Hastings May Queen
Hastings May Queen

Click to return home Hastings May Queen

5th May 2013 Hastings May Queen returns to Alexandra Park after 24 years.

Crowning Hatings May Queen

Ion Castro was there with his camera and explains his connection with the event.

On Sunday, fifth of May, I took myself down to Alexandra Park, not just because it’s at the end of my road, not just because it was a beautiful day, not just because it’s a beautiful park but because that’s where the crowning of the May Queen was being held, and the crowning of the May Queen had come back to Alexandra Park after all those years at Hastings Castle. The event had first been celebrated 80 years ago and most likely in the park.
The Crowning of the May Queen in Alexandra Park holds very special memories for me because I was involved with it all over half a century ago, not as an organiser of course, although I was probably quite bossy even then, but as one of the participants – in those days I attended, part time, the Orchard School of Speech and Drama run by Dorothy Catt The school was based in a fine old detached victorian villa called Radcliffe House not far from the Briers and I remember it complete with the most enormous clump of pampas grass in the crescent formed by the double carriage drive. Of course as a small person as I was then it may not really have been that big clump. Both Radcliffe House and the pampas grass have long gone to be replaced with the housing development known as Radcliffe Close. Whilst at The Orchard I achieved the honour of being a page-boy, and for several years, dressed in a shiny white satin medieval-style suit, I carried the banner and stood, with another page-boy on the base of the maypole to stop it falling over. In those days the event was organised by Dorothy Catt and Phyllis Godfrey of the dance school of the same name and they used to provide the May Queen on alternate years and back then there were also alternative May Queens in Bulverhythe and I believe Hollington and even Hughenden Road, although the latter may have been a bit earlier. I do recall that the actress Gwen Watford that older readers may remember had been a May Queen just after the war but hadn’t been awarded her ‘fee’ so she came back and, with a special ceremony, was officially presented with her shilling - and I was lucky enough to be part of the event.


Crowning Hatings May Queen

So that’s my connection with the event and we move forward some 55 years to this year. In my day the whole event took place on the first lawn near the main entrance to the park and that’s where the procession assembled before moving on to the bandstand by the café. This year the event was organised by Barry and Helen Jones and the May Queen, Sophie Mepham was crowned by Hastings’ Mayor Cllr. Alan Roberts who also presented Sophie with her shilling before she went on to watch the traditional maypole dancing from her throne in the bandstand. All that was missing was a certain trolleybus bearing up at the rear but there’s always next year.

Crowning Hatings May Queen Crowning Hatings May Queen
Hastings May Queen
This article first appeared in 'Hastings Town' vol 65

all photos (c) Ion Castro 2013

Top of page

XL(2000)Ltd operates hastings.1066.net and Hastings' favourite web sites
Click for 1066.net - the 1066 network
and Powered by 1066 Country Ltd
Click for XL(2000)Ltd
Click to return home