Saturday, April 14, 2012

Here comes May Day again

This time last year I published my history pamphlet May Day in South London, which as the name suggests looks at the different ways people in this part of the world have commemorated the season with May Queens, chimney sweep processions, horse parades, trade union demonstrations, anarchist protests and much more. I sold most of the print run at various events, online and in bookshops including Bookseller Crow and 56a Info Shop. There's about 15 hard copies left, so if you want one you'd better order quick (details in box to right), though you can also get an electronic version.

Amidst a flurry of activity for May Day 2011 I gave a talk on it at South East London Folklore Society (Old Kings Head, SE1) and also, briefly, at a Lewisham Anti Cuts Alliance event at the then occupied ex-Job Centre on Deptford High Street. A nice mix, as one of the themes of the text is the way that the seasonal 'green' elements of May Day have been intertwined with the radical 'red' elements over the years.

I also did the rounds of various May Day related activities, including the opening of the Brixton Windmill, which  featured a May Queen on May 2 2011:

And the Deptford Jack in the Green procession through Greenwich on May Day itself:

I also went on the Cool Tan May Day walk  from Tate Modern to Camberwell Green on May 21st 2011.

Elsewhere there were May Queens in Petts Wood, Orpington and at Hayes Common in the borough of Bromley.

At St George's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Southwark, up to 2,000 people from all over the world took part in the annual Mass for Migrants on May 2 2011- May Day also being marked as the Feast of St Joseph the Worker.

So what's happening this year on and around May Day? Let us know.


Gema said...

Looks like the Deptford Jack in the Green is happening this year, taking the Borough/City route. I'm always really saddened that it doesn't actually pass through Deptford. It would be a really nice opportunity to do something community minded and get some of the local kids involved.

Bill Ellson said...


In 2006 the Deptford Jack in the Green did go round Deptford. It was a fantastic day, starting at the Herb Garden, around St Nic's, the Master Shipwright's House, the Dog and Bell and the John Evelyn. There is a good write-up, photos and links at Baggage Reclaim

Transpontine said...

Yes that 2006 event was fantastic (also a couple of photos of it here:

There is a photo from that day in an exhibition on seasonal folklore at the Horniman at the moment.

Gema said...

I'm gutted. I moved into the flats next to St. Nicholas Church the following year - I would have had the perfect view!

I went to the Horniman last week and looked at that exhibition. It was really good! I really enjoyed viewing the various regional rituals.