Maidens' Garlands

Researched by Rosie Morris

I was born in Minsterley, Shropshire, England in the mid 1950's. Part of my childhood included weekly attendance at HolyTrinity, Sunday School. It was here that I used to gaze up at seven strange objects in plastic bags above our heads.They looked like upside down hanging baskets of moss that were blackened with age; but I felt they had a story to tell.

My enthusiasm for history gained momentum through school years into adult life. I was among the first satellite group of six Shropshire students to complete a first degree with the University of Birmingham ( BA Hons ) in 2001. My research dissertation," The History and Development of Maidens' Garlands within the Context of English Funeral Practice c.1600-1973' gave me the opportunity I needed to investigate those strange objects in my parish church. This was followed up by an article published in December issue 2002, Folklore: " The innocent and touching custom of Maidens' Garlands.  "Then , from my 'maiden' conference ,- a joint conference for Post  -Medieval Archaeology and the Society for Church Archaeology - my paper entitled , ' Maidens' Garlands: A Funeral Custom of Post-Reformation England' was published 2011, in the monograph edited by Chris King and Duncan Sayer, The Archaeology  of Post - Medieval Religion.

 My Master of Philosophy, under the title, Death of the Maiden: The History and Development of the Funeral custom of Virgins' Crowning 1500 - 1995. My methodology has incorporated parish records ,diaries ,interviews with participants and many field trips. In addition, I have extended correspondence with colleagues in North Germany where the practice of crowning is at an advanced stage. Indeed I suspect that the next discoveries will be based on European scholarship fused with our own.

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