Keeping History Alive and Well
The Chester Mystery Plays form a spectacular festival presented mainly by members of the local community under professional direction. This rare Chester production has become a much anticipated highlight in the British arts calendar, attracting people from all over the world. One of the largest community events in the UK, hundreds of enthusiasts of all ages from throughout the area make up the cast, crew and the support teams working in administration/marketing and front of house.
The Chester Mystery Plays are performed in Chester every five years, now in the nave of Chester Cathedral.
Mystery Plays were created all across Europe from the 13th century as a means of celebrating the stories of the Old and New Testaments for the Feast of Corpus Christi. Other famous Mystery Play "Cycles" in England were written in Coventry, York and Wakefield. The scripts, as in the case of the Chester Cycle, were often written by medieval monks. Originally performed inside the churches, from the 14th century they were produced by Crafts Guilds and performed in the open streets and market places on pageant carts ("waggons"). The mounting of the Plays in the nave of Chester Cathedral in 2013 was the first time in hundreds of years that they had been performed inside a church, and it was the first time they had ever been produced inside the cathedral nave itself. Performed by local people, both scripts and performances changed each year to remain current and have popular appeal.
The production of the Plays, so important to the local community, was suppressed during the Reformation and the last recorded performance prior to the 20th century revival was in 1575.
The Chester Mystery Plays originated in the 14th century, nearly 700 years ago...
Church services were conducted in Latin and the monks at the Abbey of St Werburgh (now Chester Cathedral) enacted stories from the Bible to help those who couldn't otherwise follow or understand. Eventually this proved too disruptive and the plays were moved outside, after which individual companies of Chester Guilds adopted them. For example, the Grocers, Bakers and Millers performed The Last Supper, and the Ironmongers undertook The Crucifixion. Twenty-three of the ancient company guilds survive in Chester today.
The Freemen and Guilds of Chester, a united group of trade companies, had been in existence for more than 100 years by then. A powerful force in the city, they protected the interests and welfare of fellow merchants and craftsmen while playing a major part in social, political and economic life. Their influence extended to organising major events, one of which became Chester Mystery Plays.
to Book TICKETS
Get the best seats for 2018!
call 01244 500959
or use the Chester Cathedral website
Performances are every evening at 7.30pm (except Sunday), with a matinée at 1pm on each Saturday
You can purchase up to a maximum of 10 tickets per order for all performances.
For groups of more than 10 please telephone the box office on 01244 500959.
A 10% discount will apply to full price tickets only.
Family Ticket: £85.00 (2 adults & 2 children)
Preview Evenings 27 & 28 June
All tickets £18.00
No concessions or group discounts apply.