According to a report by Dave Stevens our local village historian Garland Day was first described in Hutchins history of Dorset published in 1867. (see previous blog entry Herald the spring its Garland Day - the custom of Abbotsbury's Garland)
In those days the wives of the fisherman using flowers collected by the children made the garlands.
The floral tributes were then paraded around the village and pennies eagerly collected by the children.
Dave has an archive of old photos of this village tradition.
The garland was then taken down to Abbotsbury Beach and tossed into the sea, with ceremony, to ensure a good years fishing. Seine fishing being a major source of income for the villagers then.
In 1993, the Swannery 600 took place in Abbotsbury the garland was indeed taken to the beach as part of a theatrical performance by Theatre of the Heart.
This took place through the fields of the village and down to the beach where a young woman, gauzily dressed in green, threw the garland into the waves.
I seem to remember that the weather was far from kind that day.
Today two garlands are paraded keeping the old custom alive.
In the past one was of wild flowers and the other of garden flowers, however in recent years bearing in mind conservation, the garland makers use only those from village gardens.
Today monies raised are given to charity and the garland placed by the War Memorial.
Claire James with her children Max and Shannon and Oliver Matthews brought one garland to our house at west end. We had relatives staying who were thrilled to bits.
Well-done ladies for organising this. The garlands were beautiful.