VILLAGERS in Dorchester-on-Thames made a journey 4,000 years back in time in June 1963.

A cast of some 200 residents appeared in the Pageant of Dorchester – the climax to that year's Dorchester Abbey Festival.

Acted and mimed on a small, bare stage at the west end of the abbey, the pageant was performed in 20 episodes on a background of a grey curtain and a white wall.

It began with a representation of life in a 2,000 BC Stone Age settlement known to have existed near Dorchester and continued to 1961 and the dedication of Berinsfield Parish Church.

The pageant showed life in the village when it was a Celtic stronghold, a Roman garrison, a Roman-Saxon city, a a community of Puritans and in the 18th century.

It also showed the arrival of St Birinus in AD 634, the removal of the Church See to Lincoln several centuries later, the purchase and gift to the parish of the abbey in 1554, the foundation of Dorchester Free Grammar School in 1652 and more recently in 1878, the founding of the Ss Peter and Paul's Theological College.