Paper Flowers

As you walk through the archway into the chapel of St Betram, in the Church of the Holy Cross, IIam in Staffordshire, you notice these.

 

They are Maidens’ Garlands and relatively few churches in England are thought to have surviving examples. It’s thought they may have been used during the funeral service of an unmarried woman, but there is evidence in other parts of the country that they may have been made for young men too.  Further information can be found in this article in the Birmingham Post a few years ago, but most importantly there is the work undertaken by Rosie Morris who as a child saw garlands hanging from hooks in her church in Shropshire and wondered what they were. Years later having been unable to find much information on them, decided to make them the subject of her dissertation and later Phd. Rosie’s website on Maidens’ Garlands is here.

Not only do I think the garlands and the stories attached to them are of interest, I also really like the idea that Rosie’s curiosity for an object she saw as a child led to her doing such great work to research and share this tradition.

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9 thoughts on “Paper Flowers

  1. There used to be one hanging in a church at Barrow in Furness, outside the town centre, on the road out to the coast I think. I don’t know if is still there or not, and I can’t even remember the name of the church, but I thought it was tremendously sad. I remember being told it was for a girl who died before she was married, and I believe it dated back to the 19th century.

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    • Thanks Christine. I wonder how widespread the custom was? Just because a church doesn’t have a surviving garland, doesn’t mean it wasn’t a tradition there. I wonder whether this was a country wide thing or was something associated with particular places?

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  2. Kate,st Peters Church Elford is another Church that has a tribute to a tragic loss
    a bunch of dried flowers hang on a wall ,The flowers are said to be a bride’s bouquet
    that was drowned crossing the river on her wedding day,The Church also has the
    Stanley monument a boy who was killed by a tennis ball in the 15 th centuary he
    is holding the ball with one hand pointing to his temple with his other hand.

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    • Thanks for the article on the Stanley Boy, I had seen that before. It’s a really interesting theory and shows that even the best known stories might not be all they seem!

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  3. I am interested in anyone having any information on the garlands in St Peter’s Church, Elford or those outside Barrow in Furness. In both cases, I was not aware of these churches. I have had to take Leave of Absence from my PhD but am now back into research mode. Thanks Rosie

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    • That’s good to hear Rosie. Found your research fascinating & if anything on maidens garlands ever comes to light in these parts I will let you know. Will try & find more from the people who mentioned those two churches in the meantime.

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  4. Just wondering if you had had any luck tracing any more information for Elford and Barrow in Furness??
    Hope to hear from you soon
    Rosie

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    • Sorry Rosie, missed this one! No I haven’t had any luck but I did find a list in a book of all the places where Maiden’s Garlands still exist. You prob know them already but in case not, Abbotts Ann, Hampshire; Ashford in the Water, Derbyshire; Astley abbots, Shropshire; Beverley, East Riding; Great Musgrave, Cumbria; Matlock, Derbyshire; Minsterley, Shropshire; Oxhill, Warwickshire; Springthorpe, Lincolnshire; Theydon Mount, Essex; Trusely, Derbyrshire; Walsham le Willows, Suffolk and Warcop, Cumbria.

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      • I also have found a snippet in The Derby Evening Telegraph 28/12/1932 which says “…most of us are familiar (with) the practice of hanging garlands of flowers in some peakland churches at the funeral of an unmarried girl. These garlands are often allowed to remain in position for month, even years”.I thought this might be interesting as it shows the custom was still around in the 1930s, in the Peak District at least.

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