Appleton Thorn village is the only village in England where the ‘Bawming of the Thorn’ ceremony takes place. This celebration occurs on the third Saturday in June each year.
The thorn tree, which stands beside the church, is believed to be an offshoot of the Glastonbury thorn, which grew from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea. Adam de Dutton, a knight of the Crusades and local landowner, brought it to Appleton.
Bawming, which means, “decorating the tree with flowers and ribbons”, takes place each year, whilst local children dance and sing the Bawming song, which is sung to the tune of “Bonnie Dundee”:
The Bawming Song
The Maypole in spring merry maidens adorn,
Our midsummer May-Day means Bawming the Thorn.
On her garlanded throne sits the May Queen alone,
Here each Appleton lad has a Queen of his own
Up with fresh garlands this Midsummer morn,
Up with red ribbons on Appleton Thorn.
Come lasses and lads to the Thorn Tree today
To Bawm it and shout as ye Bawm it, Hooray!
The oak in its strength is the pride of the wood,
The birch bears a twig that made naughty boys good,
But there grows not a tree which in splendour can vie
With our thorn tree when Bawmed in the month of July.
Kissing under the rose is when nobody sees,
You may under the mistletoe kiss when you please;
But no kiss can be sweet as that stolen one be
Which is snatched from a sweetheart when Bawming the Tree.
Ye Appleton Lads I can promise you this;
When her lips you have pressed with a true lover’s kiss,
Woo’ed her and won her and made her your bride
Thenceforth shall she ne’er be a thorn in your side.
So long as this Thorn Tree o’ershadows the ground
May sweethearts to Bawm it in plenty be found.
And a thousand years hence when tis gone and is dead
May there stand here a Thorn to be Bawmed in its stead.
Here’s a video of the celebration: