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Bury St. Edmunds Pageant, The (1907)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

I: In the grounds of St Edmunds Abbey, a set has been constructed with mock-Roman columns. Roman guards and officials, along with a crowd of natives and peasants, listen to Queen Boudica as she addresses the gathering. The natives break out into a fight while some of the native girls dance. Boudica rides away on a horse and carriage.

II: St. Edmund is led by a procession to a throne, where he makes a speech. The surrounding crowd of guards raise their spears in solidarity. Bern, Edmund's Falconer, has been captured, but when presented to Edmund he is recognised and freed. Later, Bern returns, having murdered the King. When Edmund hears this news he banishes Bern, but the exile later returns with an army of Danes, who storm the site, capture St. Edmund and bind him to a pole. They execute him with their bows and arrows before beheading him, but the Danes turn on Bern and charge after him.

III: King Canute, surrounded by monks, stands at a wooden shrine where the body of St. Edmund resides. He exits before King Henry I enters and offers his crown to the shrine.

IV: King John borrows treasure from the monks. When the monks bring out a box containing precious jewellery, King John refuses to accept a receipt, instead presenting them with a silk cloth and a purse containing 'thirteenpence' in exchange. After King John exits, the monks are displeased by the unfair transaction.

V: An army of barons, headed by Robert Fitzwalter, meet at Bury. Fitzwalter reads the Magna Carta at the shrine of St. Edmund. The barons swear an oath before riding away.

VI: King Henry VI and Queen Margaret are surrounded by squires and monks. Duke Humphrey enters and condemns the treachery of the Queen. As a result, Queen Margaret and Suffolk plot to murder Duke Humphrey. When King Henry VI learns that Duke Humphrey has been murdered, he faints. The body of Humphrey is carried in on a stretcher.

VII: Mary Tudor arrives at St. Matthew's Fair, where she knights Thomas Kytson. At the fair there are celebratory dances, including Morris dancing. The crowd parts when a line of monks passes through, having been expelled from the monastery. Mary Tudor later passes through the scene. A crowd of schoolboys cheer in celebration. Queen Elizabeth arrives and sits at a throne.

Finally a long procession brings together all of the many actors in their various historical costumes.