The Collingham May Fair (May 2)

The Collingham May Fair has been going for years – long before we moved to this area 20 years ago. For many years it was held in the area of the village green, and since the green itself is so small, this involved the road being closed to traffic for the day. The ‘green’ is just beyond the houses to the right of the road in the second picture below:

For the past few years the Fair has been on Collingham Cricket Ground – a nice large area for all the stalls and activities. Yesterday, May Ist, Nick and I went along to share in the fun. On Sunday I wrote a general post about May Day celebrations in the UK, so now I want to share a few photos from a typical village May Fair.

I used this poster advertising the list of events for this year’s show on my last post, but here it is again:


We arrived at the cricket ground at 12.15 pm, so not too many people were there. We walked around, looking at and photographing the various stalls while more people filed in. As you can see from these distant shots, the stalls were around the edge of the ground:

These are close-up versions of various stalls and activities on offer:

At one o’ clock we had the crowning of the May Queen. Traditionally the young woman chosen would have been one eligible for marriage, which in the past would have been a girl of perhaps fourteen upwards. Today’s May Queen was  a cute little girl of eight. I suppose it makes sense, considering that it’s the primary schools who usually organise both the maypole dancing and crowning of the May Queen nowadays. Anyway, here is a photo of the ‘Queen’ and her little attendants as they watched the Morris dancers:

Straight after the crowning of the May Queen came the Morris dancing, performed by the same troop who were here last year – Rattlejag Morris. As it says on their website, they are a mixed troop, formed in 2002, who use recently collected material from East Yorkshire as well as their own material from local research into dancing in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.Their aim is to revive and develop their own locally based dance tradition. The troop performs broom dances, bacca pipe dances and sword dances, as well as many others unique to their group, and are continually developing new dances. On this occasion we didn’t video anything, but here are a few photos…

…  and this is one of  Rattlejag’s several videos from other events, this one uploaded in 2014. It shows one of the dances the troop performed yesterday in Collingham. It’s called The Rufford Poachers and is based on real events. As it says on the YouTube site, it is a dance “to record the events in Rufford Park in 1851,when the Rufford Park gamekeepers had a battle with the local poachers, resulting in the death on a gamekeeper.”

In the video, the four dancers in the middle represent the gamekeepers and the four outer ones are the attacking poachers.

Rattlejag Morris performed several dances, including one with swords, and their routine was thoroughly entertaining.

Unfortunately, we were unable to stay more than a couple of hours as we were needed elsewhere, so we didn’t get to see the Nottingham Ukulele Orchestra or the Collingham Singers. We’ve seen the Singers on several occasions  so we weren’t too bothered about that. All in all it was a pleasant visit and the weather wasn’t too bad at all. Although it was a bit too windy for my liking, at least it didn’t rain. There were some interesting exhibits and demonstrations – the wattle and daub fence making and the pizza making particularly so. The van with the pizza oven inside was something different and I’ve never seen so many items of crockery smashed to bits as on the plate smashing stall! In my experience, it’s usually coconuts we aim for. 🙂

Before we left we headed over to the most important place on the site…the ice cream van. How could we leave without having a Mr Whippy?

About milliethom

I am a reader and writer of historical fiction with a keen interest in the Earth's history and all it involves, both physically and socially. I like nothing better than to be outdoors, especially in faraway places, and baking is something I do when my eyes need respite from my computer screen.
This entry was posted in Month by Month and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to The Collingham May Fair (May 2)

  1. Michael says:

    Looks like it was a great day millie, unfortunately down here with our limited history we don’t have events such as you have chronicled. Recently we had ANZAC Day, our commemoration of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915, a thoroughly useless battle in which hundreds of young men were shot and killed. The day, is started with a dawn service at cenotaphs around the country, in some places, the capital cities in particular, there are marches all of which lead to local watering holes where there is much drinking and the annual and now almost traditional game of two up.

    • milliethom says:

      I’ve read several posts about Anzac Day, Michael, and found them so interesting, as well as heart-breaking. Everything about WW1 regarding the disregard for soldiers’ lives seems unbelievable to us today. I can understand the need to commemorate that fateful day and the loss of so many lives. The celebrations after the service would be just the same here – local ‘watering holes’ can be found everywhere! I must admit ‘two up’ isn’t played here – I only know about it from TV series set in Australia.

  2. leggypeggy says:

    What a great day. Our daughters used to do Maypole dancing.

    • leggypeggy says:

      and I meant to add that a friend of ours convinced his daughter that when Mr Whippy played music, it meant he was out of ice cream.

      • milliethom says:

        Maypole dancing is fun and I imagine your daughters loved doing it – especially if they got all dressed up for it. I’ve seen photos of maypole dancing in Australia and the USA, so I knew the custom had travelled far and wide from Europe. As for Mr Whippy, I wish I’d thought of that comment about what the music meant when our children were all young. Thanks for that, Peggy.

  3. Joy Pixley says:

    I’ve never heard of a Mr. Whippy, but now I want some, after imagining that lovely afternoon seeing all those stalls and watching the dancing! And you know which stall you’d find me parked in front of: the demonstration of wattle and daub, of course!

    • milliethom says:

      Mr Whippy is just one of several ice cream companies that have vans here in the UK. Mr Softie is another one and Walls Ice Cream have lots of vans that go out to events. We also had one called Tonibell when we lived further south. I adore whipped ice cream, especially in a cone/cornet and the ice cream comes in a number of flavours and with or without a chocolate flake. They’re an important part of outdoor events and seaside resorts everywhere.
      The wattle and daub demo was interesting, Joy. Like you, I always veer towards anything that gives me detail about old customs or occupations etc.

  4. How wonderful! I wish we had this tradition in our part of the world but alas. We do celebrate Queen Victoria day here though!

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks Cybele. As far as I know we don’t celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday in England, although they have Victoria Day in Scotland (which I’m sure you’ll already know). Knowing your interests, Cybele, I’m sure you’d really enjoy the old traditions associated with May Day. The Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh the night before would probably appeal to you as it’s very Celtic.

  5. draliman says:

    Yay for Mr Whippy 🙂 I heard an ice cream van playing its tunes round my way on Monday, but I couldn’t get one as I couldn’t quickly lay my hands on my wet weather storm gear.
    That looks like a fun event!

  6. Looks like great fun! Enjoy seeing the pictures and hearing about this area of your beautiful country.

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you, Jack. It was a fun event, although, I confess, the Fair was more ‘cosy’ when it was on the village green. The cricket ground is so big that everything is too spaced out, if that makes sense to you. But it was still enjoyable – especially the ice-cream! 🙂
      I’ve just returned to my blog after a whole month of not posting at all. It’s lovely to hear from you, and I’ll email you very soon.

  7. Antonia says:

    It looks like a fun day! I love all of the history you share with us and the cool traditions. I enjoyed the dancing!

  8. milliethom says:

    Thanks Antonia. As always, I’m behind in relying, so apologies for this late one. Morris dancing is always fun to watch and I love hearing the bells attached to their clothes. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s