Friday, 1 May 2009

MERRY MAY-KING

I grew up in what was - in my youth - a rural village (now a semi-suburban dormitory of London) where ancient rituals such as the crowning of a May Queen were still observed. As part of the ceremony, held on the village green, the youngsters would dance round the Maypole - a custom that dates back hundreds of years.

So, today, we usher-in the month of May with this wonderful old window...

Click image to enlarge

Showing a Maypole and various merrie-makers, it was once part of Betley Court, an 18th century manor house in the ancient village of Betley, near Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire.

The window, which can now be seen in London's Victoria and Albert Museum, is a fine example of enamelled glass and is, possibly, the oldest representation of (possibly) Morris dancers to be found in this country.

Read more of the fascinating the history of the Betley window and the intriguing origins of the figures depicted on the window.

However you celebrate the arrival of May (with or without the involvement of Maypoles and Morris dancing) here, to help get you fully into the mood, is Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Guinevere in the 1967 movie version of Lerner and Loewe's musical, Camelot, extolling the lascivious virtues (if that's not too much of a contradiction in terms) of 'The Lusty Month of May'...



Image: David Weeks © 2009

By the way, there are many more windows to look at - or through - on my blog Window Gazing.

4 comments:

LisaH said...

The characters in the window look rather scary, but since I don't suppose you felt like getting a photo of you and David in Morris Dancing outfits, it gets the idea across.

Brian Sibley said...

In point of fact (as you'll see if you follow the second link on the post) the figures originally came from a panel representing 'The Dance of the Lovers' - although I think that kind of love-dance has probably gone out of fashion - except, possibly, in one or two very out-the-way night-clubs in Middle-earth! And, of course, at the AGM of the National Morris Dancers Association...

Eudora said...

Maypole, curious, I didn`t know this custom, but I know the dances around a stick withh flowers and ribbons.

In my country in may are different customs and festivals, the "mayos", perhaps more similar to your Mayople, and the religious custom: the crosses of may, crosses plenty of flowers to celebrate the 3thr of May.

Brian Sibley said...

Yes, a Maypole is exactly that: a pole strung with ribbons that the dancers weave down around the length of pole as they dance round it intertwining with one another.