Maypole, Garlands and Morris Men

Rouser 2013
Rouser 2013
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The tradition of dancing to the Maypole was re-introduced in Victorian times but has sadly almost died out again.

A mention of the practice in Rottingean: ‘On the first of May I remember a Maypole being danced around. Later the children would bring round small posies, sing a little song and then violently ring your front door bell.

‘The song ran as follows: “First of May, my birthday. Give us all a ‘oliday’’

‘They were quite content with a couple of pennies.’

Courtesy of Spring and Summer Customs (Meresborough Books), the Sussex folklorist Lilian Candlin recalled that her mother, born in 1870 in Lewes, ‘went early to the Daisy Bank - a grassy slope opposite the old Fox Inn at Southerham - on the first of May to gather wild flowers.

The flowers were made into a garland which she took round to the neighbours who gave her a penny or a cake for the sight of it’.

A curious custom takes place at Piddinghoe, near Newhaven, on July 19 known as Little Edith’s Treat. When little Edith died in 1868, aged three months, her grandmother made an endowment of £100 to be expended on the baby’s birthday. This is/was celebrated by a church service followed by children’s races and tea.

Morris dancing is still going strong in East Sussex.