Photographs celebrate Ambleside's May Queen tradition

Vera Newton as May Queen in 1947

Vera Newton as May Queen in 1947

First published in News
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FORMER Ambleside May Queens and attendants took a nostalgic look back at what what was once a highlight of village life.

Old photographs of the celebrations belonging to Joan Newby, who has lived in the village all her life, went on display at a ‘Crowning Glories’ coffee morning in Ambleside Library.

Vera Newton, whose sister Barbara was also a May Queen, was among those sharing memories of the great day with Marjorie Herrington (nee Frost) who was Ambleside’s very last May Queen in 1953.

“The May Queen would be about 15 years old, accompanied by two train and crown-bearers,” recalled Ms Newby, 92.

“The coronation was held every year on a Friday in May in the Ambleside Assembly Rooms.”

May Queens were not Ambleside’s only ‘crowning glory’. At one time, the village also crowned a Rose Queen to mark Queen Alexandra’s Rose Day, introduced in 1912 to celebrate the golden jubilee of the Danish consort’s arrival on British soil 50 years before. Ambleside’s May Queens were usually associated with the local Merrylegs folk dancers.

“The May Queen celebration was organised by Miss Una Blezzard, a keen member of Merrylegs who also taught the children folk dancing, and Elsie Youdell was the pianist,” said Ms Newby.

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The new Queen and attendants would be photographed in the garden at Wraysholme, Millans Park.

Old photographs of Ambleside’s Crowning Glories will be on display at Ambleside Library until mid-June, as part of Local History Month.

Ambleside Oral History archive also has interviews recounting May Queen celebrations, especially the memories of the late Mary Hallatsch (nee Boow) at www.aohg.org.uk

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