Tuesday, April 30, 2013

May Day – Deptford Jack in the Green

Deptford Jack in the Green 2011 © The Company of the Green Man
May Day is being celebrated by the Fowlers Troop and Deptford Jack in the Green with a procession from Deptford to Greenwich on the first day of May 2013.

Unfortunately May 1st is not a bank holiday, but anyone who is free on Wednesday is welcome to join in this pagan celebration.

Most of the route is on public streets, but between the Rose and Crown and the Star and Garter they will process through the Old Royal Naval College, and between the Plume of Feathers and the Richard I, they will process through Greenwich Park.

Dressing the Jack will take place the night before, Tuesday 30th April 2013 at the Dog and Bell (time to be confirmed). The schedule for May 1st is as follows:

12.00 Depart from Dog and Bell, 116 Prince St  London, Greater London SE8 3JD (pub opens at 11),
12.45 Rose and Crown, 1 Crooms Hill, Greenwich, London SE10 8ER,
13.45 Star and Garter, 60 Old Woolwich Rd, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY,
14.25 Plume of Feathers, 19 Park Vista  London, London SE10 9LZ,
15.25 Richard I (the Tolley), 52/54, Royal Hill, Greenwich, London, SE10 8RT,
16.10 Ashburnham Arms, 25 Ashburnham Grove,  Greenwich, London SE10 8UH.

Updates will appear on the web page: www.deptford-jack.org.uk/mayday2013
Details of what to wear and the tunes played are at: www.deptford-jack.org.uk/kitandmusic

In case you didn't know, that's why you've got a day off next Monday, although the May bank holiday (which was only created in 1978 in the UK) was nearly abolished by the new Tory government in 2011 because May Day, traditionally celebrated on May 1st, is also Labour Day, or International Workers Day, celebrated all over the world, and in a great many countries is a day off work on the actual day, with major public festivals to celebrate workers' rights.

Photo: Thankful Sturdee circa 1906

Many older readers will remember celebrating at school with a Maypole, Morris dancing and crowning a May Queen, as towns and villages all over the UK celebrated springtime fertility. May 1st is also the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, Catholic patron saint of workers, and a day off was given to farm labourers since seeding was usually done by this time. May Day is related to the Celtic festival of Beltain and the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night. It falls exactly six months from November 1st, another day associated with European pagan festivals in the northern hemisphere.

There are May Day festivities being held all around the country, though many are now scheduled to happen over the bank holiday than on the actual day. It's a very big deal in Rochester and Hastings when each town goes a bit bonkers from May 1st-6th. The nearest is Rochester which does the Jack-in-the-Green on Wednesday, then has the Sweeps Parade on Monday 6th.

Fowlers Troop and the Deptford Jack in the Green procession to the City of London 2012 © demotix.com
Deptford's Jack in the Green lurking like a triffid in Royal Hill 2011 © 853 blog


  1. It is good informative blog that shows significance of May day on first of may...we know 1 may is celebrated as Labour Day, or International Workers Day but may day has its own significance and it is mention how differently people celebrate it..

    Francois Sainfort

  2. Lets all remember that May Day is about having boundless lusty fun while celebrating the start of summer.