Ickwell May Day

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A May celebration which has survived, probably because it has been adapted by successive generations to fit the current ideas of what May is all about. Local churchwardens’ records show that celebrations at Ickwell Green, Bedfordshire, go back, at least to 1561, when food, drink, minstrels, and morris dancers are specifically mentioned. In 1872, the village acquired a permanent maypole, donated by local squire John Audley. Also in Victorian times, villagers went gathering may blossom and left garlands on people's doorsteps early in the morning. There was a procession of mayers through the village, carrying garlands, led by a Lord and Lady and including two Moggies (two men with blackened faces, one dressed as a woman), who would sing a song at people's doors. Nowadays, there are all the elements one would expect to find at a May Day fête, including a May Queen, morris dancers, maypole dancing, and the Moggies themselves have also been revived.

Shuel, 1985: 32–3;Sykes, 1977; 80–1.

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