General English


  • Originally, a cart that served as a movable stage for the presentationof medieval religious dramas. The lower half of the wagon usuallyserved as a dressing room. In the Tudor and Elizabethan period theterm was applied to both the wood or canvas stages used for masquesand the permanent stages developed for royal visits or ceremonies.

    The modern sense of the word developed by association. Duringthe later medieval period it came to be applied to a secular festivityorganized by a town guild and consisting of a procession of decoratedcarts. London's prime surviving example is the Lord Mayor's Show,in which the Lord Mayor's horse-drawn carriage is accompanied by aprocession of vehicles decorated to illustrate various themes.

    In the early 1900s open-air patriotic and civic festivalsknown as pageants became popular in both Britain and America. Thesehistorical celebrations were usually performed by local townspeopledirected by professionals. Some theaters also presented pageants depictingtheir own histories, such as the 1918 Pageant of Drury Lane.