Worsley May Queen
Beginning in 1875, the Earl of Mulgrave, rector of St. Mark’s, Worsley, instituted the festival of crowning
the May Queen. For the next eight years, this became an increasingly popular local event, eventually
attracting up to 10,000 people. The weather over those few years was mixed! Due to his increasing
ill-health, the last fête was held in 1882. The May Queens over the years, (decided by ballot of the boys’
school!) were: 1875 Gertrude Derbyshire; 1876 Ada Berry; 1877 Miss M. A. Bagley; 1878 Lilian Stephenson;
1879 Katie Redford; 1880 Cecilia Hilton; 1881 Annie Morton; 1882 Lillian Irlam.
(Perhaps you are related to one of the May Queens?)
In 1884, the festival was revived and reported in the Leigh Chronicle, Friday 8 August 1884:
ROSE QUEEN CORONATION AT WORSLEY
For a few days the village of Worsley has presented an animated appearance, and has been the scene of
several fêtes. A sale of work was opened on Thursday afternoon, by Lady Algernon Egerton, and sports were held in the afternoon, and the other days of the week. The object of the festivities was to raise a sum of £600 to clear off the balance of the cost of a new organ chapel in St. Mark’s Church, Worsley.
On Saturday afternoon the Rose Queen coronation and children's fête were the attractions. This is the second year that a coronation of this kind has taken place at Worsley, and it bids fair to become an annual event. The whole of the arrangements were under the superintendence of the Very Rev. the Earl of Mulgrave. Although the sky bore a very threatening aspect in the morning, towards noon the sun shone
brightly. There were between 3,000 and 4,000 spectators present, and amongst these may be mentioned the Hon. and Lady Algernon Egerton, the Misses Egerton, and the Hon. Francis and Thomas Egerton, Lord Hervey Phipps, Viscount Brackley, Capt. Heaton, Mr. J. Laycock; the Rev. H.R. Hopwood and the Rev. W.G. Harland, curates of Worsley; the Rev. W.H. Baynes, vicar of Warton; the Rev, R. Hosgood, curate of St. Luke’s, Cheetham Hill; the Rev. J. H. Watmough, curate of Ellenbrook; and the Rev. R. Harland, curate of Walkden. The queen was Miss Hester Pollitt, of the Crescent, Worsley, and nearly 300 children, who represented various characters, took part in the procession. The Worsley Brass Band headed the procession, which marched round the lawn, and shortly afterwards the ceremony crowning the queen was performed by Lady Algernon Egerton, the band playing the“National Anthem.”
Dressing the May-pole was the next item, and after this the procession reformed and marched out of
the field. In the evening dramatic performances were given in the schoolroom attached to the church, after which there was a brilliant display of fireworks, the grounds being beautifully illuminated by some hundreds of coloured lights; two rows of Japanese lanterns were placed in front of the throne, and the whole of the wood close by was illuminated with coloured fire.
Written by Paul Speakman, Worsley