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date: 07 December 2022


The Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre
Phyllis HartnollPhyllis Hartnoll, Peter FoundPeter Found

word which has over the centuries completely changed its meaning, though retaining always its connection with the idea of ‘pageantry’. In medieval times in England it was used variously to describe the ‘carts’, each one manned and decorated by a different guild, which carried the notables of the city in procession on civic occasions; the last vestige of this is the procession on Lord Mayor's Day, dating from the 13th century, which still takes place in London early in November. ‘Pageant’ was also the word applied to those fixed points within a city's walls at which an entertainment could be given to welcome important visitors. Such places were the market cross with its steps, any raised permanent structure such as a water conduit, and the space above and around the city gates, often augmented by the use of scaffolding. By extension it was then applied to the ‘pageant wagon’, a wheeled vehicle on which a scene from a religious play could be performed before an audience assembled at a fixed point before being drawn away to perform the same scene at another pre-arranged station, usually a crossroads, a market square, or other open space. These ‘pageants’ or perambulating stages, which were very popular in England during the period covered by the ... ...

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