Knutsford May Day
Prince and Princess of Wales made it a Royal celebration
Knutsford's Royal May Day celebrations are part of an English tradition.
The "modern" Knutsford May Day was inaugurated by the
Rev Robert Clowes in1864 when Annie Sarah Pollitt was chosen as
Queen of the May and Thomas Mullin as her crown bearer.
The prefix "Royal" was bestowed after the ceremony was
witnessed by the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1887. The following
is an extract from The Times, of May 4, 1887:
"The Prince and Princess of Wales left Tatton Hall for Manchester
yesterday. 'I'heir Royal Highnesses, accompanied by Lord Egerton
drove through Tatton Park in a landau with four bays and accompanied
A drive of three miles brought them to the great gate close to the
little town of Knutsford. The people of this quaint old English
place, whose sanded devices had been effaced by the feet of hundreds
of sightseers on the previous day, had been at work very early in
the morning with their funnels and sand, and one could again read
upon the highway the emblems and sentences of loyalty.
'I'he journev through Knutsford the previous day had been via King-street
and the return was through Princess-street. The principal public
interest of yesterday was therefore concentrated upon the latter
and upon the presentation of a bouquet to the Princess by the May
Queen of Knutsford, who with her courtiers and other attendants
was seated upon a throne raised in front of the Town Hall.
On the Royal carriage arriving opposite the'l'own-hall the Prince
and Princess were greeted with the most enthusiastic cheering by
the thousand assembled.
The Queen of the May, Miss Mary Ellen Howarth, who was dressed in
cream satin, advanced from her throne; along a crimson carpeted
approach, to the carriage and presented the Princess with a bouquet
composed principally of the beautiful orchid odontoglossum Alexandra.
The Princess spoke to the child for a few minutes, and Lord Egerton
then beckoned to Mr Nicholls the chairman of the May Day Festivities
Committee, to come forward, and the Prince and Princess conversed
with him regarding the quaint old May Day customs which have been
revived in Knutsford for some years.
During this conversation the retitiue of the May Queen were ranged
round her, including six maids of honour, two pages, crown bearer,
sceptre bearer, a number of miziiature beef'eaters, Court clowns,
and other characters.
Her Royal Highness readily acceded to the request that she would
witness the crowning of the May Queen, and Master Holt, the crown
bearer, then advanced and placed the crown upon the head of her
mimic majesty amid much cheering.
At the conclusion of the ceremony the Prince granted permission
to the committee to add the title of Royal to the Knutsford May
Day sport. Their Royal Highnesses then proceeded to the station
amid renewed cheering.
The special train which had brought the Royal party from London
had been drawn up alongside the platform, under the superintendence
of Mr Meldrum, the general manager of the Cheshire Lines Railway.
The Prince and Princess were accompanied in the saloon by Lady Sefton
and Lord Egerton, and at 1O.55 the train steamed out of Knutsford
on its way to Manchester amid great enthusiasm from the crowd assembled
outside the station."
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