Lustleigh May Day – A History

PLEASE NOTE – THIS EXHIBITION IS A WORK IN PROGRESS AND WE ARE PREPARING MORE INFO WHICH WILL BE ADDED SHORTLY

What we know now as the traditional May Day celebration in England can be traced back to Roman times and the festival of Flora, the goddess of fruit and flowers.

During the middle ages, it was customary to go “a-maying”early in the morning to collect fresh flowers with which to crown the “fairest maiden in the village”

The origins of the ‘Maypole’may be linked to one old tradition that used to mark the end of the winter and celebrate the coming of spring. This involved cutting down a young tree, which was then stuck into the ground. Villagers would then dance around it, in the hope of a good crop that summer.

Lustleigh probably held its own ceremony during these times but it lapsed until Cecil Torr, who lived in Wreyland, revived it in its present form. Torr wrote:

“ There is a May Day festival here, for which I am responsible. There used to be dancing around the Maypole at the Flower Show and other festivals but none upon May Day itself: and I put an end to that anomaly“

THE FIRST TWO LUSTLEIGH MAY QUEENS

Capture
Mabel Bunclarke – 1905
olive
Olive Chudley – 1906

When the ceremony was resurrected by Cecil Torr, the May Queen was crowned on a rock on the hill above Wreyland  at Long Tor Farm (now on private land).

long tor

A few years ago the old rock was cleaned to reveal the names of the May Queens of Lustleigh from 1905 to 1940

old rock

Muriel Brimblecombe – 1913 at Long Tor
Muriel Brimblecombe – 1913 at Long Tor
Winnifred Horrell – 1930 (Front row, third from Right is Joan Bourne, who married Eddie Elllis and ran The Dairy for many years)
Winnifred Horrell – 1930, on the church steps. (Front row, third from Right is Joan Bourne, who married Eddie Elllis and ran The Dairy for many years)

We hope for good weather on May Day, however it doesn’t always turn out quite how we would like it…..

phyllis wills
This particularly wet May Day was in 1927, the May Queen was Phyllis Wills and this photo was taken in the school playground

rainy 2rainy 1Two wet May Day Festivals, at Long Tor Farm, dates unknown

Two 1930’s May Days….

edna and eilleeen
May Queen’s Attendants 1935. Two of these girls were Lustleigh May Queens later on. That year, Barbara Weeks was the May Queen. Pictured here are – Eileen Dray (Queen in 1937), Rhona Lake, Dorothy Allin, Edna Dray (Queen in 1939) and Maureen Dray.
veronica
1936 – The parade heads down the hill past what is now Primrose Tearooms, with Veronica Yeoman as the May Queen. Note the many trees on the village green.

This lovely handwritten programme is from 1939 when Edna Dray was May Queen

1939 prog

Before the school closed in 1963, the children congregated in the playground before the parade commenced

janet horrell 1957
Janet Horrell in 1957
iona jones 1960
Iona Jones – 1960

 

Although the May Day festival continued throughout WWI, the ceremony lapsed after the start of WWII, the last one taking place in 1940.

It was not until 1954 when it restarted, in a new location Town Orchard, where there was a suitable rock for the crowning ceremony. Newspaper reports at the time tell  of large amounts of granite being blasted out of the ground in order to create a flat space for the Maypole dancing to take place.

gillian 1954
Gillian Williams and her attendants on the new May Rock in Town Orchard – 1954
nissen
May Day 1958 and Helen Beard is May Queen. If you look behind the May Rock you can see an old WWII Nissen Hut (rather spoiling a lovely view!)
wendy 1971
Wendy Harvey – 1971
mabel and wendy 71
Two May Queens 66 years apart! Presscutting from 1971, Mabel Bunclarke (May Queen 1905 not as the text states 1904) meets Wendy Harvey

If you are looking for a Lustleigh May Queen, enter her name into the search box: 

Lustleigh May Queens

YearNAME
1905MABEL BUNCLARKE
1906OLIVE CHUDLEY
1907ANNIE MENHENNET
1908AMY WYATT
1909FLORRIE VALANCE
1910ETHEL SQUIRES
1911ALICE HOWARD
1912DOROTHY MOTTON
1913MURIEL BRIMBLECOMBE
1914JANIE LAKE
1915GUINEVERE MORECOMBE
1916IRENE CROCKFORD
1917MAY YEOMAN
1918GERTRUDE PARKER
1919GLADYS WALDRON
1920VERA HILL
1921MAY WONNACOTT
1922PHYLLIS YEOMAN
1923FLORRIE AGGETT
1924JOSEPHINE WILSON
1925ROMOLA WILLS
1926DOLLY WHITE
1927PHYLLIS WILLS
1928KATHLEEN COOPER
1929MARY MARSHALL
1930WINIFRED HORRELL
1931BRENDA OSBORNE
1932MAY CLARKE
1933WINIFRED OLDING
1934NELLIE WILLS
1935BARBARA WEEKS
1936VERONICA YEOMAN
1937EILEEN DRAY
1938PHYLLIS WILLS
1939EDNA DRAY
1940ROSIE OLDING
1941 -1953 NO CEREMONY
1954GILLIAN WILLIAMS
1955MYRA BROCK
1956PATRICIA POWELL
1957JANET HORRELL
1958HELEN BEARD
1959CHRISTINE MOORE
1960IONA JONES
1961JAYNE NELSON
1962JENNIFER PERRY
1963RUTH MATTHEWS
1964CAROLA WOODGER
1965JAQUELINE KENNETT
1966PATRICIA JOHNSON
1967ANGELA WOODGER
1968VIVIENNE JENKIN
1969SUZANNE BEAUMONT
1970JANE AGGETT
1971WENDY HARVEY
1972JULIE GERMON
1973DIANE AGGETT
1974CAROLINE WILLIAMS
1975ANNETTE STEPHENS
1976CATHERINE BEAUMONT
1977DEBBIE SEABROOK
1978HEATHER WRIGHT
1979JULIE OSBORNE
1980SUSAN AGGETT
1981REBECCA FRENCH
1982JEANETTE PALMER
1983LISA ROWE
1984DEBBIE GOODFELLOW
1985SARAH JANE LILLEY
1986CAROLYN TAPSON
1987SALLY ANN LILLEY
1988REBECCA MERRIOTT
1989KIM HOPWOOD
1990CORALIE OLVER
1991ABIGAIL MABEY
1992KATIE JACOBY
1993SIMONE OLVER
1994LISA ROBERTS
1995NATALIE DAVIS
1996REBECCA DREWETT
1997LAURA DALE
1998LOUISE BAUDOUY
1999DAISY BEARE
2000EMMA WILLS
2001JOELY BADGER
2002HARRIET KNOWLES
2003LUCY JAMES
2004ANNIE REDDAWAY
2005CHLOE MAY WRIGHT
2006ANNA BELL
2007JESSICA BEARE
2008ALICE JAMES
2009KIRSTY HEATHER
2010BRYONY MAY BELL
2011LAUREN HEATHER
2012CELIA COLEMAN
2013ABIGAIL PELLING
2014HARMONY BIDDER
2015ABIGAIL CARROLL
2016TALIA SULLIVAN
2017AMY JAGGS
Mays Queens since 1905 through to 2015