Maypole: OS Grid Reference – SE 2068 2672
Archaeology & History
As in countless villages and towns across the British Isles, Gomersal also once had its maypole near or at the village centre. We don’t know when the first maypole was erected in the village and many local sites were openly destroyed by rampant christian puritans and similar idiots. It stood not far from the Moor Lane Well and was described by the regional historian H.A. Cadman (1930), who told:
“The Maypole was at the top of Moor Lane and one can imagine the welkin echoing to the very old song:
‘Come lasses and lads take leave of your dads
And away to the maypole hie.
For every fair has a sweetheart there
And the fiddlers standing by.
For Willy shall dance with Jane
And Johnny has got his Joan.
To trip it, trip it, trip it, trip it,
Trip it up and down.’
Yet as with maypoles up and down the land, testosterone-fuelled Springtime fall-outs happened. Mr Cadman told:
“Very often May Day gatherings ended up with fights. Great jealousy always existed between the inhabitants of Great Gomersal, Little Gomersal and Spen. There is a tradition which has been handed down that the last Maypole in this district stood on Liversedge Green. This Maypole was demolished in a fight by the Gomersalians and there is a similar tradition about the Maypole on Cleckheaton Green, so as Mr Frank Peel says, “It is evident that ancient inhabitants of Gomersal were more pugnacious than their neighbours.” I have no evidence when the Gomersal Maypole ceased to exist, but there is abundant evidence to prove that there was one in Gomersal, the proof being that the vane is now in Batley Museum. It is in the form of a fish.”
If anyone has any further information on this important relic, or its history, please let us know.
- Cadman, H. Ashwell, Gomersal, Past and Present, Hunters Armley: Leeds 1930.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian