Putting on a Pageant 1578


Putting on a Pageant 1578: Entertaining Queen Elizabeth I in Norwich  is a new primary school literacy support programme which draws upon research conducted for the ‘Accessing the Records of Early English Drama in Norwich, 1540-1642’ research project led by Prof. Matthew Woodcock of the School of Literature, Drama & Creative Writing at UEA. The project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and delivered in partnership with the Forum Trust, Norwich.

The Programme

This 12-week programme focuses on the extraordinary visit by Queen Elizabeth I to Norwich in August 1578, an occasion of colourful city-wide pageantry, festivity, and entertainments of many kinds. The methodology used in the PoP programme is a blended approach of Pie Corbett’s Talk for Writing with immersive storytelling in a method termed ‘Structured Stories through Immersive Adventures’. This approach makes use of story maps, drama techniques, movement, object handling, and craft to stimulate imagination, confidence and active participation. It includes expert-led, in-class sessions, a full set of aims, objectives, lesson plans, and lots of free resources and support throughout the 12 weeks. The programme will act as a springboard for student story sharing and creation, recollection and storytelling across Primary Key Stages.

Explore More at Home

To truly embed the PoP programme approach, we ask that parents and carers of your pupils become involved with  ‘Explore More at Home’ which will involve short, simple activities as ‘homework’ as well as 3 exciting parent/carer and child ‘half day’ sessions led by the PoP team of experts. By fostering a joint school-home project there will be an increased use of the pupil’s imagination, confidence and self-esteem, language development and improved parent/child/school interaction.

An Elizabethan Progress

Curious Spark is currently developing a large scale, multi-partner East Anglian event based on Queen Elizabeth I’s East of England Progress in 1578. The Queen travelled for 11 weeks through 5 counties on a historic and unique journey from Greenwich Norwich and back. But why?

Royal progresses were a spectacularly successful exercise in image-making as well as establishing and maintaining popularity and governance. Likewise, for those villages, towns and cities visited by the royal household, it put them on the map. Each place the Queen stopped became a stage, with her as chief spectator and spectacle, the players, her citizens.

In Norwich, the second largest city in England in 1578, preparations for the Royal Pageant began in June. Major work was undertaken to clean up and tidy the city and prepare high-quality entertainment and hospitality. Court impresario, Thomas Churchyard was sent to the city in July to organise some of the entertainments supported by writers Bernard Garter and Henry Goldingham.

Similar to Norwich Festivals today, these Elizabethan festivities were only achieved through the commitment, skills and hard work of Norwich people. And, similar to Norwich Festivals today, there was creative and cultural investment; jobs were created and there was support for local artistic talent. Cultural and economic diversity was not only acknowledged during the Queen’s 1578 visit but celebrated. As she entered through St Stephen’s Gate a spectacular pageant by the ‘Strangers’, highly skilled textile workers from the low countries and now Norwich citizens, demonstrated their craft and products. There was further international engagement with French and Spanish royal ambassadors in tow along with the vast royal household which needed to ensure the Queen remained counselled and her stay in Norwich was up to standard and lively. With children dressed elaborately delivering oratories, officers of the city presenting gifts and speeches the city came alive with drama, music and feasting. Norwich had become a cultural and creative destination!

Putting on a Pageant 2024

In 2022 the Norfolk and Norwich Festival will celebrate its 250th anniversary and in 2024 we celebrate the opening of the Maddermarket Theatre by Nugent Monck who produced so many of Norwich and Norfolk’s Elizabethan and Jacobean inspired plays, pageants and masques in the first half of the 20th century. To honour the city’s excellence in putting on so many wonderful festivities, this project will capture the essence of ‘placemaking’ which emerged during the 1578 royal progress through East Anglia. Beginning in Greenwich and following the Queen’s progress route the project will visit and co-curate innovative heritage and cultural events with local communities in the places and spaces where Queen Elizabeth I stopped, held court and was entertained. Community performances, digitally led storytelling and exhibitions would take place. This would then culminate in Norwich between 14-22 August 2024 with a week of city-based events inspired by the Queen’s pageants and masques.

Place-making will be at the heart of Putting on a Pageant 2022; increasing skills based initiatives and cultivating interests and investments in heritage, arts and culture to drive aspiration and growth in our region.

What is happening now?

In 2019 Curious Spark is working with key organisations in Norwich and throughout East Anglia to create a steering group, to co-curate this ambitious project and secure development funding.


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Find out more about Putting on Pageant 2022