historian, states that there were aged people who could remember when the Summerhaugh was decorated with green boughs for the May dancing. The maypole was erected here for Whitsuntide revels. At Hurstbourne Tarrant, (locally Uphusband), a few miles further up the Bourne valley, the maypole existed some sixty years ago. It was "painted white, with a spiral coil of blue round it from base to apex." The festivities were held here a week after the St. Mary Bourne Revels in July.
The May Day festival at St. Mary Bourne lingers on as "Garland Day," when the children carry round garlands and beg, but in most places the May Day revels now are rather official than spontaneous. At Hursley the children's song was edited about sixty years ago by the vicar, John Keble, and the words they sing are practically his.
At Otterbourne, where the name "Maypole Field" survives, Miss Yonge recorded the children's chant:—
"April's gone! May's come!
Come and see our garland."
The last line is very generally sung. In the neighbourhood of Hannington, on the Downs south of Kingsclere, I heard a few years ago of the children coming round with bunches of flowers tied on long sticks, and singing a weird song that ended:
But everywhere, even in the north-west of the county, May Day begging is said to be fast dying out. For one reason the children do not get a holiday, and so the time in which they can indulge therein is strictly limited. At Longstock,
- [An old man, who is a native of Bere Forest, tells me that up to the time he left the county, about 1875, the first of May was known there as Garland Day, and was celebrated by children carrying about garlands of flowers for admiration and halfpence. C. S. Burne.]
- Sussex and Wilts also. Cf. Jefferies, Wild Life in a Southern County, cap. v, for Wilts customs.