Yorkshire Post (28/Jun/1906) - Elizabethan Pageant at Woodsome Hall

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.


The happy thought of organising an Elizabethan village pageant and Old English merry-making at Woodsome Hall, near Huddersfield, emanated, we understand, from Lady Frances Legge ; and the fact that it all took place so successfully, yesterday, was due to the readiness with which the Earl and Countess of Dartmouth acquiesced in the proposal, as well as to the active cooperation of many willing helpers in the neighbourhood.

Woodsome is not only an excellent and well-preserved specimen of a 16th century mansion, but is one of the quaintest and oldest houses in Yorkshire, with an environment, too, that is delightfully wooded. The place came into the possession of the Earls of Dartmouth about 300 years ago, when the heiress of the then owner, Sir Arthur Kaye, married Lord Lewisham, eldest son of the first Earl. As a tribute to the past, Lady Frances Legge, yesterday, was attired in the plain black-velvet matronly Elizabethan costume of Dorothy, Lady Kaye, as, from the steps of the antique paved terrace, she spoke a printed Prologue, signed "D," which contained the following among other stanzas:—

We propose by old-world speech and dress
To bring to life the days of good Queen Bess.
The good old times have gone, excuse the jest:
The good is bettered — we again are Bess-ed.

As regards the number, appropriateness, and variety of the costumes worn by the participants in the revels, the proposal here indicated was especially well realised. The procession at the opening ceremony abundantly showed that. Accompanying Lady Frances were her cousin, Mr. Francis Legge, and Mr. Warren Peacock, each sumptuously attired as a lord of the period. Even more gorgeous was the Sir Walter Raleigh of Mr. R.S. Crump, head master of the Almondbury Grammar School, who had planned hobby horse rides and tilts and lance encounters by many of his pupils. And equally effective was the Earl of Essex garb worn by Mr. R.D. Watson, who acted as Master of the Ceremonies. Then there were the Amy Robsart costume worn by Miss Sykes, of Fenay Lodge, a dream of rich dark crimson velvet and quilted satin, with pearl tiara, high lace collar, and other dainty finery. The Duchess of Portland of Mrs. Norman Brooke was another wondrous creation ; indeed, whether representing noble personages or peasantry, the costumes were all typical of the Elizabethan period, charming in their varied shades of colour and lace collar and head-dress effects, and, in the mass, remarkably picturesque. Heralds, beefeaters, village maidens crowned by chaplets of flowers, young lancers and hobby-hone riders, jesters, foresters, and the like jostled together, played their parts, and made it seem, with the ancient house in the background, as though old times had come again.

By good fortune the weather was beautifully fine, and the old country dances, started to some of Edward German's characteristic music, and arranged by Miss K. Lawton and Mrs. Dyson, went merrily on the lawn. In the hall itself there were at intervals concerts, at which the Woodsome Choral Society sang old English madrigals, more or less fitting songs being also rendered by Mdme. Bertha Moore, Mrs. T. Dyson, Mr. C. Lunn. and Mr. R. Meiggs. Tea was served in a large marquee, under the direction of Mrs. Lambourne, Miss Atkinson, Mr. Hallas, and Mrs. Mellor ; Mrs. Norman Brooke presided at a fruit and flower stall ; while Mrs. J. Roberts and Mrs. J.G. Wilson saw after the dispensing of strawberries and cream and ices.

"But what is it all for?" some of the very large crowd of visitors asked themselves, when invited to purchase. By some inadvertence the benevolent object of the undertaking had not been stated on the programme. It was to raise funds to help the Girls' Friendly Society Homes, and, in fact, numbers of the young women of that institute were present in costumes, making themselves generally useful.