Canterbury Bid

Canterbury Medieval Pageant and Family Trail 2020

It is with great sadness that the Medieval Pageant Team have decided to cancel this year’s city centre celebration on Saturday 4 July – although a virtual event will still take place, via our Facebook Event Page. 

In light of the coronavirus pandemic and in support of social distancing, this decision was necessary, as the safety of our performers, creators, visitors and residents is paramount. The Medieval Pageant and Family Trail will return on Saturday 3 July 2021, even bigger and better than ever.

We know that a lot of you will be keen to celebrate the city’s heritage and culture and we have decided that we will still proceed with a virtual celebration. So, on the 4th July from 12noon, we will be posting plenty of content with various surprises and activities which you can all get involved with.

We will be posting a few craft activities in advance of the day too – and would love you to send us your creations to display on the day. We would also love to see any of your photos or happy memories from previous pageants.

We hope that you stay safe and well, and we look forward to celebrating with you virtually this year and in person in 2021!

In the Middle Ages…

Canterbury was a lively, thriving and cosmopolitan city, just like today! One of the most important events in Canterbury’s history was the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in the Cathedral on 29th December 1170, by four knights who were seen to have acted on behalf of King Henry II. Shortly after his death miracles started to happen, and Canterbury became a major centre of pilgrimage for those seeking cures at Becket’s shrine. Many visitors stayed in the city‘s medieval ‘hospitals’ and inns. The journey of a fictional group of pilgrims was immortalised in the 14th century by Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

On 12th July 1174, Henry II came to Canterbury to perform penance for the murder. He walked barefoot through the city in sackcloth and was flogged by cathedral monks. Today, join Henry and his wife Queen Eleanor as they process through the city streets once more.

Why do we love Eleanor of Aquitaine?

Henry II’s wife, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, is to this day upheld as a feminist icon. Here are a few interesting facts about her:

  • As a teenager Eleanor was Queen of France, married to Louis VII (Henry II was her second husband)
  • She was one of the wealthiest and most powerful figures in Europe during the Middle Ages
  • Eleanor was one of very few queens to go on a crusade
  • Eleanor was imprisoned for 16 years by Henry II for her role in a revolt against him
  • Eleanor created the Court of Love. A court largely focused on courtly love and symbolic ritual; and was reported to have attracted artists and poets, and to have contributed to a flowering of culture and the arts
  • Eleanor lived to the age of 82

Keep up to date with the latest Pageant news on Ye Olde Medieval Pageant Facebook page:

The 2019 Medieval Pageant and Family Trail in review:

What a fantastic Medieval Pageant and Trail we had in 2019. We welcome a record number of audience members, trail visitors and participants, but we had glorious weather – perfect for our medieval encampment in the Westgate Garden!

2019 Pageant in numbers:

5,000   people watched the Pageant

3,500   families took part in the Medieval Trail

300      chocolate medallions were given away

266      pre-event workshop participants

250      performers took part in the parade

16        heritage locations provided medieval activities between 11.30am and 5pm

13        local businesses provided Medieval themed activities for shoppers

2          Giants (Henry, Eleanor, Nun, Knight and Lily)

2          medieval warriors on horseback

Who took part?

Schools / Universities and Community Groups

  • Canterbury Christ Church University
  • Canterbury College
  • Canterbury Primary School
  • Marlowe Youth Company
  • Priory Fields School, Dover
  • Simon Langton Music Centre (boys and girls)
  • St Martin’s School, Dover
  • St Stephen’s Junior School
  • The Spires Academy Drummers
  • University of Kent
  • Wickhambreaux Primary School


  • The Pageant Theatre Company
  • Will Wollen as Henry II
  • Kat Hardman as Eleanor
  • Music – Peter Cook
  • Director – Peter Morgan-Barnes
  • A Companye of Strangers
  • Brassies
  • Canterbury Academy Choir
  • Canterbury Tales
  • Canterbury Players
  • Conroi
  • Free Men of Blean
  • Milites De Bec
  • Rough Musicke
  • CJs Choir
  • Sensational Choir
  • St Stephen’s Church Choir
  • The Pageant trumpeters
  • Local trumpeters from Langton Brass under direction of Daniel Cano
  • Stargazers Dancer (Doro Thyssen)

Trail Venue

  • Canterbury Tales
  • Eastbridge Hospital
  • The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge
  • The Marlowe Kit
  • Ortwin Thyssen Jewellery
  • St Martin’s Church
  • St Augustine’s Abbey
  • St Dunstan’s Church
  • St Mildred’s Church
  • St Peter’s Church
  • St Paul’s Church
  • St Thomas’ Church
  • Westgate Towers
  • Wesgate Gardens
  • Rough Musicke
  • The Fremasonry Museum

Event Committee

  • Big Bash Music Company
  • Canterbury Cathedral (Cressida Williams)
  • Canterbury Christ Church University (Louise Wilkinson)
  • Canterbury Connected BID
  • Canterbury Festival
  • Canterbury Gregorian Music Society
  • Canterbury Guided Tours
  • Canterbury Punting
  • Espression Arts Café
  • Fitzgerald Jewellers
  • Friends of the Westgate Parks
  • Lily’s Bistro
  • Tiny Tim’s Tearoom
  • Whirligig
  • Whitefriars

Big Bash Team

  • Makers: Helena Leeper, Andy Evans, Bob Martin,
  • Music leaders:  Peter Cook Lucy Gove, Rough Musicke, Suzanne Wood Dani Cano
  • Writer/director: Peter Morgan Barnes
  • Big Bash Admin: Sarah MacMillan
  • Curator: Peter Cook
  • Lead Actors: Will Wollen, Kat Hardman
  • Plus other professional Actors and local amateurs brought together specially for the
  • Pageant Play.
  • Stage Manager Steve Taylor
  • Giant Lifters x 6 local people


Canterbury Medieval Pageant won the “Lasting Impressions” award at the Kent Tourism Awards Ceremony 2017

Click here to View 2019 Medieval Pageant and Trail photo album