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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/332

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Some Oxfordshire Seasonal Festivals.

north of the Thames, and fourteen miles west of Oxford. It is even now two miles from the nearest railway station, and its isolated position, — for till recently no made road at all passed near it[1] — has been very favourable to the survival of ancient custom.

Up to within forty or fifty years ago, a party of children used to go round the town on May Day, dressed in white, with red, white and blue ribbons (these are now the colours of the club). A boy called the "Lord" carried a stick dressed with ribbons and flowers, which was called a "sword," and a collecting box for pence. Two girls, known as the "Lady" and her "Maid," carried on a stick between them the "garland," which was made of two hoops crossed, and covered with moss, flowers and ribbons. The "Lady" also carried a "mace," a square piece of board mounted horizontally on a short staff, on the top of which were sweet-smelling herbs under a muslin cover, decorated with red, white and blue ribbons and rosettes (pl. v., No. 3). The "Lord" and "Lady" were accompanied by a "Jack-in-the-Green." From time to time the "Lady" sang the following words :

Ladies and gentlemen,
I wish you a happy May ;
Please smell my mace,
And kiss my face,
And then we'll shew our garland.

After the words "kiss my face," it was the "Lord's" duty to kiss the "Lady," and then to hand round his money box. The farmers and well-to-do people, so my informants say, used to give as many half-pence as possible, for the fun of seeing the "Lord" kiss the "Lady" after the giving of every half-penny.

This custom has been almost discontinued on May Day for many years past, but is kept up, without the Jack-in-the-

  1. G. L. Gomme, Village Community, pp. 158-9.