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Castleton

A village in the High Peak of Derbyshire in the Pennine hills of England a few miles from Tideswell where Sharp collected The Castleton Garland Dance in the early 1900s (The Morris Book part v).

In Castleton, the Morris is celebrated on Garland Day (Royal Oak Day, 29th May). This reputedly celebrates the restoration of the monarchy (Charles II 1660) combined with the ancient festival to celebrate the end of winter. Sharp reported that the ceremony had degenerated very much in the last few years. A fuller account than his own is given in Folk Lore xii.,pp.394-428 in 1901 by Mr S.O. Addy (Folk Lore is the journal of the Folk Lore Society)

A procession takes place around public houses. It is preceded by a man with a broom to sweep the way clear for the King and Queen (or Lady) and a troupe of Morris Dancers with the village band. The King wears a large conical wicker garland covered with flowers. The top of the garland has a smaller bunch of flowers called the Queen.

The Queen (lady) is a man (Betsy). The morris dancers carry boughs rather than sticks and throw them from hand to hand. Women danced too in the later years (Sharp). At the end of the procession, the garland is lifted off the King and hauled up the Church Tower. The Morris men dance a processional dance, and when stopped at each Inn, they perform a stationary dance which Sharp describes as ' ... a few rounds of a progressive Country Dance ... ' .

These days, it has attendants, school children and is more formalised. The Garland is made by local pubs in rotation and is a metal hoop with wooden staves rather than wicker. It seems the schoolgirls have taken the place of Morris dancers and apart from dancing (presumably the Stationary Dance) at each pub, they dance round a Maypole and the King places the Queen (flowers) on the war memorial and the band play the Last Post. There is a heavy oak theme and a Stuart inspired costuming.

In the past it was danced by the bellringers up to the turn of the century (1900). By Sharp's time, the tradition was on its last legs.

It is also reported that the King is on horseback followed by 'a fool' dressed as a woman also on horseback, the garland is made at midday and the King appears at 5:30 to beat the bounds. In 1885, Alfred Burton reported that the garland was made with wild flowers arranged in rows of the same flower and all the flowers were gathered locally the night before. It took four men five hours to make and started at noon.

Castleton seems to have compressed at least five different events into one celebration (Beating the Bounds, Maypole Dance, Beltane, Oak Apple Day, Morris)