Going to the London Book Fairs Week always turns up some interesting items and this year I have come back to York with a fabulous album of original photographs of the York Pageant 1909; timely because the York Mystery Plays are in progress in the City at the moment and during the 1909 Pageant there was a parade of wagons which included a parade of guild banners accompanying a wagon representing the Nativity and this event is often cited as a precursor of the current mystery play cycle which was reinvented in 1951 at the time of the Festival of Britain.
This is a fabulous album and I have been pouring over it as, it is not only interesting for the people it shows in their strange [to our eyes] costumes, but for the buildings and gardens it shows that were pressed into service as the backdrop of the scenes acted out then.
It comprises 58 photographs, the first two bearing the signature of Louis Napoleon Parker looking very proud [Dramatist and author of the York Pageant] The photographs are fine matt platinum prints mostly by H. Lane Smith + Debenham and Co., York. It depicts the scenes of the Pageant and the key actors and actresses. The setting was the Museum Gardens and St Mary’s Abbey, The Kings Manor and St Leonard’s Hospital all of which were backdrops for variant scenes. There are further photographs of the cast in the main courtyard of the Kings Manor. Photographs vary in size between 10×8 inches and 6 x 4 inches.
The album itself is supported by a very useful contemporary postcard album: 45 sepia photographs of the pageant and participants which are very helpful in interpreting the larger format photographs. These post cards turn up now and then but rarely together.
Of course it is for sale so if you are interested let me know. If you are in York call by and have a look for yourself.