Shalford Park

David Clarke
by Nicholas Bale

Born in London and nominally ‘a cockney’ Clarke lived all his adult life in Surrey, settling in Chilworth. From 1950 until year 2000 his was a significant cultural influence on Guildford Borough. Widely regarded as the UK’s pre-eminent Pageant Master of the late 20th century, his large scale productions, involving casts of hundreds, usually with a thousand or more costumes, along with horses, carriages and vintage vehicles, were distinguished by sweeping spectacle, drama and colour. His ‘local’ pageants were centred on Shalford Park (1968, 1977 & 1987), attracting substantial audiences but he also devised and directed large scale productions in Carlisle, Exeter, Salisbury, Winchester and the Mystery Plays in York Minster. Clarke directed his own company, The Cloister Players, in many religious and classical dramas using smaller Guildford venues - St Mary’s Church, Racks Close and Losely House Gardens – occasionally touring them.

David Clarke directs performers at Shalford Park
Advertising poster for a 1967 David Clarke pageant

For further information on David Clarke and many other notable figures in Guildford’s history see Guildford Walks where you can book onto free walking tours led by Nicholas Bale and his colleagues.

Share your thoughts

Allowed tags: <p>, <a>, <em>, <strong>, <ul>, <ol>, <li>