Sadly these traditional celebrations have been on the decline for many years, so I was thrilled to receive these pictures from Albie of the ‘May Day’ festival in his village of Wellow in Nottinghamshire. I feel it is very important that these ancient traditions survive.
“Basically, today was the 60th anniversary of the dancing returning after WW2. The old May queens were from 1950 through to last year’s representing each decade. The youngsters are all from the village I believe.
This tradition of the May Queen and dancing would have been well known to Robin Hood. There was a similar scene from the Robin of Sherwood TV series I believe. It is a tradition we must keep. So much has been lost, this cannot be left to fade into history, although I live 3 miles from Wellow this is the first time I have been to May Day since 1978 (I think). There were a massive number of people there today, more than is normal/ don’t know whether this is due to the Crowe film but good to see so many there.”
I travelled through Wellow quite recently, but alas didn’t have time to look around. The name Wellow is derived from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Wehag’ which means ‘enclosure by a well or spring’ and this idyllic village has many connections with Robin Hood.
According to the book 'Robin Hood and the Lords of Wellow' by Tony Molyneux-Smith, its unusually shaped village green holds more secrets than would appear at first glance. Although the green has changed over the centuries, as houses were built and the road to Eakring constructed, his book says that it is still possible to see that its original shape would have formed a perfect triangle - the shape of an arrow head - which points directly at the castle of the Sheriff of Nottingham!
Wellow was given permission to hold a market in 1268 and has one of only three permanent maypoles in England. Surviving records show that a maypole stood on the green in 1856 but the village tradition goes back much earlier and the local 12th century church celebrated this fact, when it recently commissioned a beautiful stained glass window of the Wellow maypole.