Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May Queens

The crowning of the May Queen in the London area is an ancient custom that goes back at least as far as.... er... the Victorians. Actually, there were May Kings and Queens before that but the practice seems to have died out until John Ruskin and others revived it as part of an attempt to recreate a romantic vision of Merrie England as a counter-point to the urban reality of slums and industrialism. In the process the figure of the May King was largely squeezed out and the age of the May Queen was lowered, typically being a young girl rather than a young woman.

I'm not aware of any 2009 May Queens in inner South East London (correct me if I'm wrong), you have to go further out to the suburbs to find them. In Wallington this year, 'outgoing May Queen Zoe Bird helped crown the new Queen Rhianna Deonarain and her prince Lisa Bird. Meanwhile in Sutton Katie Staniford was crowned May Queen and was star of a procession lead by a piper, which began at the Salvation Army offices, went up Throwley Way and back down the High Street'.

There was also a May Fair and May Queen procession in Petts Wood - where this year's May Queen was crowned in April. Elsewhere at Hayes in the Borough of Bromley 'A trio of May queens were handed their crowns during a ceremony signalling the start of spring. Bethany Porter, 10, became queen of Hayes Village, 12-year-old Rosie Bridger was crowned queen of Hayes and Chloe Martin, 11, became queen of Hayes Common at a ceremony on April 11. The queens will now take part in the London May Queen parade on Hayes Common and the Hayes Village Fair later this year'.

Over west, Richmond has been having a May Fair since 1970, complete with 'live music, maypole and morris dancers, a tight rope artist, comedian and... the yearly crowning of the May Queen'.

1 comment:

spincat said...

I saw a May Queen procession right down Bromley High street once - this was quite a few years back, as Allders was still open, I saw it from a window in the store