This film is part of Free

Helston Furry Day

The Floral Dance at Helston Furry Day

Non-Fiction 1953 5 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


Annually on 8 May, Helston Furry Day, Flora Day or the Feast of St Michael celebrates the passing of winter and the arrival of spring. The Furry Dance is performed five times throughout the day. Once at 7am, the Hal-an-Tow pageant at 8am, the children’s dance at 10am, a midday dance and a dance in the evening at 5pm.  The midday dance was for the gentry, who, adorning top hat and tails and best frocks, would cast out old for new.

The Hal-an-Tow means hoist the roof or literally pull on the rope because it transferred to Cornish sailors from the Dutch. The Pageant has revellers re-enacting historical and mythical themes of good defeating evil: Robin Hood and Little John; the Spanish; St George and St Michael all feature in the Hal-an-Tow, Jolly rumble O song. The verse of Aunt Mary Moses believed to mean God Bless Prince Charles in support of the Royalist Cavaliers against Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarians or Roundheads, is no longer sung.