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July 27, 2014

Fascinating Vintage Photos Capture May Queen Festivals of Whitelands College From the Early 20th Century

Whitelands College was a teacher training college for women started in the 1840s, one of the first of its kind. In 1881 they held the first of their annual May Queen Festivals. The idea for the Festival had come from the art critic John Ruskin and had been taken up enthusiatically by the Principal of the College John Faunthorpe.

This odd combination of Christian ceremonies with elements of paganism (or rather late Victorian ideas of what constituted paganism) was embraced by the staff and students alike and it became a key part of the College’s identity.

These stunning vintage photographs capture May Queen Festivals of Whitelands College from between the 1900s and 1920s.

Queen Mildred surrounded by her white clad fellow students in 1904.

Queen Elsie. Here is the masque from 1907.

Queen Elsie III enthroned with the 1910 Queen Louise standing in attendance, 1911

Here you can see the dowager Queen Elsie III paying homage to her sucessor Queen Alice in a lightly hand coloured photograph, 1912.

This picture was taken in 1914. The College remained a kind of secluded enclave even during the First World War, although students and staff played a part in the war effort and there was some damage during a Zeppelin raid. For the most part the inhabitants of the College went on with their lives.

The Golden Stair of Happy Service (The Principal, the Two Queens and the Senior Monitors), 1914.

The 1915 Annual.

Fooling around, 1915.

The new Queen Janet I and the former queens, 1919. On Queen Janet’s right is the first Queen, Ellen. Agnes II (1909) sits at the front on the right, and Elsie III is also on the right at the end of the seated row.

Queen Janet in 1919. Her dress shows the influence of post war fashion.

May Day group, 1922. The fake nuns seen in previous masques were still there.

The masque here looks like an amateur theatrical event, or a fancy dress party, 1922.

Queen Sylvia, her predecessor Queen Enid and the Senior Student, 1927.

The bacchanals unconvincing, 1927.

Queen Joan and Queen Edna, 1931.

(via The Library Time Machine)




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