David Clarke

Time spent at school: 1942 - 1949

Date passed away: 28th Nov 2014

David Clarke

The following was taken from the Surrey Ad:

GUILDFORD’S Pageant master has been remembered after he died suddenly at his Chilworth home on November 28 last year.

David Clarke was a showman and theatrical all-rounder. For 50 years he devised, wrote and produced hundreds of plays, shows and full-scale pageants involving casts of hundreds on a monumental scale.

He was born at St Pancras Hospital, near kings Cross, on October 20 1931, and in 1933 the family moved to Farncombe.

David attended Godalming Grammar School and then went to Goldsmiths Teacher Training College and the Guildford School of Art, where he met his wife, Juliet.

He first caught the pageant bug in 951 when he acted in that year’s Pageant of Farnham, and he took Part in the Guildford Coronation Pageant the following Year.

During 1954 and 1955, David did National Service in the Education Corps, where he was soon promoed to the rank of sergeant.

Following this he taught art at Camberley Grammar School, producing Plays and Gillbert and Sullivan operas and also founded the Cloister Players, who performed open air plays in Guildford’s Racks Close, at St Mary’s and many other local churches.

In June 1957 he was selected as production designer for the pageant of Guildford, which was staged in Shalford Park to celebratc 700 Years since Guildford had been granted its Royal Charter by Henry III.

With a cast of thousands, the pageant ran for 10 days and a matinee performance was attended by the Queen.

During the 1950s David directed and produced two films, Mr Guy and The Girl with the Ponytail, both of which won awards in a national competion promoted by Movie Maker magazine and shown at London’s Nationai Film Theatre.

David continued directing and producing plays for Thc Cloister Players and, in 1971, took the entire company to Cornwall’s Minack Theatre to perform Romeo and Juliet and The Importance of Being Ernest at the famous Clifftop threatre. He also directeted A Mid-summer Night’s Dream at Loseley Park, West Dean College in Sussex and at the Chichester Festival.

In 1968 David returned to pageants, devising, designing and producing The Pageant of England at Shalford Park. Around 1,000 people took part, all of them parading along Guildford High Street in full costume before the first performance. Some 100 technicians worked back-stage, 6,000 costumes were worn, 100 animals took part and it was watched by 40,000 people ovel two weeks. It was 10 years before David returned to Shalford Park with the Pageant of Monarchy.

In 1973 he was appointed artistic director of the Guildford Summer Festival, and in 1977 he organiscd Guildford Silver Jubilee Pageant. Princess Anne, the pageants patron, attended a Performance and David received the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in recognition of his efforts.

Pageants followed in Farnham, in 1988, and at Corfe Castle, Dorset, in 1991, and then the Cranleigh Millennium Pageant in 2000 and the Chilworth Gunpowder Community Play at Tillingbourne Valley in the same year.

In 1980, and again in 1984, David was engaged to direct and produce the York Mystery Plays in the city’s famous Minster. Apparerrtly, the services of a live bear was secured to take part in some of the performances.

Throughout the 1990s, The Cloister Players continued to perform in Guildford.