Today was Golcar Lily Day in my village and each year people come together to celebrate the day with music, street activities, a market and this year a miniature railway along with various other enjoyable activities.
Golcar is a relatively small village, but it has a long history. Named after St Guthlac, who preached in the area during the 8th century, its name is recorded in the Domesday Book as Goullakarres. During the Industrial Revolution Golcar became an important centre for weaving. Internationally renowned pharmacologist James Burrows grew up in the area.
‘LILY’ has long been associated with the village of Golcar. There are so many explanations of how the word came to be associated with the village, almost every family have their own interpretation.
Lily of the Valley allegedly grew in some profusion in the Colne Valley, before the Industrial Revolution; the faces of the young women of the Valley being burnt by the wind, some have even suggested it was the name of a local stagecoach!
When John Wesley rode into Huddersfield, he was famously taken aback by the savage nature of the inhabitants – he felt the people of Golcar were “as gentle as Lilies when compared with the uncouth & ignorant peoples of Bolster Moor & Scapegoat Hill”
Most academics now accept, the ‘Lily’ was imported with the Huguenot peoples from France, persecuted throughout the 16th Century. The Huguenots fled France following ‘The Massacre of St Bartholomew’, 24th August 1572. The religious wars lasted for some 30years, & although the Huguenots were “protected” by the ‘EDICT OF NANTES’ ,granted by Henry VI; when Louis XIV, the Sun King, became King of France the persecutions began again. Resulting in some 40,000 souls leaving to settle in England. An early case of ethnic cleansing!
A number discovered the sparsely populated Colne Valley, where the hills & valleys reminded them of their homelands. The Huguenots famed for their weaving of textiles & tapestries, found a ready market in the Colne Valley for their skills with the abundance of raw materials. The Lily is the emblem of the Huguenot peoples, & as a result the Lily became the emblem of the area.
It was incorporated into the village standard around 1817, which corresponds with the historians earliest known use of the ‘Lily’, in a newspaper report of August 17th 1817. So today the local people turned out in force to support various charities and generally have a good time. There was a jazz band playing (students from the local university I was told), parents and children lying on the road whilst others drew around them with chalk (no I don’t understand either!), face painting and stall offering various games including “pig racing,” stilt walkers and the smallest police car I have ever seen.
The weather was kinder this year and we did have some sun shine breaking through very grey clouds at times but all in all a very enjoyable afternoon.
Photos (c) Kindadukish (copies available on request)