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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Play Information

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TitleMummers' play
Alternative Title
WordsJones, W H [Rev]
Collected FromUnknown
Occupation
Age
Date
LocationAll Cannings
CountyWiltshire
Source Primary
Source SecondaryWiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine Vol. 11, 1869 p 33
Recording
 
The Play
No text
 
Print Play Verse
 
Notes
The practice of 'mumming' at Christmas is not yet extinct in All Cannings. A number of stout lads having their faces daubed with paint, and wearing high conical straw or paper caps, in which are stuck the feathers of cocks, and sometimes peacocks, go round to the different houses in the village. They then recite some doggerel lines and the scene terminates in a supposed combat between St. George and a Turkish Knight. The ceremony commences with a challenge on behalf of Saint [or as the lads will have it, 'King'] George, to anyone who will fight with him. The challenge is accepted by the Turkish Knight who exclaims

I'll fight King George, the man of courage bold
And if his blood be hot, I will soon make it cold.

The Knight presently falls, and the conqueror, turning to the spectators says,

And be there all a doctor to be found
To cure this man lyin' bleedin' on the ground.

Then a new character, called upon under the familiar name of Jack Neat, steps forward, exclaiming

My name is not 'Jack Neat', my name is 'Mister Neat',
A famous doctor lately come from Spain
I cures the sick, and makes 'em well again;
I carr's a little bottle by my side,
'Noints the collar-bone of the neck, and the temple of the eye:
Rise up, Sir Knight, and fight King George again.

This terminates the performance, which is, it is believed, much the same in other surrounding parishes.

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2008.

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