Legendary theatrical actor-manager Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree takes a break from the West End stage and steps back in time as guest of honour at a historical pageant in East Sussex. Beerbohm Tree can be seen on the left in the opening shot; the smartly-dressed dignitaries contrast comically with the Stone Age 'villagers', who overrun Hastings' genteel boating lake in primitive coracles.
A titan of the Victorian and Edwardian stage, Beerbohm Tree was no stranger to moving pictures, filming highlights of his most famous Shakespearean roles as early as 1899 (with King John). He died in 1917 shortly after returning from the US, where he appeared in D.W. Griffith's film of Macbeth. His seven illegitimate children (on top of two daughters from his marriage to actress Helen Maud Holt) included the film director Carol Reed; actor Oliver Reed was his grandson.