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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Play Information

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TitleMummers' play
Alternative Title
WordsCarrington, F A
Collected FromUnknown
Occupation
Age
Date
Location
CountyWiltshire
Source Primary
Source SecondaryWiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine Vol 1, 1854 p 79 - 81
Recording
 
The Play
The Characters in the Drama performed in Wiltshire are:-

1 Old Father Christmas
2 Mince Pie
3 A Turkish [evidently a Saracen] Knight
4 St. George
5 An Italian Doctor
6 A character called Little Jack:

And the verses they repeat, divested of modern extraneous matter were as follows:

[Enter Father Christmas with a long beard]

Father Christmas

Oh! here come I old Father Christmas, welcome, or welcome not,
I hope old Father Christmas will never be forgot.
Make room! room! I say!
That I may lead Mince Pie this way.
Walk in Mince Pie, and act thy part,
And show the gentles thy valiant heart.

[Enter Mince Pie]

Room! room! ou gallant souls give me room to rhyme,
I'll show you some festivity this Christmas time.

[Enter a Turkish Knight with a wooden sword]

I am a valiant Turkish Knight,
And dare with any man to fight;
Bring me the man that bids me stand,
Who says he'll cut me down with audacious hand,
I'll cut him and hew him as small as a fly,
And send him to Satan to make mince pie.

[Enter St. George with a wooden sword]

St. George

Oh! in comes I, St. George, the man of courage bold,
With my sword and buckler I've won three crowns of gold;
I fought the fiery dragon and brought him to the slaughter;
I won a beauteous Queen - a King of Egypt's daughter:
If thy mind is high, my mind is bold,
If thy blood is hot, I'll make it cold.

[St. George and the Turkish Knight fight - the latter falls]

Turkish Knight

Oh! St. George spare my life!

Father Christmas

Is no Doctor to be found
To cure this man who's bleeding on the ground.

[Enter the Doctor]

Doctor

Yes! an Italian Doctor's to be found
To cure the Knight who's bleeding on the ground:
I cure the sick of ev'ry pain,
And raise the dead to life again.

Father Christmas

Doctor, what is thy fee?

Doctor

Ten pounds is my fee,
But fifteen I must take of thee
Before I set this gallant free.

Father Christmas

Work thy will Doctor.

Doctor

I have a little bottle by my side
The fame of which spreads far and wide,
I drop a drop on this poor man's nose.

[The Doctor touches the Turkish Knight's nose, and he instantly springson his quite recovered]

[Enter Little Jack, a dwarf, with several dolls strapped to his back]

Little Jack

Oh! in come I, little saucy Jack,
With my wife and family at my back.
Christmas comes but once a year,
And when it does it brings good cheer:
Roast beef, plum pudding, and mince pie,
Who likes that any better than I?
Christmas ale makes us dance and sing;
Money in a purse is a very fine thing.
Ladies and gentlemen give us what you please.
 
Print Play Verse
 
Notes
F A Carrington - 'In several parts of Wiltshire, groups of persons grotesquely dressed go round from house to house on the morning of Christmas Day, and act a sort of drama, founded on a legend of St. George. There were a few years ago, and probably are still, Mummers at Wootton Rivers, and on Christmas Day, 1852, a party of Mummers came from Avebury, and after performing there, came round to the neighbouring villages , when going from house to house they acted their Drama and after sung a Hymn.

The verses repeated by the Mummers of the different places are all founded on the same origin, but as they are not committed to writing they vary in trifling degree, and have in some instances considerable interpolations.

About fifteen years ago one of my friends applied to different sets of Mummers, and wrote down their verses from their dictation. The interpolations were of course not the same with different sets of Mummers, but the original verses were so - indeed some of the interpolations had references to Napoleon and the French was which ended in 1814, and were easily separated from the original text.'

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2008.

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