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The Fernhurst Society

Oral history interviews: festivals and celebrations

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Peggy Allen | Paul Heath

Peggy Allen

Yes, well the Heralds start off, they blow their trumpets and they announce the new May Queen. Then she comes in and she says to the old May Queen

‘Your reign of one long year is past.
Remember this, I pray,
The goodwill and the friendship last
That crowned you Queen of May.

Before you lay your sceptre down
One thing remains to do
The new May Queen is yours to crown
As once a Queen crowned you.’

And who says that?

The past May Queen’s Maid of Honour says that. And then the May Queen takes the crown from the little crown bearer and goes up, and goes to crown the new May Queen, with which she says, says her name,  ‘On this happy day, with this fair wreath, I crown you Queen of the May.’ And then the Heralds blow their trumpets to announce that she is the new May Queen. And then St George comes into the arena and he goes up and he says her name with ‘I am her champion bold. Who doubts her right, with me must fight’ and throws his gloves down. And then the dragon enters and they have their little fight. And that’s their little bit. And then the May Queen stands up and reads off  a picture that she passes over to the old May Queen, with this verse on:

‘Once in the spring of life, Queen of the May
Tread through the summer of life, the Queen’s highway
On through the fall of life cheerily sing
Knowing the winter of life leads back to spring.’

And she hands the picture back to the old May Queen and then she says ‘Let the Revels begin.’ And that’s the end of their little piece.

And then it’s the pageant of..

Well the maypole dancing starts after that.

That sounds just lovely. George and the dragon, how are they chosen?

The school chooses them.

Is that much sought after?

I think all the boys want to be St George or the dragon.

 

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Paul Heath

Were you involved in Maydays at the school?

Not with the school, no.  I was involved in Mayday via the scouts or cubs at the time.  It used to be held in the old vicarage, behind the church, in the gardens of the old vicarage. We, as cubs, used to get dragged along, when they had a traditional George and the Dragon fight in front of the May Queen, where the Dragon would do his death scene, and as soon as he was dead, we would rush in and drag him off. About six of us would drag him off, in his regalia and everything. There was quite a cheer from the crowd. And I believe they still do it today.  They did last time I heard.

 

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The Fernhurst Oral History Project was supported by the Local Heritage Initiative. The Local Heritage Initiative was developed by the Countryside Agency and was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Nationwide Building Society.

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