Maypoles were traced to prehistoric times when the Tree Spirit was worshipped (Sir James George Frazer in his book ‘The Golden Bough‘). People danced around the poles but did not plait them.
Slingsby Maypole Timeline
- 1708: The Quakers tried to stop the May dancers round the poles at Sinnington, Helmsley, Kirbymoorside and Slingsby. “At Slingsby there was a great dordum of a fight.”
- 1799: Maypole erected.
- 1814: Maypole re-erected.
- 1864: A new Maypole was put up to replace the one erected in 1799. It was 87 feet long.
- 1871: Maypole replaced with 81 feet tall pole.
- 1880: The Maypole is taken down and repainted.
- 1887: Maypole taken down again for a repaint for the Jubilee of Queen Victoria.
- 1895: Upper part of 1887 Maypole spliced to a new pole 40 feet from ground.
- 1905: Raising of a new Maypole in Slingsby.
- 1924: A new 80 feet tall Maypole replaces the 1905 pole. Due to World War One the 1905 pole remained in place past its 1915 replacement date.
- 1935: King George V Silver Jubilee and the pole is plaited by adults organised by Mr L. Lascelles.
- 1956: Maypole blew down on March 2nd.
- 1959: Lord Morpeth inaugurates the raising of a new Maypole in August. It blew down on January 13th 1984. The following message was in a bottle placed at the bottom of the Maypole in 1959.
‘The Maypole raised in 1923 blew down in a storm in the early hours of March 2nd 1956. A new Maypole was kindly given by Lady Aurea Macleod and placed on the grass verge of the road near the reading room. It remained there seasoning for about two years. A public meeting on 13th May 1957 elected a committee which collected funds for the raising. A further public meeting on 25th May 1959 elected a fresh committee which decided to raise the new Maypole at the August Bank holiday weekend.
The Maypole is a larch tree selected Mr Hardisty, Head forester on the Castle Howard estate. Advice on treatment and painting were given by Mr Clarke, head of Castle Howard timber yard. Painting by Mr David Thackray, Slingsby. Raising done by Messrs Thackray, Old Malton.
The New Maypole raised 1pm, 1st August (Saturday) 1959. Signal for raising given by the Right Honorable Viscount Morpeth also representing the Lady Aurea Macleod who sent good wishes but was unable to be present. Schoolchildren round a smaller Maypole having being trained by Mrs Wrest, Schoolmistress.”
- 1985: New Maypole raised on 11th May 1985 (Saturday) celebrated by having stalls, Maypole dancing, fancy dress and other attractions. The signal for raising was given by Miss Lascelles, followed by tea in the village hall and a dance at night.
NOTE: The above information is taken from a document supplied by Lilyan Johnson. It was originally published in the April/May 2012 edition of The Triangle.
YouTube video footage by Rod Ayres.