Past and Present
Combe, Oxfordshire - old postcard
This village takes its name from the celtic word for valley, commonly found in the West Country (cwm in Welsh), and signifies a village at the bottom of a valley or between two hills.
Combe has a Perpendicular church, dating to about 1395. It includes a mid-fourteenth century canopied niche, decorated with ballflower, taken from the previous village church. There is a fifteenth century mural in the church showing a kneeling angel bearing the text of the angelic salutation. Christine Peters (Women in early modern Britain, 1450-1640 (2004), also draws attention(p.53 and p.72) to a mural depiction of a woman having her breast fondled by a demon as she is dragged to hell.
G.F. Northall's English Folk Rhymes (1892) records that:
'At Combe in Oxfordshire, troops of little girls, dressed up fantastically, parade the village, carrying sticks, to the top of which are tied bunches of flowers, and singing the following song:-'
"Gentlemen and ladies,
We wish you a happy May;
We've come to show our garlands,
Because it is May Day."
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