Historic Knutsford May Day
Prince and Princess of Wales made it a Royal celebration in 1887

Knutsford's Royal May Day celebrations are part of an English tradition.
The "modern" Knutsford May Day was inaugurated by the Rev Robert Clowes in1864 when Annie Sarah Pollitt was chosen as Queen of the May and Thomas Mullin as her crown bearer.

The prefix "Royal" was bestowed after the ceremony was witnessed by the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1887. The following is an extract from The Times, of May 4, 1887:

"The Prince and Princess of Wales left Tatton Hall for Manchester yesterday. 'I'heir Royal Highnesses, accompanied by Lord Egerton drove through Tatton Park in a landau with four bays and accompanied by out-riders.

A drive of three miles brought them to the great gate close to the little town of Knutsford. The people of this quaint old English place, whose sanded devices had been effaced by the feet of hundreds of sightseers on the previous day, had been at work very early in the morning with their funnels and sand, and one could again read upon the highway the emblems and sentences of loyalty.

'I'he journev through Knutsford the previous day had been via King-street and the return was through Princess-street. The principal public interest of yesterday was therefore concentrated upon the latter and upon the presentation of a bouquet to the Princess by the May Queen of Knutsford, who with her courtiers and other attendants was seated upon a throne raised in front of the Town Hall.

On the Royal carriage arriving opposite the'l'own-hall the Prince and Princess were greeted with the most enthusiastic cheering by the thousand assembled.

The Queen of the May, Miss Mary Ellen Howarth, who was dressed in cream satin, advanced from her throne; along a crimson carpeted approach, to the carriage and presented the Princess with a bouquet composed principally of the beautiful orchid odontoglossum Alexandra.

The Princess spoke to the child for a few minutes, and Lord Egerton then beckoned to Mr Nicholls the chairman of the May Day Festivities Committee, to come forward, and the Prince and Princess conversed with him regarding the quaint old May Day customs which have been revived in Knutsford for some years.

During this conversation the retitiue of the May Queen were ranged round her, including six maids of honour, two pages, crown bearer, sceptre bearer, a number of miziiature beef'eaters, Court clowns, and other characters.

Her Royal Highness readily acceded to the request that she would witness the crowning of the May Queen, and Master Holt, the crown bearer, then advanced and placed the crown upon the head of her mimic majesty amid much cheering.

At the conclusion of the ceremony the Prince granted permission to the committee to add the title of Royal to the Knutsford May Day sport. Their Royal Highnesses then proceeded to the station amid renewed cheering.

The special train which had brought the Royal party from London had been drawn up alongside the platform, under the superintendence of Mr Meldrum, the general manager of the Cheshire Lines Railway.

The Prince and Princess were accompanied in the saloon by Lady Sefton and Lord Egerton, and at 1O.55 the train steamed out of Knutsford on its way to Manchester amid great enthusiasm from the crowd assembled outside the station."