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Dressing the Arbor Tree



The custom of dressing the black poplar growing in Aston-on-Clun in south Shropshire - known as the Arbor Tree - with flags on flagpoles every 29th May is unique in Britain. New flags are attached to wooden flagpoles on the tree that remain throughout the year. Written records of the Arbor Tree only extend back to 1898, but the tradition of dressing the tree is reputed to date back to a local wedding in 1786. The article attempts to establish the history and context to the tradition and demonstrates how the modern custom has acquired new meanings, particularly since the 1955 when a pageant was devised. The pageant and the celebrations associated with the tree dressing are evolving in response to those living in the local community and the external recognition now accorded to this unique tradition. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Folklore on 02 Dec 2010, available online:
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