Lost Higham maypole to return after six decades

Image source, Higham Exhibition
Image caption,
An old photograph shows a traditional maypole dance in the village from 1947

A forgotten maypole which was last erected in the 1940s will be used to revive the ancient tradition in a Lancashire village after being found in a church.

The pole, thought to be at least six decades old, was recently found at St John's Church in Higham.

It will be used in a traditional may fair folk dance in the village later.

Maypole dancing was once an annual event around England but the tradition has faded in many places.

Image source, St John's School
Image caption,
The maypole has had fresh ribbons attached, ready for a dance led by local school children

The pole's discovery prompted teachers at St John's Church of England Primary School to teach pupils maypole dances.

Deputy head teacher Dominic O'Neill said he hoped it would be "something we could continue".

"I think it's really, really important because it goes back to the essence of village, school, community and church," he said.

Maypole dancing

Image source, Andy Stephenson/Geograph
  • Traditionally performed on May Day in England, maypole dances are survivors from ancient times when dancers would go around a living tree as part of spring rites to ensure fertility
  • They are performed around a tall pole garlanded with greenery or flowers and often hung with ribbons
  • Similar dances take place in Spain, Scandinavia and across other areas of Europe, and also are found in India

Brian Sutcliffe, who found the pole and has helped organise the dances, said it had "decades of dust on it" when he happened across it.

"Finding it after all these years of being abandoned, I was quite enthusiastic in renovating it and it's now going to relive its purpose," he said.

The restoration has included the pole being repainted and having new bright coloured ribbons attached.

The dances will mark the last day of the Higham Exhibition, a seasonal arts and craft fair and farmers market which has been running for the last 46 years.

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