EVEN though it rained hard for much of the day, and a chill wind blew, over 2,000 people went along to Connaught Park for the spectacular Dover Castle Pageant, on Bank Holiday Monday.
What cheered the visitors was the sheer enthusiasm of those who donned costumes, and the scores of stallholders many of them working for charity - who simply ignored the gloomy weather.
Those who took part in the costume parade early in the day missed the really bad weather.
But the 70 young past and present pupils of St Mary's Church of England Primary School, Dover, took the brunt of the cold as they played out their Domesday Book story before a delighted audience - and in front of a BBC TV film crew. The children told of William the Conqueror's invasion and how he set about logging all in his kingdom. They used a combination of song, dance, pictures and mime and commentary, under the direction of teacher Mrs Vicky Brown. It was all recorded by the BBC's education section for use in a programme this September about how schools up and down the country have marked the 900th anniversary of the Domesday Book.
Earlier the Mayor of Dover, Councillor Jim Truelove, and Mr David Wise, Ferryline manager of Sealink British Ferries, and their wives, judged the costume parade.
Best dressed man was a Roman Tribune, alias 4O-year- old John Willson, of Newlands, Whitfield, who was accompanied by his wife Barbara, a Roman matron.With them was their eight year-old daughter Elizabeth, a Whitfield Primary School pupil, who depicted Elizabeth I. John and Barbara made their own costumes and Wendy Williams, who works for the Roman Painted House at Dover, made Elizabeth's. Wendy also did the pageant programme. John is deputy director of the Kent Archaelogical Rescue Unit, and it was the hard work and determination of the unit which ensured the preservation of the Roman Painted House, now a big tourist attraction in Dover.
Best dressed lady was Miss Joy Thwaytes, as a 17th century fishwife. Miss. Thwaytes comes from London and has relatives in Dover. Best group was the Cavaliers - Wendy and Peter Irving, of Castle mount Road, Dover, along with their children and friends.
The parade was headed by postboy, 11-year-old Mark Brennan, on pony Gem, led by Mark's father John, of Clarendon Road, Dover. And ahead of the costume parade was the Pipe and Drum Band of the Royal Irish Rangers, who got a great hand, as did the Duke of York's RM School Band later on.
Soon after the pageant gates had opened the Royal Mail Coach arrived to celebrate the first mail coach service in 1786.
In the chariot races, there were two teams representing Sealink ships, the Drake Fellowship, Dover Rugby Club, Dover YMCA, and Castle Venture Scouts.
The Lindsay Squires School of Dancing from Dover and the Ian Shawcross Jazz Band recaptured the spirit of the roaring 1920's, while the Glen Miller Sound evoked the 1940's.
12 groups of majorettes from East Kent competed against each other.
Founder of Dover Road Runners, Bryn Thomas, was chased by children in hare and hounds races and hundreds of Dover Express balloons were given away free to children, and adults too.
The time when Henry VIII passed through Dover to the field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520 entertained by maypole and morris dancers, was recreated with Ray Mannall,
of Westbury Crescent, Dover, as Henry.
It was truly a day when Dover's wealth of history and bright hopes for the future took centre stage.
Prizes for colouring
THERE were some bright and original entries for our colouring competition, run in conjunction with Dover Pageant. Eventual winners were six-year- old Christopher Brown, of Knights Way, Dover, and Claire Dowrie (8), of Clarendon Road, Dover.
Each wins £10 of prizes.