Kendal Maypole, Kendal, Westmorland

Maypole (destroyed):  OS Grid reference – SD 5161 9212

Archaeology & History

Long since gone, it’s existence was recorded by, amongst others, the Kendal historian Cornelius Nicholson. (1861)  He described it in relation to one of the town crosses, that was removed due to it being “an obstruction in the street.”  The maypole too, he said,

“was another incumbrance, but indispensable, according to the custom of our forefathers.  It stood in Kirkland, opposite the house of the late Thomas Reveley, Esq., and was suffered to remain till within eighty years ago.  In the time of our good Queen Katherine, who may fairly be supposed to have partaken of the amusements, countenanced by her royal consort, the original festivity of maying and morris-dancing would be here celebrated, by the annual ceremony of “maying” when, immediately after sunrise, on the 1st of May, processions, entering the town at various inlets, streamed through the streets, with music of horns and flutes; boys with their May-gads (willow-wands twined with cowslips), and girls with their “brats” full of flowers — young and old alike joining in merry laughter, and song, and the customary chorus, “We have brought the summer home.”  When the above-named ceremonies became less fashionable, the May Pole was made the rendezvous of all the milkmaids in the neighbourhood, who came and paraded round it on Easter Mondays.  On other occasions of rejoicing, afterwards, such for instance, as terminating an apprenticeship, and the like, it became customary for young men to go and dance around it.”

The author then told that this annual village ceremony was still being performed at the beginning of the 19th century, “in the assemblage of young people in the Vicar’s Fields, on Easter Tuesday.  After spending the afternoon there, they returned in procession through the streets, threading grandy needles.”

References:

  1. Nicholson, Cornelius, The Annals of Kendal, Whitaker & Co.: London 1861.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

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