Barwick-in-Elmet maypole

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The site in Yorkshire of what was previously claimed to be the tallest maypole in the country (86 feet), but Ansty in Wiltshire erected a new one (96 feet) in 1982. Every three years the maypole is lowered and removed from its central village site and carried to a nearby field for refurbishment. The stripes are repainted, and the garlands made of cloth rosettes, ribbons, and artificial flowers are repaired or replaced. The villagers elect three Polemen who take responsibility for this work and for the re-erection of the pole. On Spring Bank Holiday (previously Whit Tuesday), after an afternoon of games and music, the maypole is carried in procession back through the village and put back where it belongs. Traditionally, a young man would climb up the pole to release the ropes and spin the weather vane with a flourish, but modern-day safety and insurance fears have made this less acceptable.

Dalesman 47 (Jan. 1986), 849–50;58 (Apr. 1996), 51–2;Shuel, 1985: 34;Kightly, 1986: 162;Sykes, 1977: 58–9.

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