(Image credit: www.knutsford-royal-mayday.co.uk)
10 things that you might not already know about the Royal May Day in Knutsford…
1. The Royal May Day is the pinnacle of Knutsford’s calendar and takes place every year on the first Saturday of May. The Royal May Day procession parades through the town and the tradition was started in 1864 by the Vicar of Knutsford, Rev Robert Clowes.
2. There’s a list of all the characters who take part in the procession. It varies slightly each year, but mainstays include: The Marshall, The Town Crier, Jack in the Green and the themes of The Wedding and A Country Garden plus a selection of nursery rhymes as well as morris dancers and various bands. You can see the full list here: www.knutsford-royal-mayday.co.uk/programme-procession
3. There’s a full, and very long, list of all the past queens and crown bearers. It’s considered a real privilege to be selected, and children spend many years working their way up through the ranks in the hope of one day being selected as either the Royal May Queen or Crown Bearer. See the full list, here: www.knutsford-royal-mayday.co.uk/may-queens-crown-bearers
4. The prefix ‘Royal’ was bestowed upon the event in 1887 by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra (then Prince and Princess of Wales). To this day, the town remains exceedingly proud of its royal title.
5. The 2019 Royal May Queen is Ciara York. Ciara is thirteen years old and will be crowned on Saturday 4th May 2019 by Finley Wright, the 2019 Crown Bearer.
6. Alongside Ciara, a number of other girls have been chosen as members of the court. Isabella Cunningham and Libby Ellis were selected as Ladies in Waiting; Daisy Boardman, Aurora Lee-Kilgariff Annabel Reeve and Maisie Wright were chosen to be Court Ladies; Laura Silcock will be this year’s Maid Marion. Amelie McGill Anglin, Lily Boardman, Kyra Howard, Chloe Kirkham, Holly Pearce and Daisy Scott were all selected as Maids of Honour.
7. One of the unique customs of the Royal May Day festival is the ‘sanding’ of the streets. These are a series of mottoes and arabesques traced in brightly coloured sand to decorate the pavements. They don’t last long, however, and passing feet from the large crowds the event draws into the town often obliterate them! The sanding occurs outside the Royal May Queen’s house and that of the Crown Bearer as well as outside the Lord Eldon (the home of the first Royal May Queen) along with various other places around the town.
8. An excerpt from the Guardian, 7th May 1864, reads: “The first celebration at Knutsford, of May Day, took place on Monday 2nd May when such a site was witnessed by the inhabitants as will not be forgotten. The idea was first originated with the Miss Clowes, through whose efforts the arrangements were carried out most successfully … Throughout the town the day was observed as a general holiday, and the inhabitants appeared in holiday costume, while flags and banners hung from almost every trademan’s window.”
9. It has been a long tradition of the Royal May Day that horse drawn lorries/carriages are used for the numerous floats instead of diesel wagons. As time goes by it become more difficult to maintain this tradition, but the event’s committee work very hard throughout the year to bring as many traditional vehicles as possible.
10. The roads will be closed. The parade takes about 90 minutes from start to finish, beginning from Church Hill at 2pm and then finishing its journey on The Heath. Diversions and restrictions are necessary because the parade uses a number of major roads, including the A50. If you’re in the area, expect long delays in the afternoon. There will also be diversions situated around the town from 10am-4pm on various roads.