|"May Day is celebrated in only a few places of which
Aldborough is one. We must all be grateful to Mrs
Atherley for revising this proud old custom in 1965. A
number of overseas visitors were thrilled for they had
never seen traditional Maypole dancing before. They
danced to tunes by the English Folk Song and Dance
The celebrations began with a gay procession of adults and children in fancy dress and with decorated ponies. The procession set out from the manor and was led by the lIay Queen. She was crowned by lIiss Margaret Green, headmistress of Great Smeaton Junior School who, with Mrs Atherley, had trained the children in the dancing.
The first Maypole was erected in September 1903 and another in 1937. The present Maypole was erected in 1964 by the Aldborough and Boroughbridge Preservation Society, the crown at the top being made from a 1914 war shell. Mr Dixon Stephinson of Aldborough was the inaugurator of the 1965 lIay Day Festival in support of Mrs Atherley's revival of the traditional dancing after a lapse of many years. Mrs Atherley retired in 1972 and the Aldborough Young Wives Group took over the arrangements.
The Maypole was taken down by crane for the repainting in 1975 and that September was reinstated by a team of 40 men in the traditional way with the assistance of a team from Barwick-in-Elmet who have their own maypole which is taken down every third year - by hand - for decoration. It is now hoped to do this in Aldborough. In spite of poor weather, the re-instatement attracted quite a crowd and the Maypole was carried across the green like a giant centipede. At the hole, seven men held the pole, some took positions on four ropes at compass points and a dozen held four ladders, steadied with pitch forks. At this stage, at a given word, the ropes were pulled and the ladders pushed until the pole stood at 75 degrees, when the ropes took over sole control. To the acclamation of 100 or so spectators, the ribbons were released and the village children performed maypole dances. This was a most spectacular sight and the occasion was celebrated by the provision of a barrel of beer and refreshments for the team. The exercise was organised by the Preservation Society.
A collection is taken on the Green each May Day, which is spendidly supported and the proceeds given to the Preservation Society, the Church and other good causes. In 1975, a lIay Day Church Fund was opened with l100 taken on May Day. From 1967 onwards, the lay Queen has always been crowned by the retiring May Queen."