Our History
The Chislehurst May Queen Society started in 1923, founded by Agnes Everist (nee Dickens).  Agnes was born in Crown Lane, Chislehurst in 1885; her father, George, was a bell ringer at St Nicholas Church.  She was approached by members of the Merrie England and London May Queen Festival at Hayes to organise a May Queen ceremony for Chislehurst, to join the growing number of May Queen Realms in the Bromley and Kent area.
 
The Merrie England Festival was founded by Joseph Deedy, a Dulwich schoolmaster, in 1913.  Inspired by the nostalgia of his day for English folklore, pageant and wholesome communal festivities, he devised much of the 
1933 May Queen Betty Pierce
words and pageantry that are still part of the May Queen Crowning ceremonies today.

Agnes Everist's daughter, Olive, was the first Chislehurst May Queen in 1923, followed by her sister, Norah, in 1924.  In 1933 the Chislehurst May Queen Society celebrated its tenth anniversary with the crowning of Betty Pierce (above).

The whole Everist family was involved in organising the Crowning Ceremony in Chislehurst and making the various props.  Agnes also kept a supply of fancy dress costumes to allow any child to enter the fancy dress competition, which was, and still is, held as part of the ceremony.

In 1945 Olive's daughter, Beryl Armstrong, was May Queen.  The Crowning that year was held back until June so that it would be part of the Victory Celebrations.  

Agnes died two days after the ceremony.  She is buried in the Annunciation Churchyard and on her gravestone is written:

“In loving memory of Mrs A Everist from the May Queen and Children
When the children sign and play she shall surely hear them, June 1945"


The family carried on organising the Chislehurst May Queen for a few years afterwards.  Since then the tradition has been maintained by other volunteers within the Chislehurst community. 

In 2004 the Society was delighted to welcome into the May Queen Retinue Agnes' great granddaughter, Ruth Everist.