambitious county-wide pageant was put on as part of the Prince of Wales Silver Jubilee appeal. There were 4 performances (23 - 25 June). The indefatigable Jack Ayling was the Pageant Master; the script was by Paul Waring and the production was by Paul Waring and Jenny Shipton. It was done in 10 Acts; one was undertaken by Bradgate Drama Society, the others were performed by 8 different Leicestershire Schools (Newbridge High School peforming 2 Acts). There were a total of around 300 performers.