The idea of a May Queen was re-introduced by John Ruskin and William Morris at Whitelands College for Women, now part of Roehampton University.
The first photographic evidence of its introduction at Avery Hill is from 1909.
Innocent mind and May Day in girl and boy, Most, O maid’s child thy choice and worthy the winning.
From Spring by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Lilly Evans 1909
Margaret Emler 1910
Notice the trains on the first two May Queens were made from curtains. Their length and richness suggests that they may have been the original curtains from the Drawing Room, Dining Room, Breakfast Room, or Boudoir of the Mansion.
Miss M. Twist 1911
Chrystabel Shorney 1912, with Maids of Honour
1985 saw a major step towards the present University of Greenwich when Thames Polytechnic ‘merged’ with Avery Hill Teacher Training College.
Avery Hill College was opened in 1906, as a non-denominational college for the training of women teachers, in the former mansion of the late Colonel J. T. North a.k.a. ‘The Nitrate King’. Eighty years later it was absorbed into the Polytechnic system, as were many other similar colleges at the time.
To give a taste of the College’s extensive archive in Avery Hill Library here are the covers from our sadly incomplete collection of the college prospectus.
(Note, College evacuated to Huddersfield, West Yorkshire)