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Abbotsbury & the Swannery


Abbotsbury Garland-Day Procession stopped. Chief Constable's Apology to Parish Council.
The Daily Express of May 14, 1954, reported that the village constable of Abbotsbury had stopped the children's Garland-Day Procession as it danced its way through the fishing village to the sea, on the ground that it was "begging" and was against the law. He also confiscated the collection amounting to £1 1s. 7 1/2d. The uproar reached Mr. John Fox-Strangways, Chairman of the parish council and son of the Earl of Ilchester, lord of the manor. He rang up a solicitor and said that the village would take steps to preserve its ancient and picturesque custom. The Thanksgiving Garland is blessed annually and thrown into the sea from whence comes their livelihood. In the evening the children put the Garland on its pole and again danced down to the sea, while the police were busy preparing a legal action.

The Times of May 20 announced that the Chief Constable of Dorset had expressed his sincere apologies for the "unfortunate occurrence" to the Abbotsbury parish council and said that the constable had acted on his own initiative, without the knowledge of the divisional superintendent. "It is no part of my policy to interfere with old village customs," he stated. Mr. Fox-Strangways was authorised to take any necessary action to establish the legality of the Garland Day custom.
Proof that the Express has been complaining about Political Correctness for decades. p175 in Folk Life and Traditions
E. F. Coote Lake
Folklore, Vol. 65, No. 3/4. (Dec., 1954), pp. 172-175.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
27th March 2007ce
Edited 27th March 2007ce

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