Photo supplied by Bert Kightley
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Report from the Wolverton Express June 3rd 1910
YARDLEY GOBION FESTIVAL
PICTURESQUE MAY REVELS
On Saturday the postponed Yardley Gobion May Festival of Empire Day celebrations took place, and was carried out under ideal conditions. That part of the festivities in connection with Empire Day were of a subdued, yet withal a fitting character. It is of interest to recall the fact that the idea of instituting a May Festival began in quite a humble way some 18 years ago, and owed its inception to Mrs Fitzroy, who desired to give the children of the village a little annual holiday. Much care must have been bestowed upon the children’s dresses, their neat white frocks, with gaily-coloured sashes, harmonising nicely with the trim uniforms of the little boys who formed the May Queen’s bodyguard.
A charmingly pretty maiden was secured as May Queen this year in Miss Eunice Morton, and she gracefully and royally took her part in the ceremonials. She, of course was the central figure in the procession, which started from the school at 2 o’clock headed by the Yardley Gobion Britannia Prize Band and the banner, “Success to our May Day.” The bodyguard of uniformed boys, with blue sugar-loaf hats, preceded the Queen’s carriage. With her were the Misses Kitty Lambert and Gertie Odell (train bearers), Annie Holloway (fairy), Master Douglas Holloway (page). All were dressed in picturesque and appropriate costumes. The Seasons followed, a bevy of little girls representing Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, as follows:- Spring; Constance Knighton, Lizzie Lane, Ada Atkins, Marjorie Shakeshaft, Mary Drinkwater, and Maggie Holloway. Summer; Helen Lucas, Etta Luck, Fanny Smith, Hilda Gray, Gladys Smith, and Susan Lambert. Autumn; Mary Litchfield, Maggie Odell, Agnes Swain, Mabel Johnson, Nellie Atkins, and Lilian New. Winter; May Smith, Norah Shakeshaft, Dorothy Johnson, Annie Johnson, Florrie Litchfield, and Olive Johnson. Then came a gaily-ornamented car, on which Mr. H. Luck made an imposing figure as Father Neptune with his trident. The Mother Country and Colonies, adults this year taking the parts, were symbolised by Misses N. Evans (Britannia), E. Paine (England), H. Lambert (Scotland), V. Atkins (Ireland), D. Woolterton (Wales), Mrs. G. Eales (India), Miss L. Gray (Canada), Miss E. Morton (Australia), and Miss Hollingshead (New Zealand). More school children followed, and then there were:- Pipers, Walter Weston and Percy Atkins; Robin Hood, Thomas Cadd; Maid Marian, Charles Herbert; Morris Dancers, Masters Sidney Glenn, Allen Cadd, Wallace Swain, Alf Holloway, Will Atkins, Dennis Atkins, Herbert Atkins, and Roland Johnson. A grotesque caricature was given of an old-time hobby horse, by Walter Johnson, who brought up the rear.
The village was paraded the whole length, and then entered the field lent by Mrs. Weston, of Highcroft. Surrounded by stately trees, it formed an ideal playground for the May revels. Close upon 550 surrounded the ring, these coming from the villages of Potterspury, Ashton and Hartwell, Grafton Regis, Towcester, Stony Stratford, Wolverton and Stantonbury, Calverton, Hanslope, as well as many from the county town.
Accompanying Mrs. Fitzroy in the ring were, from the list supplied to us, Lady Wake and party (Courteenhall), the Rev. D. and Mrs. Annand, Capt. Annand, Mrs. And Misses Ridley, Mr. And Mrs. H. Brafield and Miss Brafield (Grafton Regis), Mr. And Mrs. Higham (Towcester), Mrs Powell and Miss Lowndes, Mrs Roberts (Deanshanger), the Rev. and Mrs. A. C. Neely (Milton), the Rev. and Mrs. E. J. Harkness (Hanslope), Master and Misses Browning, Mrs. Hunt (Towcester), Mrs. Robinson, Mrs. Hurry (Stony Stratford), Mr. E. J. Boyce (Wolverton), etc. His Grace the Duke of Grafton, K. G., was prevented from attending in the afternoon by a more important engagement in Northampton.
On arrival at the field the saluting of the Union Jack was the first item of an interesting programme. The Queen’s bodyguard was composed of Masters Harry Luck (captain), George Lambert, Charles Johnson, Wilfred Warren, George Tapp, George Weston, Archie Jackson, Willie Pope, Victor Fry, Willie Swain, Frank and Willie Horton, Stanley and Ernest Lucas, Arthur Cadd, Tom Holloway, Oliver Odell, Albert Bucknell, Fred Lane, Thomas Bromwich, Frank Atkins, George Drinkwater, Oliver Johnson, and Henry Smith. Assembled in the ring, the children sang, “What is our flag?” and then followed the May revels, beginning with the address by the Herald, and the song by the girls, “Whom shall we choose?” The fairy’s words and act of coronation was prettily performed, as also were the presentations of the sceptre by the page and the bouquet by the maid of honour. The Queen having taken her seat on a raised dais, “All hail to the Queen of the May,” was heartily sung by the children, and, in response; the Queen, in a sweet voice, sang, “True, loving friends”. An action song “The Volunteer Review,” by the boys, and a wreath drill by the girls, were most acceptable items, and showed evidence of careful training by their teachers – Miss Roe (head mistress), Mrs. Lucas, and Miss Hollingshead (assistant mistresses), and Mrs. Eales. Mrs. Hollingshead also acted as accompanist. After the action songs, “Merry boys and merry maidens” (infants), and “Off to Blackpool” (boys), came the braiding of the Maypole. The interweaving of bright-coloured ribbons was prettily and tastefully done by the children, who with their costumes, helped to form a picturesque scene, and with their final dance, “Morris Off,” the children trooped off to their tea, an ample fare being provided in an adjoining barn, the adults sitting down later.
Further braiding of the Maypole, Morris dances, action songs and drills, etc., followed in the evening, with distribution of neat little mementoes of the occasion to the children. Mr. S. H. Hardwick was the courteous and hardworking Hon. Sec., and had the assistance of the following Committees; Ladies’ Committee (presided over by Mrs. Fitzroy), Mesdames Hy, Weston, Goldberg, C. Weston, A. Smith, Lucas, Barnes, G. Eales, Gear, W. Swain, Misses Roe, E. Weston, K. Holloway, Gray, Brown, Berrill, Masom, and Hollingshead. Management Committee, the Rev. A. Goldberg Messrs. H. T. F. Weston (chairman), C. Weston, A. Smith, R. Gray, G. Shakeshaft, W. Wentworth, jun., J. Lambert, W. Swain, F. Kightley, Hy. Smith, D. Warren, A. Masom, C. Gear, G. Eales, W. Lucas, R. Ashby, H. Kightley, J. Barnes and H. Lucas; Mrs H. Weston having charge of the tea arrangements.