Material Memories

By Marius Kwint; Christopher Breward et al. | Go to book overview

eight
The Man Who Staged the
Empire: Remembering Frank
Lascelles in Sibford Gower,
1875–2000
Deborah S. Ryan

Frank William Thomas Charles Stevens was born on 30 July 1875 in the remote Cotswolds village of Sibford Gower, son of the village's vicar. Frank William Thomas Charles Christian Culpeper Lascelles, Lord of the Manor of Sibford Gower died aged fifty-eight on 23 May 1934 in a cheap boarding house in Brighton. Stevens and Lascelles were one and the same person. During the course of his life Lascelles changed not only his name but his whole identity. His transformation from Stevens to Lascelles encompassed numerous identities: student of Keble College, Oxford, and star of the Oxford University Dramatic Society; successful leading man on the London stage; sculptor of the great and the good;1 writer of prose and verse for periodicals;2 internationally acclaimed pageant master; self-styled Lord of the Manor of Sibford Gower. His pageants were hugely successful and helped spur a craze – known in the press as ‘pageantitis’ – which swept the whole country. He made a fortune through his work as a pageant master and spent it. He was a household name as ‘the man who staged the Empire’, but is now largely forgotten.

____________________
1
Among his subjects were the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Connaught, Earl Grey and the Aga Khan. See Who Was Who, iii, 1929–1940 (London, 1967).
2
Ibid. I have so far been unable to find any examples of Lascelles' writing.

-159-

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