Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

More on cherry laurel

The following notes provide a supplement to the note ‘Uses of Cherry Laurel’, posted on 31 December 2010.

Thursday 5 December [1805, Over Stowey, Somerset].  On my getting up I found no Laurel [Prunus laurocerasus] had been got ready for the Thanksgiving Day for Lord Nelson’s Glorious Victory …  ordered Laurel to be put at the Gate and put a sprig in my hat and gave other sprigs to the family. In a short time most of the Parish had laurel in their hats and the Church was adorned with Laurel [Jack Ayers (ed.), Paupers & Pig Killers: The Diary of William Holland, A Somerset Parson, 1799-1818 (2003): 122].

A second entry in Holland’s diary, on 4 July 1813, presumably refers to the use of laurel to celebrate victories: ‘The Post came down from London with Laurels. I had a letter from William [Holland’s son] which gave the particulars of the great Victory of the Marquis of Wellington in Spain on the 21 of June at Vitoria.’

[Describing coronation decorations on 12 May 1937] Mr Stucley gave abundance of laurels. Mr P. Beer, for the Harton Town Trust, fetched three lorry loads and well dressed electric and telegraph poles, etc. Laurels were extensively used in very varied and artistic schemes. The letters of a motto on the house of that name were appropriately formed of laurel leaves. Everybody seemed to be ‘doing their bit’ [Hartland (north Devon) Times 156: 39, March 2007].

86-year-old Cedric Robinson has been asked to retire from being the Queen’s Guide who leads walkers across the quicksands of Morecambe Bay, Lancashire, a post which he has held for 56 years.  His successor, 46-year-old Michael Wilson, ‘says he will stick with Robinson’s method of marking the route with laurel bushes the day before each walk, “even though” – don’t tell Cedric – “you don’t really need them if you’ve got GPS”‘ [Guardian, 13 April 2019].

Image:  Nunhead Cemetery, London Borough of Southwark, March 2023.

Updated 5 March 2023.

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