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May Day in Swerford 1935

May Day 1935. Betty King (Burchell) top right (in hat),Violet Johnson on her right and Billy Burson far left.


'The day before May Day all the mothers went round collecting flowers from the fields or neighbours to make the garlands. The main garland was a grand affair:three long sticks were tied at the top then spread out lower down to hold a wooden hoop. It was then covered with small bunches of flowers; a pearl crown proudly made the top. On the hoop sat a large china doll dressed as a bride. Two thin poles were pushed through it for two boys to carry. A smaller garland of two hoops was also made.

The May Queen wore white with a veil and crown of flowers. She was accompanied by two maids of honour.In Swerford a necklace of large pearls was kept at the local school for the Queen. Songs were sung all round the village and the May King, wearing a sash, collected money.

Tea was provided in the school: meat or fish paste sandwiches, bread and butter, biscuits, currant buns (7 for 6d)and lemonade (the powder kind, a teaspoon per cup). After tea, sports were held in the cow ground, the field opposite the school. The head teacher held a bag of cheap boiled sweets and called the children together, then took a handful and threw them into the air. The children all scrambled to pick them from the grass. This was repeated till the bag was empty. Each child received an orange and a few sweets to take home.'

As recalled by Betty Burchell, born 1917, who lived at Woodlea, Church End until her marriage when she moved to Great Tew.

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