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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Play Information

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TitleMummers' play
Alternative Title
WordsMarsh, [Mrs]
Collected FromUnknown
Occupation
Age
Date
LocationHorningsham
CountyWiltshire
Source Primary
Source SecondaryOliver, Edith: Moonrakings – a little book of Wiltshire stories Coates and Parker n.d. p 60, 61
Recording
 
The Play
The characters are:- Father Christmas, Little Man Jack, St. George and some others - I cannot recall them now.

It starts:-

[Father Christmas]

In comes I, old Father Christmas;
Christmas, or Christmas not,
I hope old Father Christmas
Will never be forgot.
All in this room there shall be shown
The dreadfullest scenes that ever were known
Although our talent is but small,
We'll do our very best to please you all.

[Little Man Jack]

In comes I, Little Man Jack,
A wife and family at my back.
Out of eight I got but five,
And Im afraid they'll be starved alive.
Some to the Workhouse they are gone.
The rest will go when I get home.
Although my body is but small,
I'm the biggest rogue among you all.

[St. George]

In comes I, St. George,
St. George, that man of courage bold.
It was I who killed the fiery Dragon,
That came trampling over the hills to me
Fought with him right and left,
And, with my sword drawn in
My hand, I chopped off his head.

It finishes:-

Ladies and gentlemen, we've come here
Tonight to show you pleasures and pastimes,
And we hope you'll tap us a hug of
Your old Christmas Ale and ask
St. George to have the first sup.
 
Print Play Verse
 
Notes
Mrs Marsh - 'At one time Mumming was very familiar in the parish. Several young men of the village used at Christmas time to traverse the village and outlying villages causing merriment and fun.

Their dress consisted of gaily-coloured suits of clothes [coloured braid being used for trimming], and cockade hats made of cardboard and paper streamers; their weapons being wooden swords gaily painted to match the costumes. Each man took his own particular part. One would be St. George, another Father Christmas. Little Man Jack, King Tipple and so on. Little Man Jack was the villain of the piece.

It is now over thirty years since there have been Mummers in the village; the custom has entirely died out, a good many now living in the village never having seen them.

Hand bell ringing took the place of mumming, and this is now being abandoned.'

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2008.

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