Blickling marks its Anne Boleyn links

Blickling Hall in Norfolk will this year be marking the centenary of the pageant play The Masque of Anne Boleyn with an exhibition at the National Trust property.

Blickling Hall in Norfolk will this year be marking the centenary of the pageant play The Masque of Anne Boleyn with an exhibition at the National Trust property.

Specifically written to be staged at Blickling Hall (the claimed birthplace of Anne Boleyn), The Masque of Anne Boleyn was the work of Walter Nugent Monck, an English Theatre Director and founder of the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich. First performed in 1909, such was the success of his first production that it was revived twice, in the summer of 1925 and then again in 1938.

Masques were extremely popular amongst the nobility during the Tudor and Jacobean periods, it was pleasing to see the number in attendance at the pageants held at Blickling. They were designed to privately entertain a court, such as King Henry VIII, but there were numerous public versions, which were referred to as pageants.

They involved music, dancing, singing and acting and everyone that took part was dressed in lavish and colourful costumes. They were fictional tales based on real historical characters and when the masque ended, dancing would be open to all. Her Majesty Queen Mary was patron of the pageant at Blickling and even attended one of the 1938 performances, which had a cast of over 300 people.


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All three pageants that were held at Blickling were beneficial to the community. In 1909, the money raised went towards the repair of Erpingham Church, in 1925 it was to support Aylsham Schools and finally in 1938 the money raised enabled the roof of Aylsham parish church to be repaired.

This year's exhibition marks the 100th anniversary of the first pageant to take place at the Hall. It was the idea of National Trust volunteer Derek Lyons, who with thanks to the assistance of Aylsham Town Council and a number of Aylsham residents; has been able to assist staff at Blickling Hall put this centenary exhibition together. A significant number of items on display have been donated by the grandson of local landowner Colonel Tom Purdy who initiated the 1938 pageant, after they were found in his attic.

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Visitors to the exhibition will be able to see original pageant programmes, scripts, as well as numerous black and white photographs, amongst other items. Four of the costumes that would have been worn to the pageants will also be on display. The exhibition is open to visitors until the end of August.

For more information regarding opening times visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blickling

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For further press information please contact Jemma Finch on 01284 747571 or e-mail jemma.finch@nationaltrust.org.uk

Photo credits: Courtesy of Aylsham Town Council

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