Crowning glory for May Queen

Lucy Menheneott. Picture: Frances Kay
Lucy Menheneott. Picture: Frances Kay

The traditional May Day celebrations will be held Ickwell during a village gathering which dates back more than 450 years.

Ickwell May Day, on Monday, May 1, will see May Queen Lucy Menheneott, from Ickwell, handing over her crown to the incoming May Queen, Kayleigh Henegan from Upper Caldecote.

Kayleigh Henegan. Picture Darren Harbar

Kayleigh Henegan. Picture Darren Harbar

A procession of dancers will gather in the grounds of the Crown pub in Northill at 1pm and travel to Ickwell, led by the Bedford Morris Men, before the crowning of the May Queen and dancing round the maypole takes place.

As well as being presented with her crown, new May Queen Kayleigh will be handed a garland by Fiona Sutherland and a sceptre by Lucy Bryant – all decorated with flowers. She will also be given a locket by Julie Lenton, who was May Queen in 1955, as a memento of the day.

Children from the village schools in Northill and Upper Caldecote will do country dances around the Maypole, while older children from the villages demonstrate their skills at Morris dancing and plaiting ribbons round the Maypole in intricate patterns. It is then the turn of the adults, known as the Old Scholars, many of whom are parents or grandparents of the children taking part, to show their skill at plaiting the ribbons round the maypole.

Visitors can browse stalls selling local produce, sideshows, have a pony ride

and enjoy refreshments, including home-made cakes in the village hall.

If you stay to the end of the dancing in the arena, you can take part and have a dance around the maypole too.

Ancient documents show that celebrating May Day was an established custom at Ickwell as far back as 1563.

A display of archives will be held in Ickwell village hall on June 17-18, from 11am to 4pm.

The current form of celebrations, with the plaiting of ribbons and a May Queen, began in 1894 and there are pictures of Ickwell May Queens dating back to 1911. Visit www.ickwellmayday.co.uk