This film is part of Free
Springtime in an English Village
An extraordinary and unexpected snapshot of rural life in wartime in which a young black girl is crowned Queen of the May.
This extraordinary and unexpected snapshot of rural life in wartime - unseen for years due to the fragility of the materials - documents most ancient of English traditions: the selection and crowning of the Queen of the May. But what is so surprising is that 60 years ago the village of Stanion in Northamptonshire chose to honour a young black girl - apparently the daughter of an African merchant seaman who had been evacuated there during the War.
It's hard to know quite how literally to take the proceedings. The film was made by the Colonial Film Unit for the purpose of screening throughout Britain's African and Caribbean colonies - to demonstrate 'typical' life in the UK - at a time when the government needed to recruit the support of men and women from across the Empire. Later, in the immediate post-War period, such films not only acted to reinforce imperial solidarity, but formed part of a propaganda campaign to attract cheap labour to the UK.