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Rock Ford volunteers will “plant a maypole” to honor our friend and neighbor, Dr. Edward Hand.  Join the fun!  A bagpiper will lead our procession to where we raise the maypole and Rock Ford’s dancers will lead our visitors in traditional maypole dances.  Bring a picnic lunch and spend the day!

The maypole procession and dancing will commence at 10:30, 12:00 and 1:30.

Practiced for generations in countries such as Germany and England, the maypole dance is a spring ritual long known to Western Europeans. Dancing was done around a pole or slender tree garnished with flowers and ribbons.  The maypole was introduced to Edward Hand’s native Ireland by English and Scottish settlers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  In the early 1800’s, an Irish woman gave an account of maypole celebrations which were held “when a number of persons are desirous, for any particular reason, to honour some of their superiors; as for instance, the tenants of an estate for any act of favour shown them by the landlord, or the like…by planting a maypole before his door.”  The dances performed were “really a very pretty sight.”

As a civic leader, Ireland native Dr. Edward Hand was known to be compassionate and sensitive to the needs of Lancaster’s poor, and he treated many patients without charge.  He was among the community leaders calling for “an act to provide for the erection of houses for the employment and support of the Poor in Counties of Chester and Lancaster.”   The act required the election of six reputable citizens to serve as directors, and Hand was among those elected. The resulting Lancaster Almshouse and Hospital was built of stone and still stands.

Image: A painting circa 1750 in Elmbridge Museum, Weybridge, May Pole Dancing

Join us for this traditional celebration of the arrival of Spring with period dancing around the Maypole, games, music, open hearth cooking demonstrations, mortar demonstrations by the 1st Regiment Flying Camp of Lancaster, and guided tours of the mansion (see below). The Equestrian Team from Millersville University will be riding on the ground during the event and demonstrating what they do in competitions. In addition, Meduseld Meadery will have a selection of their hand-crafted meads available for purchase. All outdoor activities are free and open to the public and also weather permitting.

Open House Tours of the mansion will be from 10 am until 3 pm. The mansion closes at 3 pm. There is an admission charge for the Open House Tour.  No reservations required.  Admission: $5 per person. Free for children 5 and under.