The first day of May once again brought a new May Queen to the village of Ansty, near Tisbury, this year.
Due to the recent easing of Covid restrictions, the village was able to reinstate its long-standing annual tradition and crown its May Queen on the 1st May after being unable to do so last year.
10 year old Alice Morgan, who lives in the village, was crowned last Saturday by Mark Lloyd, the Master of Ceremonies, who remained socially distanced throughout, at the Maypole in the centre of the village.
Ansty and its Maypole date back approximately 1000 years, and its May Day celebrations are reputed to go back to Pagan times to mark the coming of Spring.
The long-standing tradition aims to ensures fertility for the forthcoming year. The Arundells of Wardour are believed to have erected a May Pole from Wardour Wood, using it as a meeting place for the tenants of the estate to bring their children on 1st of May.
Except for a period between 1644 and 1660, when the Puritans had the May Pole removed, this gathering has continued every year since – until, of course, COVID stopped the May Day celebrations in 2020.
In 1982 the 98ft high pole, reputed to be the highest in England, was put up. It
was blown down in a gale in the winter of 1993, and the replacement currently standing is ‘only’ 50 foot tall.
Although there could be no villagers present, and the maypole dancing seen in previous years could not proceed in current restrictions, Alice had her brother George in attendance – himself a previous May King – along with her parents. In the absence of the Morris Men, Alice’s parents lifted her as part of the traditional celebrations.
It is hoped that the traditional May Day celebrations will resume in full next year.