The Royal Burgh of Lanark Crest
Lanark Lanimers - One of Scotland's Oldest Traditions Lanimer Mascot - Larry Lanimer Mascot - Bonnie

An ancient celebration held within the Royal Burgh of Lanark on the Thursday between the Sixth and Twelfth days of June annually since the year 1140.

A Perfect Venue for a Crowning

Fifty years ago this year I was chosen as the Lanimer Queen for 1957.1 was fourteen years old and attended St Mary's School. I was aware at this young age of what an honour it was to be chosen as the Lanimer Queen-elect.

I still recall that day when the voting took place. I received the good news after the votes had been counted. I ran all the way from the school, to our home in the Wellgate, to share the wonderful news with my family My Mum and I were crying with joy. All the family were so proud of me, and equally excited. My cousin, Eleanor Diplacito (mother of last year's Lord Cornet), and my best friend, Winnie Shearer, were my Chief Maids of Honour.

The time leading up to the Lanimers was hectic. I had to go in and out of Glasgow, to Muirheads, where my silver brocade dress was being made. That journey may seem nothing nowadays, but it was a big thing then. It was the custom for Stead and Simpson, one of the shoe shops in the High Street, to give the Lanimer Queen her shoes. They gave me silver brocade shoes to match my dress.

My first big Lanimer duty was attending the Lanimer Ball. The Lord Cornet, Mr John Hume, and my Crowning Lady, Mrs Cummings, the doctor's wife, were at the Ball, and were both very kind and helpful. It was a night I'll always remember. You couldn't help feeling a bit overwhelmed, but it was wonderful.

When Lanimer morning came, all the family were as high as kites - except me! I seemed to be the calmest person in the house, and just got on with cleaning out the fire in the front room. My brother Brian had just joined the RAF, but, luckily, he got special leave for my big day. The whole family was there and all very excited.

I was picked up at the house and taken to the top of St Leonard Street. I watched everyone else leave in their cars and on their horses. My Champion was ahead of me, with two of the Outriders. The other two Outriders were positioned behind my open car, which was huge. My little Page Boys sat together in the front seat. We joined in with the huge procession in front of us and went round Lanark. It was a glorious day, and I couldn't stop smiling. I could hear people calling to me and just waved. There were so many in the streets.

When we reached the Cross after the second time down the High Street, I started to feel nervous. I had never done this before. I had never walked up to the top of the steps before. It was the one thing you couldn't practice. Once I started along the red carpet with my First Lord, the nerves went, and I was back to soaking up and enjoying this special day. When I reached the top and turned round, the view was a sea of people. It was absolutely breathtaking; a perfect venue for a crowning to take place. I was crowned by Mrs Cummings, and received my sceptre and sword. I tried to listen to who had won all the trophies. The noise of the cheering was really loud, but it all felt amazing.

After the Crowning I was driven with the Court to the playground of Lanark Grammar School in Hyndford Road. There were children in costume, from the procession, walking all along the way up the Wellgate. I then sat, flanked by Eleanor and Winnie, and presented the medals, as the children passed in what seemed like well organised single file. In the early part of the afternoon we visited the hospitals to see the local people who were unable to be in Lanark for the procession. Eleanor, Winnie and I did manage to slip off to the Shows for a wee while, before we had to get ready for the next part of the day.

The Reception was held in the Memorial Hall, on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The hall was full each night. We sat as all the characters were presented at the start, then we did a Court Dance. The second half started with us dancing again, and we came back onto the stage right at the end of the night. I enjoyed every minute.

Looking back on my life since then I have had many wonderful experiences, but being crowned Lanimer Queen, and holding the Sceptre, in 1957, is a memory I reflect upon and hold dear, as a prominent feature of my life. This year will bring back particular memories, as I have quite a bit in common with this year's Lanimer Queen-elect. Like Jenna, I went to St Mary's, and like her, I ran home to the Wellgate when I was chosen, and left from there to be crowned.

When I was asked to contribute to this year's brochure it reminded me of one rather poignant thing about my Lanimer experience in 1957; my dress. As my family and I grew up and moved around, somehow that silver brocade dress disappeared when the family had left the Wellgate. It had been wrapped up safely in black tissue paper but it is now lost. Maybe somebody who knew us has an idea what happened to it. It would really make my Lanimers, fifty years on, if I could see it again.

For this year, I would like to take this opportunity to wish Jenna McLellan 'Good Luck' for her own special day, and extend to family, friends and the people of Lanark a 'Happy Lanimers' to everyone for 2007.

Rita (Mann) Fraser