st james' gardens

Kirn baby or corn dolly, a harvest festival decoration at the Church of St James the Great, near Aslackby, Lincolnshire, Great Britain. Photo © by Maigheach-gheal and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons.

Photographer’s text, in part: “As it was considered unlucky to cut the last sheaf of the harvest, the growing stems were plaited into a corn dolly and felled by the reapers’ thrown sickles. The dolly was then dressed and garlanded, carried home in procession and kept through the winter in the farmhouse or church to ensure a good harvest next year. The custom was a survival of pagan rites[….] These appeased the corn spirit or fertility goddess who took her final refuge in the last sheaf.

"Variously called the kirn baby, the mare, hag or maiden, the dolly was woven into many elaborate shapes.”