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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Play Information

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TitleMummers' play
Alternative Title
WordsWilliams, Alfred
Collected FromUnknown
Occupation
Age
Date
LocationLydiard Millicent
CountyWiltshire
Source Primary
Source SecondaryWiltshire Gazette, Thursday, 30 December 1926
Recording
 
The Play
Characters of the piece:

Saint George.
A Valiant Soldier

[Enter the Valiant Soldier with sword of wood]

Valiant Soldier

Here come I the valiant soldier,
Cut 'em and Slash 'em is my name,
With my sword and buckler by my side
I mean to win the game.
My head is not of fire,
My body's not of steel,
But here's courage to my knuckle bone -
I'll fight thee, St George, the valiant field.

St George

Thou fight he, St George, the valiant field,
And with thy courage make him yield!
I fought a mount of fiery dragons together.
And showed we not one feather.

Valiant Soldier

This bold British champion carries the sway.
This Valiant Soldier thou must slay;
Thou must slay or thou must be slew,
One or the other thou must do.
Draw thy sword, or I'll run thee through.

[They draw swords and fight. St George prevails. The Valiant Soldier falls on his knees.]

Valiant Soldier

Down on my bended knee I fall,
Thy pardon do I crave.
And if thou't spare my life, St George,
I'll be thy mortal slave.

St George

Arise, arise, go home and tell
What the bold British champion does in England so well.

[The Valiant Soldier rises.]

St George

Walk in, the Most High Proud.

[Enter the Most High Proud]

Most High Proud

Here come I, the Most High Proud,
And of the King of Spain,
With my glittering sword I'll conquer any knight,
For I mean to cut him and slay him.

St George

Thou Most High Proud and of the King of Spain,
And be thou come here to fight?

Most High Proud

Ah! Bold champion, I think it is my right,
For it is thee I am come for to fight.

St George

Thou Spanish tyrant, I do defy thee,
Although thou hast an army by thee.
Thy fez, thy Kingdom, thy country's right,
Thy life I'll have this very night.
One or the other thou must do,
So draw thy sword or thou shalt be slew.

[They fight. St George wounds the Most High Proud, who falls to the ground.]

St George

This man's dead and his blood is shed,
Pray, whatever will become of me?
Is there a Doctor to be found
To cure this bold champion bleeding on the ground?

[Enter a Doctor]

Doctor

Oh yes, there is a doctor to be found,
To cure this bold champion bleeding on the ground.

St George

What's thy fee, Doctor?

Doctor

Ten pound is my fee,
But fifteen I will take of thee,
Before I set this gallant man free.

St George

Work thy will, Doctor.

Doctor

I have a bottle by my side,
And that is mixed both red and white.
Chop off nettles I'll make them grow without rain,
I can make young children cut their teeth without pain
And raise the dead to life again.
Here, lad, take a drop of this,
Then jump up and fight, and cut and slash again.

[The Most High Proud drinks from the bottle, then rises and cries for Beelzebub.]

Most High Proud

Walk in Beelzebub.

[Enter Beelzebub]

Beelzebub

Here come I, old Beelzebub,
On my left shoulder I carry a big nub,
And in my hand a dripping pan,
Now don't you think I'm a jolly old man?
My father's been and killed a fat hog,
And that you can plainly see;
My mother gave me the bladder,
To make a hurly-ga-gee.
I saw a mouse by yonder wall,
And he ran in, and that was all.

[All]

To my tol the rol, tol the rol the rido.

[Enter Saucy Jack]

Saucy Jack

Here come I, old Saucy Jack,
With all my family on my back.
Christmas comes but once a year,
And when it comes it brings good cheer -
Roast beef, plum pudding and mince pie,
And who likes that any better than I?

[Here St. George and the Tinker quarrel and fight. Tinker sings]

Tinker

Good morning, Moll, and 'ow dost do?
And wher' beest thee agwine?
I got zummat to zay to thee,
If thee cast spare the time.

All - Chorus

Fol the rol the rido, and that's the time of day O.

Tinker

Then if a cuckold I should be,
Thou and I should never agree,
So let us kiss and part, Sweet Moll,
And never wedded be.

All

Fol the rol the rido, and that's the time of day O.

Tinker

Bold Robin Hood was a forester good
As ever drew bow in the merry greenwood,
And the wild deer did follow, did follow.
There's none so bonny, blithe and gay
As Mary, the pride of the morning.
Then in came Little John with his courage so strong,
He conquered them all with his Hey ding dong,
While the bugle horn did echo, did echo,
There's none so bonny, blithe and gay
As Mary, the pride of the morning.

All

St George

He that courts a pretty girl
Courts her for his pleasure:
He is a fool if he marries her
Without store or treasure.
Come, let is dance and sing,
And drive away all sorrow,
For perhaps we may not
Meet again tomorrow.

All

Fol the rol the rido, and that's the time of day O.

Saucy Jack
Away to the greenwood we,
And up to the old oak tree,
And join the gypsy dance.
Happy, happy shall we be,
Happy, happy, three and three,
Dancing now so merrily.

[Here all join hands and sing]

All

Fol the rol the rido, and that's the time of day O.
 
Print Play Verse
 
Notes
Alfred Williams - ... 'Is not this exactly what the mummers used to do in Wiltshire and elsewhere?

It is curious in England mumming was often confused with wassailing. Even at Cricklade something of the kind took place, and we see that the Wassailers of that town dressed in fancy costume and wore coloured ribbons, such as usually done by mummers. But it was not the general rule to dress in gay costume, or to wear any but the ordinary clothes in the local wassail.

As in England mumming was often confused with the wassail; in Ireland it was confused with Morris dancing. The time of year at which the mumming was observed accordingly fell at May Day, or Whitsuntide, instead of at Christmas. The mummers, consisting of young men and women, wore fancy dresses trimmed with ribbon or coloured paper, and they carried drums or tambourines. The clown wore a mask, and others bore holly bushes. The clown also carried a pole, with a bunch of rags at the end, like a mop. These he dipped in pools of water by the wayside, and sprinkled any of the crowd who were within his reach. In our Wiltshire mummer's play we had a bladder tied on a string with which to buffet those who pressed too hard upon the company.

The full explanation of the characters of the Mummers' Play is not easy; but we possess vary good clues. [... ]Their activities were extended or curtailed according to the circumstances, and the degree of hospitality shown by the occupants of the house at which the play was presented.'

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2008.

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