Grant Success: The Redress of the Past

Published: 20 May 2013

Mark Freeman and collaborators have been awarded Arts and Humanities Research Council funding of over £project examining historical pageants in modern Britain.

In collaboration with Paul Readman and Paul Vetch (King’s College London) and Angela Bartie (University of Strathclyde), Mark Freeman (Economic and Social History) has been awarded funding by the Arts and Humanities Research Council for a major research project examining historical pageants in modern Britain. The total amounts to £777,581 (FEC £971,976), to be spent over 3 years and shared across the three participating institutions.

Twentieth-century Britain was subject to regular bouts of 'pageant fever'. Communities 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. This was national costume drama on a grand scale. Over the course of the twentieth century many hundreds of events were mounted by communities and institutions, ranging from small churches and village communities to large cities such as Liverpool and Manchester.

Drawing on oral and written evidence, this project will provide an authoritative treatment of a subject that has largely escaped academic scrutiny. It will offer key insights into the role of 'heritage' in leisure activities, the interaction between local, national and imperial identities, and the character of community life. It will recover the stories that communities and institutions told about themselves. The main outputs will consist of a comprehensive database of historical pageants, a monograph envisaged as the key book on the subject, and an edited volume of essays situating British pageantry in its international context.  In addition the project team will work with a number of local history partners – including St Albans Museums, St Edmundsbury Heritage Service and Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle – to produce exhibitions and events relating to historical pageantry in specific places. 

The project website will include general commentary on the pageant movement, representative images of pageant-related ephemera, interactive maps and oral testimonies from witnesses to historical pageants. It will allow interaction between the public and the project, enabling individual users and local history societies – some of whom will be actively involved in the project – to contribute their own memories and memorabilia.

First published: 20 May 2013

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