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Village crowns a new queen

PUBLISHED: 17:46 05 May 2010 | UPDATED: 15:39 16 August 2010

TRADITION: Chislehurst May Queen parade dressed in their finery to celebrate the first day of May.

TRADITION: Chislehurst May Queen parade dressed in their finery to celebrate the first day of May.

HUNDREDS gathered to watch the crowning of the 87th Chislehurst May Queen during a traditional May Day celebration

HUNDREDS gathered to watch the crowning of the 87th Chislehurst May Queen during a traditional May Day celebration.

In an event that has been held in Chislehurst since 1923, the May Queen was part of a procession through the High Street on Saturday, finishing with a crowning ceremony on Chislehurst Common.

Organised by the Chislehurst May Queen Society, crowds gathered to watch this year's May Queen, Sophie Anderson, 12, crowned by Laura Ward, the retiring May Queen from last year.

Sophie, of Beechcroft, Chislehurst, said: "I am very happy to be crowned the May Queen. It's a bit scary but I am looking forward to it."

Traffic was brought to a standstill as people lined the streets to watch the procession, led by sea cadets band TS Endeavour and the Chislehurst Invicta Cub Scouts, make its way from Red Hill Primary School to the Common.

One of the organisers of this year's celebrations, Gillian Anderson, mother of the May Queen, said: "It was a fantastic day, everything went really well.

"We were really lucky because the rain held off until after we finished the children's tea party.

"There's a lot to do beforehand, and a lot of fund-raising, as the event costs £1,000."

After the Queen had been crowned and she had performed the traditional act of scattering flowers across the common, there was Maypole dancing and a performance from the Morris Minors of Eltham College.

The Chislehurst May Queen Society started in 1923 when Olive Everist became the first May Queen. Every year since then Chislehurst has crowned a new May queen, only missing one year in 1941 during the Second World War.

After she has been crowned, the May Queen Prince, and her 'Retinue' attend various venues and events where they perform Maypole dances. The May Queen and Prince work their way up through the retinue, increasing in seniority each year they are a member. The most senior girl in the retinue has the choice of being the Queen or Prince.

The society has launched a new website this year, and members want to find photos of as many former May Queens for an online gallery.

Anyone with photos, information or memories can contact the society by visiting www.cmqs.org.uk.

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