On The Day

The Preparation

During the previous evening, oak and other greenery are fixed to all but one of the pinnacles on the church tower. Sweet-smelling flowers, preferably wild, are gathered for covering the Garland frame the next day. But with environmental friendliness in mind, many of the flowers today come from the village gardens, wallflowers, peonies, lilac, laburnum, lily-of-the valley, as well as cow parsley and rhododendrons etc.

Garland Day dawns and preparations are made to dress the beehive frame at Castleton Garage (opposite the Methodist Chapel). This was traditionally carried out by men who tie floral bunches on to the frame – until the whole frame is completely covered in flowers. Meanwhile the ladies are making the “Queen” posy which fits into the top of the completed Garland. From 12 noon the Garland and Queen posy are made at Castleton Garage and you are invited to watch the progress. They are also on display during the afternoon.

Making the Garland

Starting with the Oak leaves

Starting the Queen also with Oak

Trying the Queen

Nearly finished

Putting up the Maypole

The Ceremony

This begins with the Garland King and his Consort ‘riding the bounds’ i.e. riding around the village boundary on horseback - without the Garland to the host pub.

The Castleton Silver Band is marching, playing the Garland Tune, to the same place, where the dancers are also assembling, along with onlookers, ready for the procession to start at 6.30pm.

The dancers are made up of both girls and boys, the girls usually dressed in white, with posies of flowers on their clothes and in their hair. They each carry a Garland Stick which resembles a miniature Maypole with red, white and blue ribbons.

Before the King and his Consort arrive at the host public house, the Garland is placed directly over the head and shoulders of the King. When the Garland is balanced safely enough, the Band strikes up the Garland Tune and the dancers begin to dance the Garland Step.

The Ceremony takes the form of a procession through the main village streets, led by the Garland King and Consort., first to the eastern boundary at Spital Bridge. There it turns round and heads back up the village, stopping at each public house - six in all - whilst the dancers perform the Circle and Chain Dance.

On reaching the church gates, the King and Consort ride up the church path to the tower. (Please stand out of the way to let the horses pass). The Queen posy is removed from the Garland and whilst still astride his horse, the Garland is attached to a Castleton made rope and hoisted directly from the King’s shoulders to the top of the tower. It is then placed on the front central pinnacle. It remains there for a week or more until the flowers wither and die. Meanwhile the older dancers are gathering round the Maypole in the Market Place where they dance six Maypole dances.

Please may we ask if you would kindly refrain from throwing coins into the dancing circle. There will be collecting tins for your donations.

The King and Consort ride towards the War Memorial joined by the Band and the dancers. Then follows a solemn ceremony, when the King places the Queen Posy at the Memorial to commemorate the people of Castleton who died in the two World Wars.

After the National Anthem the band reforms, striking up the Garland Tune and villagers and visitors follow, dancing the Garland Step or Cross-over Dance, out of the Market Place. That is the end of the Ceremony and people usually disperse to the various public houses, in the happy knowledge that the Ancient tradition has been upheld for another year!

Setting out on the bounds

The Garland sets off

Riding the bounds

Meeting the Silver Band

Placing the Garland on the Kings shoulders


From 12 noon the Garland and Queen posy are made at Castleton Garage and you are invited to watch the progress. They are also on display during the afternoon.

Please note that all times are approximate and vary depending on host pub