Sunday, 10 May 2015

May Day celebrations at Kentwell House, Suffolk

Kentwell House, a masterpiece of a country house dating back to Tudor times provided an atmospheric backdrop to a wonderful celebration of the start of May.


Many local volunteers not only dressed up in Tudor costumes but maintained their characters throughout the day including the children, responding in old English whilst carrying out their tasks. Timings of each event were approximate as they didn't have watches in them days, which for us who are used to schedules, Google calenders with pop up reminders came as a relief that we could just forget about time for a while and go with the flow. We threw ourselves into the spirit of the day, Matilda even took part in a Chaucer play volunteering happily to don a chicken costume along with a number of other children.





The highlight of our trip was the May Day Parade with the pretty May Day Queen at the helm, we loved walking through the estate carrying flags wearing handmade floral garlands in our hair, decorated with flowers we'd picked ourselves. May Day, always held on the first Monday in May traditionally celebrated Springtime fertility, originally a Pagan festival it was an opportunity for the working community to gather together for revelry and fun. Activities included Morris Dancing but more importantly dancing around the Maypole as well as the crowning of the May Day Queen, the personification of Spring. The Queen led the parade adorned with fresh, Spring flowers.




Dressed up volunteers provided an insight into how villagers lived in Tudor times even to the extent of making dishes from that era on the wood fire out in the beautiful gardens. We were given a little taster of beans stewed with cumin which tasted delicious as well as a cheesy dish that wouldn't have been out of place at our modern lunch table. Inside the house servants explained how it was run like clockwork for their masters, whilst the house itself was fraying around the edges this certainly didn't detract from it's glorious architecture.


Living in the country has made me much more aware of the seasons, the beauty of Autumn the harshness of Winter and now the reawakening of mother nature in Spring. Wild flowers are springing up everywhere I look, where the ground has lain bare for months it is now covered in a blanket of colour. Monday was the embodiment of all the reasons we wanted to leave city life, the joy in Matilda's face as she helped pick the flowers for the garland, joining in with the players, taking in the Spring animals and nature. It confirmed why living the country life in her early years will not only stand her in good stead for the future but provide her with a more wholesome childhood more aware of the natural beauty that surrounds us.