Press photos of the 1967 pageant were on display

By Harry Mottram: There was standing room only for the Axbridge Pageant Day of Photography and Film in Axbridge Town Hall this month. Held on Saturday 14th January, 2022, a series of events unfolded throughout the day beginning with an exhibition of photographs and original items such as the script for the drama from 1967.

George Tyte had a display of beautiful photographs he had taken of the last pageant while the official photographers of Adam Clutterbuck, William King, Andy Corp, Elaine Turner and Barry Cawston decorated the hall with some fabulous images which have come to define the 2022 event.

Every seat was taken for the film and Q&A

Programmes and DVDs of the pageant were also on sale along with a calendar produced by the photographers which has raised cash for the Cheddar Food Bank.

On a TV in the hall there was a film of the Axbridge Pageant 2022 showing on a loop all day. It was the acclaimed film made by Kevin Redpath showing the scenes acted out in the town square in August.

Then at 2pm there was the Somerset Premiere of the Windrose Trust film “Restaging the Past – the Story of Historical Pageants”, which included footage and interviews from the 2022 Axbridge Pageant. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the film apart from the long history of pageants was the sheer scale of some of them with huge crowds at Sherbourne – the first known one – but also in Carlisle. Plus there was footage of Axbridge’s Pageant – the last remaining regular pageant.

From left: Mark Freeman, Pauline Ham, Jennifer Duke, John Bailey, Paul Readman, Trevor Bailey and James Harrison

The film was followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers Trevor Bailey and leading Axbridge Pageant participants including the artistic director John Bailey and chairman Phil Saunders. Academics Mark Freeman of UCL and Paul Readman of King’s College also spoke giving some of the background and context to the research project Redress of the Past.

There was an exhibition by photographers Adam Clutterbuck, William King, Andy Corp, Elaine Turner and Barry Cawston

Also present was the Mayor of Axbridge Pauline Ham and the High Sheriff of Somerset Jennifer Duke. She said: “It was a wonderful record of pageants and also the one here in Axbridge which I was privileged to have been invited to. It was a wonderful afternoon especially following Covid and what it had done to communities. To see Axbridge come together to create such a brilliant spectacle. The film also showed how important memories are – with so many in the film saying being part of a pageant was one the highlights of their life. I’m sure it will be the same for people in Axbridge.”

Axbridge Pageant will next take place on Saturday-Monday, August 24-26th, 2030, at 3pm.

More details will emerge on the Facebook page Friends of Axbridge Pageant 2030 and on a new website soon.

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