Yorkshire Maypoles No. 17 Sinnington Back to the Main Historical Society page
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Yorkshire Maypoles No. 17

from The Barwicker No. 69
Mar. 2003

Sinnington is an attractive village on the southern edge of the North York moors between Kirkbymoorside and Pickering, on a loop of road now by-passed by the A170. On a broad green flanked by mature trees is a stone building formerly the school and now the village hall. Close by stands the Sinnington maypole, a metal pole painted white and about 40 ft. high. It is surmounted as at Barwick with a fox weathervane, but with no direction indicators, and has ribbon hooks about one third of the way up the pole.

We are grateful to John Allan, the Sinnington historian, for supplying the information on which this article is based. There were reports of maypole activities in Sinnington in the 17th. century. In 1708, a group of puritans or 'broad brims' interrupted the May Day celebrations at Sinnington by surrounding the maypole and trying to stop the crowning of the May Queen, but the village 'bucks' sent them packing.

There are reports of a permanent maypole in the mid 19th. century. The local newspaper described the celebrations which accompanied the erection of a new maypole in 1862, when a marquee on the village green provided refreshments for 1300 people! This maypole blew down in a gale in 1881, and was replaced by a new one in 1882, which was 73 ft. high with 6 ft. underground. It was made of oak with a copper weathervane at the top. An old villager recalled how, in about 1903 he climbed the pole and was awarded a prize of a leg of mutton. This pole also blew down, in 1928, nearly hitting the school and smashing telegraph wires and part of a garden hedge. The site of its replacement in 1929 proved controversial; should the new pole be erected elsewhere on the village green, so that it did not endanger the school, or should the village stick to the traditional site only a few yards from the school? The latter course was adopted. The weathervane at the time was made of lead and copper in the shape of a fox in appreciation of the local hunt's contribution to the funds of the maypole.

In the 1930s, a lady schoolteacher revived the tradition of plaiting the pole and such routines as 'Steps', 'Gypsy Tent' and 'Barber's Pole' were danced. In 1948, the pole was taken down because of rot and decay. In 1949, a 90ft. larch pole was erected, with a copper weathervane in the shape of a fox provided by the Earl of Feversham. In the following decades three wooden poles were erected, to be replaced eventually by the present metal pole. May Day celebrations take place in the village in the May Bank holiday when maypole dancing occurs. May this long continue! We send our congratulations and best wishes to the villagers of Sinnington.

(From information supplied by JOHN ALLEN)

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