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May gads, garlands and ladies: Maureen James explores some once widespread May Day customs (Smallholder, May 2011).
"The first of May is Garland Day So please remember the garland. We don't come here but once a year, So please remember the garland.”
The above rhyme, recalled by a woman from Norfolk in the 1950s reflects a common custom found around the country until relatively recently, in which on May Morning children, mostly girls, would go from house to house carrying a well dressed doll either in the centre of a garland made from two hoops, one at right angles inside the other, decorated with leaves and flowers or in a flower filled box, basket or cradle.
Christmas at Camelot - Maureen James explores the Medieval country house festivities (Smallholder, December 2009)
SOME people believe that every seven years on Christmas Eve, King Arthur and his knights can be seen riding down from Cadbury Castle to drink from the waters of a nearby spring.
Trothplights and spousals, a history of country weddings - Maureen James explores the history of rural wedding customs (Smallholder - February 2009)
In this month of the Feast of St Valentine, when love and romance are hard to ignore, I thought I would add to the deluge by sharing with you some of fascinating history of wedding customs from early until recent times.
Stately routes of commerce - Maureen James looks at our canals and inland waterways – past, present and future (Smallholder, July 2008)
I GREW up about two miles from the Grand Union Canal and spent quite a bit of my childhood watching the narrowboats navigating their way through the locks.
ROBERT Staff, who formerly kept the Maid's Head Inn at Stalham Norfolk, opposite the churchHe and two other menwatched the church porch, opposite to the house, on St Mark's Eve The above passage, recorded in 1849, is one of many accounts of a macabre ritual carried out by brave parishioners who wished to gain knowledge of who would die or be married in the next twelve months. In this article I would like to explain more about this practice; consider the significance of the church porch and the lych gate and attitudes to the dead in the past; and finally look at a modern homage to death customs in the form of the Lyke Wake Walk.
Land Girls – rewarded at last - Maureen James looks back at the work of the Women's Land Army in the 1939-45 war (Smallholder, February 2008)
LATER this year the Government will finally recognise the selfless efforts of thousands of women who worked on the Home Front to provide food and timber during the 1939-45 war.
Whats with the 'other crowd'? - Maureen James explores fairy beliefs and tradition at the time when the veil' between our world and theirs is at its thinnest. (Smallholder, September 2006)
In July 2004 I wrote an article for Smallholder Magazine on the subject of Robin Goodfellow and the Mischievous Fairyfolk. It was predominantly about the history of fairies in England... In June this year I spent a weekend in Derbyshire exploring fairies and fairy traditions in the company of the Irish fairy and folklore collector Eddie Lenihan.
Eddie is Ireland's foremost expert on the fairies, or as he prefers to call them 'the other crowd'. Years of listening to the old people, particularly in his home county of Clare, have given Eddie many, many hours of recordings of first hand accounts of fairy sightings and experiences, of which some are outlined in his book 'Meeting the Other Crowd'.