EWELME - A ROMANTIC VILLAGE ITS PAST AND PRESENT. ITS PEOPLE AND ITS HISTORY.
(EPILOGUE TO THE STORY OF EWELME.)
THE PAGEANT OF EWELME
This display of Ewelme's History in twelve scenes of Pageantry was performed by over one hundred actors, nearly all recruited from Ewelme itself. It was a communal effort and took place in Ewelme Manor grounds, the actual scene of many of the episodes. The actor's ages varied from 8 to 80, and it aroused great enthusiasm in the village, for nearly a quarter of the inhabitants were taking part or helping in some way. It was played on July 27 th and 28 th 1951, twice each day and it was gratifying that we were able to announce a financial success at the end, having made nearly £200 in profits which we gave to the funds for renovating Ewelme School and bringing it up to modern requirements, so that this beautiful old building can still serve the needs of the younger children of the Parish.
(Some years before our great effort, we had had a less ambitious Pageant on a smaller scale, when Sir Frank Benson was amongst the audience and congratulated us on our production. On each occasion of the Pageant we were favoured with fine weather.)
EWELME PAGEANT - PROGRAMME
Played at Ewelme Manor On July 27 th and 28 th 1951 at 3 and 6 o'clock
(produced by Mrs E. M. Prister Cruttwell)
GOD SAVE THE KING
Scene I Visit of Edward III and Philippa to
the Chaucer family at their Manor of
Scene II Homecoming of Ewelme men after
Agincourt, bearing the body of
Michael de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk,
Scene III The founding of God's House at Ewelme,
by William and Alice de la Pole
(Alice Chaucer) Duke and Duchess of
Suffolk, A.D. 1437.
Scene IV The widowed Duchess and the Captive
Queen. (Alice de la Pole and Margaret
Scene V Welcome to Henry VIII and Katharine
Howard after their marriage in
Scene VI How the King held a Privy Council at
Scene VII Princess Elizabeth crowned Queen of
Scene VIII Queen Elizabeth and her ladies diverted by
Scene IX Queen Elizabeth and Leicester ride to
Aldworth, “The man whom the Queen
delighted to honour ”.
Scene X Last farewell of John Hampden (on the
eve of Chalgrove Field) and Colonel
Francis Martyn of Ewelme, A.D. 1643.
Scene XI Colonel Francis Martyn, Defender of
Ewelme Church, A.D. 1643.
Scene XII Mime of the Water-Cress Men and
JOYFUL PEAL OF CHURCH BELLS
FINAL PROCESSION AND MARCH PAST
PROCEEDS WILL BE GIVEN TO EWELME SCHOOL
Today we would unfold in Pageantry
The changing scenes of full five hundred years,
Showing the Kings and great ones of the land
Who sojourned here, whose bounteous hands have raised
The Church, the School, and peaceful Cloister home.
And so we see time's changes come and go,
While still our Ewelme keeps its peaceful way
And holds the memory of its famous men
In thankfulness and praises: So, good my friends,
Do look upon our show with kindly eyes
And pardon that wherein we may fall short
In this portrayal of our storied past.
SCENE I VISIT OF EDWARD III AND PHILIPPA TO THE CHAUCER FAMILY.
Beside the Brook an ancient manor stood,
Which Thomas Chaucer sought when Parliament
Had ceased the strife of tongues, which he as
And with his wife Matilda, showed their babe,
The little Alice, all the country lore;
And here his father Geoffrey, first of all
The glorious line of England's poet sons,
Watched the bright water bickering toward the Thames
And framed these words:” In world is none more clere of hue
Its water ever freshe and newe,
That whelmeth up in waves brighte,
The mountance of three fingers height ”
Now Thomas Chaucer was of great esteem,
And John of Gaunt, the King's son, loved him well,
And visited him oft in company
Of white-haired Edward and grave Queen Philippa,
And they were gracious to the little maid,
Sweet Alice Chaucer, yet of tender age,
In whose remembrance full long abode
The vision of the stately Royal Pair.
SCENE II BURIAL OF MICHAEL DE LA POLE, EARL OF SUFFOLK, AND WELCOME HOME FROM AGINCOURT
Next Michael, Earl of Suffolk, died at Agincourt,
Own brother to our William de la Pole,
And thus his death is told in Shakespeare's words:
“Suffolk first died; and York, all haggled o'er
Doth cry aloud: ‘Tarry, dear cousin Suffolk!
My Soul shall keep thee company to Heaven; Tarry,
For mine; then fly abreast
As in this glorious and well foughten field
We kept together in our chivalry!”.
But Michael de la Pole had first ordained
That in the Church of Ewelme he should lie,
And so his faithful men-at-arms return
With their liege lord, to give him burial;
Thus priest and choir do bring him to his rest
And “de Profundis” over him is sung.
But see, a gladsome crowd now rushes in,
And sadness is forgot, as welcome cries
Resound from wives and mothers, children dear
They laugh and weep for joy and give God thanks,
To see their men returning safe from war,
And sing the famous “ Song of Agincourt ”.
SCENE III THE FOUNDING OF GOD'S HOUSE AT EWELME
The years pass by, and King succeedeth King,
While witless of the busy rumour of the world,
Alice grows up to fulness of estate.
Anon, she weds my Lord of Salisbury;
But soon the bride goes sad in widow's weeds;
Joy changes into grief, for lamentable war
Hath slain the Earl within the land of France.
But Alice is not long left comfortless,
For William de la Pole, first Duke of Suffolk,
Is knit with her in fairest bonds of love,
And Ewelme folk rejoice them in the light
Of their bright presence, when they leave the Court,
And wander ‘midst the trees, or by the brook,
Leading Lord John, their young son by the hand.
Now gracious Alice saith unto her Lord;
“Behold, the poor men of this place, when age
Lays weakness and disease upon their limbs,
Have not a place where they may lay their heads
And be at rest. Come now, and let us build
A quiet cloister for their wearied years.”
So they betook them to an architect,
Good Sir John Seynesbury, and his cunning hand
Planned the fair cloister that ye see to-day,
Therein were thirteen old men, and he as priest
To give them ghostly comfort, as from day to day
They climb the steps and worship in the Church
Which Alice builded - set upon a hill
To be the guardian of that quiet spot;
And lest the children should go ignorant,
She built a school and caused the light to shine
Of knowledge in the darkness of those days.
Therefore, all honour to the Lady Alice,
And be her name for ever celebrate,
In Ewelme as today we hallow it.
SCENE IV THE WIDOWED DUCHESS AND THE CAPTIVE QUEEN
The sound of mourning hear we now in Ewelme.
With wail, and woe, and weeping in the land.
Sisters in sorrow see the widows twain;
The Lady Alice, Margaret the Queen.
A kingdom lost, a husband, and a son
Mourns Margaret - a three-fold grief is hers;
And she indeed is stricken to the earth.
A widow, too, is Alice, for her lord,
O'ertaken by his foes, was foully slain,
E'en as he sprang into the boat, wherein
He sought to flee across the sea to France
And dwell there, free from din of party strife.
His murderers took him, fiercely fell their blows;
Till, with a rusty sword, at length they struck
His head from of f his body, in the boat.
Thus died my Lord of Suffolk unannealed,
With no man nigh to give him ghostly help
So Alice sought a quiet resting-place,
And in the silence of her Manor strives,
Herself bereft of husband and of friends,
To calm the woe of her who had been Queen.
Now, strolling players sing to calm the grief
Of Alice and the Queen, with mirthful ways
To charm a smile from countenance forlorn,
Till they, with gracious bounty are dismissed.
Anon, the Lady Alice died, and so was laid
Within the Church her lord and she had built
And over her was set a stately tomb
Of carven work, with skill and cunning wrought,
A fair presentment of herself in stone, Within the Chapel of the Blessed John
It stands, a marvel to this very day.
In widow's weeds, the garter on her wrist
(As by the King's especial grace was hers),
She lies, her hands meek folded, and around
The angel watchers guard her soul right well.
And every morn and even, as she willed,
The almsmen climb the steps and say a prayer
For the repose of her who built the Church,
The Lady Alice, Most Serene Princess.
SCENE V HENRY VIII AND KATHERINE HOWARD, WELCOMED BY ALMSMEN
England at last had healing in her wounds,
When bloody Richard fell on Bosworth field,
And Henry Tudor ruled the land in peace.
To him the lands of Ewelme Manor passed
Out of the Suffolk heritage; and at his word
A palace rose among the ancient trees!
He died and left the Sceptre to his son,
Henry the Eighth who, with his fair fifth wife,
Katherine Howard, is come to pass
At Ewelme days of jollity and mirth;
To whom the ancient bedesmen loyally
Give welcome, with their Master at their head,
And wish them joy and happy length of days.
The new Queen is a jocund wench, and took
Much pleasure in disporting with the King.
For Ewelme folks do say that in a merry hour
Fair Kate did push her Sovereign Lord, in jest,
Into the pool where he was wont to bathe,....
And ever since it bears the name “King's Pool”
In Ewelme, till this very day!
SCENE VI THE KING'S PRIVY COUNCIL AT EWELME
Though Kings and princes go on holiday,
Care and the weighty business of the state
Will search them out, and with imperious voice
Break up the hunt or interrupt love's course.
So now the Royal Privy Councillors
Come to obey the summons of the King,
To wait on him at Ewelme. - First Wolsey comes,
Swollen with pride, eyeing disdainfully
The Courtiers envious looks and mutterings.
Then kindly Crammer, who in stormy days
Sought to do right, but not offend the King;
Who at the last, amid the mocking crowd,
Passed through his fiery trial manfully.
Next, Thomas Cromwell, in whose masklike face
Cunning stood out, and ruthless love of power.
And Thomas More, whose philosophic eye
Looked for the vision of a world made whole.
And last a line of lesser men advance
With anxious looks and nervous twitching hands,
Till, at the Council's close, each man thanks God
That he is free to go forth as he came,
So violent and so headstrong was the King.
SCENE VII PRINCESS ELIZABETH CROWNED BY CHILDREN ON MAY-DAY
The countryside is bright with flowers; the birds
Sing tirelessly among the fresh, green boughs.
Seated on a swing, Elizabeth,
A maid amidst her maidens plays, for well
She loved the Palace grounds, her girlhood's home.
Down in the glade the voice of children sounds, And soon a company of boys and girls
In May-Day brightness, gaily garlanded,
Greet the Princess with singing, and entwine
A flowery chaplet for the little maid,
Who afterwards, with such magnificence.
Ruled England in the greatness of her power.
SCENE VIII ELIZABETH AND LEICESTER AT THE MANOR
After Elizabeth had safely passed
The dangers of her sister Mary's reign,
And wore the crown, she visited oft
The palace of her childhood's happy years.
Behold her now, in fulness of her power,
Which crushed the Spaniards underfoot, and raised
Her name above the sovereigns of the earth.
Now seated in the garden with her court,
Her heart is all for Leicester; when he comes
Her smile breaks out like sun, from lowering clouds
Which hide the perfect brightness of her face..,.
The Queen likes well all country dance and sport,
Diversion from the stiffness of her Court;
So, planned by Leicester, enter Country Dancers
In motley guise, to entertain her Grace,
And so the hours for all pass merrily.
SCENE IX ELIZABETH AND LEICESTER RIDE
See Gloriana and my Lord of Leicester ride
On pillion, so tells the chronicle,
To Aldworth village, perched on Streatley Down,
Where is another famous church, whose aisles
Are filled with many an ancient monument,
Whereof is another famous church, whose aisle
Of those who bodies lie beneath the stones,
Was taken by the Queen for her remembrance
Back to her Manor house in later years
Elizabeth returned, when Leicester's face
Had faded from her mind deservedly.
Here Essex strove to kindle in the Queen
Her dying love towards him, but failed
And rushed on treason and dishonoured death.
And so departed with Elizabeth
The last and greatest of that company
Of royal visitors who through the years
Made history in this quiet place of rest.
SCENE X COLONEL MARTYN'S FAREWELL
Now cruel war spreads havoc through the land,
And every hour resounds with clanking hoofs
And mailed feet, while oftentimes the night
Is wild and red with blazing villages,
Out on the church-tower ye may spy the land:
Yonder lies Oxford In the blue North West
Where Rupert and his dashing Cavaliers
Protect the King; and eastward in the woods,
Which fringe the downs, and Roundheads lie encamped
Now Colonel Martyn, of the Manor House,
Stood for the Parliament, and has as friend
John Hampden, who for single-heartedness
And nobleness of soul, shone unsurpassed.
Ye see the two bidding a last farewell,
And pledging one another in the evening hour,
Ere Hampden hurries with his men-at-arms,
Into the silent darkness of the night.
Next day from out of the fighting and the smoke Of Chalgrove field he slowly rides away.
Bowing his head upon his shattered breast;
Till, in great agony he made his way
To Thame, and on the third day passed from strife
To where beyond these voices there is peace.
SCENE XI THE DEFENCE OF THE CHURCH
Two years have passed, and strongly everywhere
The tide of War has flowed against the King,
His Armies are o'erthrown, his captains slain.
Now over all the land the Puritans
Enter the Churches, rob the sanctuaries,
And break in pieces all the carven work.
In Ewelme, at a corner of the street,
A wild-eyed preacher stirred the soldier's rage.
“ Down with the House of Baal; drive ye forth
The Popish priest and his idolatry ”.
The Rector, aged Doctor Sanderson,
Hearing the clamour, seized the massive key
And thrust it in the lock; but scarce his hand
had made secure the door, when on him rushed
A mob of soldiers. From his trembling grasp
The key is wrenched, and in their senseless rage
They well-nigh trample down God's minister.
But even as they rush upon the door,
Through which the graven angels dimly seen,
Guard the rich tomb, a figure clad in mail,
Rebukes the soldiers with authority
And drives them forth like dogs. Then tenderly
He sets the Rector on his feet, and comforts him,
And gives him back the key he strove to guard -
And leads him to the Manor's secure rest
Where Mistress Martyn serves him with her best....
Thus was our Church preserved; not a stone
Hath suffered aught from lawless violence:
And on the north side of the Chancel wall
A monument is raised to Francis Martyn's name....
And may his soul abide in changeless peace.
SCENE XII MIME OF THE WATER-CRESS MEN AND WOMEN
Of Lords and Ladies you have seen a goodly show,
And Kings and Queens with royal panoply.
Now let the common people take the stage
To end our summer evening's Pageantry....
Here is our Ewelme's industry displayed,
The good green cress that brings our village wealth.
In London Town ‘tis prized as England's best;
Here see the loaded baskets come, and bunches
Of tender cresses, fitting for a king -
“ Who'll buy our cresses,? Who'll buy? Who'll buy ?” - The old renowned, the “ Covent Garden Cry .”
Song “ The Watercress Queen ”.
While strolling out one evening
Down by the running stream,
Where water lilies were growing,
It was a lovely scene. The sight I saw was better,
A damsel like a Queen;
She was gathering watercresses
Down by the old mill stream.
Her hair hung down in tresses
As gently flowed the stream,
She was gathering watercresses
Was that fair Watercress Queen.
I asked her if she was lonely,
She answered with a smile,
“Oh! no Sir! I am not lonely,
For this is my daily toil”.
I have to be up so early,
To gather my cresses green,
She told me her name it was Martha*
Better known as the Watercress Queen.
*The Christian name here was at the choice of the singer.
N.B. Henry Winfield who was over 81 remembered singing this song in the water-cress beds, in which he had worked, (and still worked) for more than 60 years.
Members of the Winfield families who acted in the Pageant are directly descended from retainers of William and Alice de la Pole, who accompanied them to Ewelme from Wingfield in Suffolk, hence the name Wingfield or Winfield.
The Walnut Tree on which Elizabeth traditionally used to swing still stands in the Manor Grounds.
Maypole and Country Dances - Arranged by Miss D. Rowe, Wallingford.
Through many a century, in many a scene
Of joy and sorrow, peace and strife, we've shown
How life remains continuous from one
Age to the next, and how our forefathers
Knew passions like our own. In gratitude
And praise we've raised this living monument,
And humbly have we set before your eyes,
As in a vision, all the buried past,
Whose works we hold in thankful heritage,
Until we, too, pass on the torch of life....
Our Church stands firm, preserved from foemen's fire,
Restored once more by loving toil of friends
From slow decay of precious beans and walls,
To be our pride and joy as in past years:
Our Bells, rehung, give out melodious chimes
To all the countryside .... Ring out, O Bells,
While your glad peal, renewed, its message tells!
Ring loud and ring again, O happy Bells!
C.R. & E. M. CRUTTWELL.
FINALE: A joyful peal of the rehung Church Bells.
Procession and March Past.