The Teddington Maypole Battle
Murder round the maypole...
The maypole danceMaypole dancing is an old tradition celebrating spring.
The first maypole strings were vines or springy twigs knotted together to form a long leafy ribbon. Later they were made of string with leaves attached. Today they are made with pretty silk ribbons in soft colours. May blossom was placed on top of the pole, and worn as garlands by the girls.
The girls danced around the maypole and in and out of the ribbons to make a pattern. Each town or village had their own very individual pattern. If the pole was plaited well and the girls danced without breaking any of the ribbons, it would bring great good luck to the village.
A local custom turns nasty
Maypole dancing was common in our local riverside villages. Local gossip records that it was a custom "in thees country towns for the young men to steel the Maypoale from one to the other".
And so, late one night in May 1710, a group of youths from Twickenham attempted to seize the maypole from Teddington. John Roust from Teddington was hit on the head with a wooden staff. He died of his wound a few weeks later.
Three Twickenham youths were accused of murder but were acquitted.