The People's Pageant

On 16 June 2019, the meadows of Runnymede set the stage for The People’s Pageant, a performance created by artist Estella Castle, inspired by the 1934 Runnymede Pageant.

Throughout 2019 the National Trust is inviting audiences to discover the dramatic, often hidden histories of the landscapes around them as part of the People’s Landscapes theme.

Over the past few months artist Estella Castle has been working collaboratively with local historians, community leaders and groups to assemble a range of contemporary and historic myths and stories.The People's Pageant was performed on 16 June 2019 and was inspired by and created by the stories and skills of the local community. This is part of Trust New Art, the National Trust’s programme of contemporary arts and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Runnymede The People's Pageant
" I felt the injection of humour was just right. I felt it appealed to all age groups and the story telling was very clear. It has made me want to investigate local history and stories for myself. "
- Audience member

Runnymede Explored

The People’s Pageant is part of Runnymede Explored, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, a five year project which will transform the way in which visitors experience Runnymede through new pathways, interpretation and community connections. 

Composer Alexander Ling at Runnymede

Composing the soundtrack

Composer Alexander Ling created the soundtrack for the pageant featuring sounds recorded on site at Runnymede, at the Ankerwycke Yew, in the meadows and at the St Mary's Priory. Ling has worked on a wide variety of projects and his upcoming performances include the second concert in a series dedicated to contemporary organ and piano music with organist Jack Stone; a concert of works by James Layton at Blackheath Halls; and arrangements of Alexandre-Pierre Monsigny’s opera Le Roi et le Fermier as part of artist Estella Castle’s work No Pastoral/No Shepherdess. Alexander is also the Associate Orchestrator for the Matthew Bourne production of Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet.

The Peoples Pageant rehearsals

Creating the scenes

The artwork’s director and movement director Sacha Plaige worked with our local amateur actors and performers to create five scenes depicting local histories to the site. Plaige introduced playful elements of clowning throughout her direction for each scene. This playfulness created a sense of the messiness and chaos of the ways in which the history of Runnymede and Ankerwyke has been interpreted through word of mouth and hearsay, becoming embellished or changing in meaning over time. Sacha Plaige is the co founder of the award winning Clout Theatre, she trained at the prestigious Ecole Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq and holds an MA in Movement Direction from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.