Helston Flora Day
Central to the day are the numerous dances which wend their way through the streets, and in and out of various buildings and houses, known as the Helston Furry Dance. There are four in total, starting with one at 7am which would have originally been for those Helston dwellers in service in the large houses, so that they might resume their duties straight afterwards. Dancers are traditionally dressed in their Sunday best, the men in shirt and tie and the women in summer dresses.
At 10am, it is the turn of the town’s children who dance merrily, accompanied like the other dances by the town band. Again, they are well-dressed, the boys wearing a tie in the colours of their school and their partner sporting matching-coloured flowers in their hair.
By this time the scene has been well and truly set for the main dance of the day, which sets off from the town hall at midday. Again the couples, the men in top hats and tails and the women in best dresses and hats which wouldn’t be out of place at Ascot, spin and glide their way up the main street, through the houses, churches and gardens to the Flora Dance tune. The leading couple must both be Helstonians born and bred, for it is a hallowed role in the traditions of the day.
Obviously, besides the dances there is a host of other activity in Helston on this day - some take rowing boats out on the lake, others enjoy fair rides and candy floss, and many enjoy a good drink in one of the local hostelries – the most famous being the Blue Anchor on the main street, where the brave sup its infamous strong beer Spingo, often entertained by a selection of local bands.
photos courtesy John Stedman - Sundial Photographics