Redmire Maypole, North Yorkshire

Maypole (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SE 045 912

Redmire's ancient Oak

Archaeology & History

As with many of Britain’s old maypoles, the one at Redmire has long since disappeared and no local in the 20th century appears to have had any memory of it.  However, it was mentioned in Victorian times and described in McGregor’s (1989) fine history work on the village:

“At one time, somewhere on the Green, stood a maypole which was destroyed by lightning.  I never heard the memory of it recalled during my early life, but it is mentioned in their books by both Barker and Bogg.  The remnants of it appear to have been there in 1850 or 1852, as Barker, writing at that time says, ‘A maypole, rare in Yorkshire, stands on the Green.  It was shivered to pieces by the electric fluid, during a thunderstorm, in the summer of 1849.  This poor maypoles catastrophe would have been regarded by the old Puritans as a direct and visible manifestation of the wrath of heaven at such a heathenish practice.’  Redmire, as we know, took pleasure in dancing in the 19th century, and continued to do so, especially after the building of the Town Hall…”

When Edmund Bogg came here at the end of th 19th century, he saw “the base of the ancient maypole…near to, a twisted and ancient oak” whose ancient branches were being held upright by large wooden posts.  This sacred oak itself was said to “still cast its shade over a small spring of water.”  Unfortunately I ‘ve found no more about this lost pagan relic…

References:

Barker, W.G.M.J., The Three Days of Wensleydale, Charles Dolman: London 1854.
Bogg, Edmund, Wensleydale and the Lower Vale of Yore, E. Bogg: Leeds n.d. (c.1900)
McGregor, Isabelle, Redmire – A Patchwork of its History, privately printed: Redmire 1989.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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One Response to Redmire Maypole, North Yorkshire

  1. esmeraldamac says:

    Shame! Although you can imagine pious residents making much of the lightning strike…

    I think a good few maypoles vanished around 1850 – not from lightning strikes but from the influx of national ideas, overwriting local traditions. You read a lot of reports from the end of the 19thc mocking earlier ideas that had just about been driven out. It seems to have been a period when popular ideas changed dramatically.

    As I said, shame :(

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