Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire

School History and Civic Education: The Preston Guild Historical Pageant of 1922

Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire (2013), 162, (1), 159–184.


The Preston Guild celebrations were (and still are) a unique historical survival. Every twenty years the town commemorates the medieval guild merchant through the re-enactment of ancient ceremonies, trade and community processions, music and festivities, a tradition that dates back at least to the sixteenth century. In 1922, an additional feature was introduced in an historical pageant. Pageants had become very popular through the Edwardian period, as a form of invented tradition and popular history. In many respects, the Preston Guild Pageant followed familiar patterns, but it had a number of distinctive features. It was performed almost entirely by school children and led by the town’s Director of Education, A. J. Berry. Coming in the aftermath of the First World War, he hoped the pageant would have significant educational and civic value, not only for the children but for the town at large. This article examines the Guild Pageant of 1922 as a grand attempt at the public historical education of an entire town.

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Author details

Vernon, Keith