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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Play Information

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TitleMummers' play
Alternative Title
WordsKettlewell, David
Collected FromPerrior, Joseph Frederick
Occupation
Age
Date1969
LocationShrewton
CountyWiltshire
Source PrimaryEFDSS VWML Library collection (General) GRQ 25 l/c p 30 - 38 typescript
Source Secondary
Recording
 
The Play
Characters

Johnny Jack
Father Christmas
Prince Albert
Valiant Soldier
Turkish Knight
Doctor
Saint George

Johnny Jack [Knocks on door]

Happy Christmas to you all! Ladies and Gentlemen would you like to see the Wiltshire Mummers?

[All march in]

All sing

Here we are again, Happy as can be,
All good friends and jolly good company.]

Johnny Jack

Ladies and Gentlemen, I introduce you to Father Christmas and his Mummers.

[All except Father Christmas and Jack make arches with swords. Father Christmas walks up and down under the arches with his stick]

All sing

Oh, come all ye faithful [one verse only]

Father Christmas

Oh dear, Oh dear, Oh dear, what a day, what a day, what a day!

Valiant soldier

Hey up old Tammy! Let me help the old man up.

[Father Christmas comes to the fore]

Father Christmas

In comes I, old Father Christmas,
Christmas or Christmas not,
I hope old Father Christmas will never be forgot.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Christmas comes but once a year,
And when it comes it brings good cheer,
Roast Beef, Plum Pudd'n, Mince Pies:
Gi'e I lots of pudd'n!
Pudd'n, pudd'n, pudd'n,
There ain't no bones in pudd'n.
When I were a gert hard boy,
Wi' an appetite nar morsel coy
The best thing that gi'e I joy
Was when mother made a pudd'n!

I introduce you, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all to Prince Albert of Wales.

[All sing - God Bless the Prince of Wales.]

Prince Albert

[Comes fore under Arches]

In comes I Prince Albert, that man of courage bold
Let thy blood run hot or quickly let it run cold.
I fought the fiery dragon, brought it to a slaughter,
And far less won the King of Egypt's daughter.
What mortal man who dares to stand before me with my sword in hand.
I'll cut him small as many flies and send him to Jamaica to make mince pies!
If you don't believe what I say, walk in the Turkish Knight and clear the way
Walk in here the Turkish Knight - act they part,
Show the Ladies and Gentlemen thy valiant art.

Turkish Knight

In comes I the Turkish Knight, just come from my Turkish land to fight
I'll fight thee, Prince Albert, with all my might
Although thou guards the army men.
Army men, merchant men, men o' war -
Many a battle I have been through since Prince Albert reigned our King,
So let thee and I this battle cry, see which on the ground shall lie:
Life for life, sword in hand, if thou are willing, I'm the man.

Prince Albert

Come on thou blood 'n thirsty villain,
If thou slay me dead
I'll have it out.

[They fight, Prince Albert gets wounded, falls to the ground]

Pardon sir!

Turkish Knight

No pardon will I give thee, no money will I pay
Rise up off thy bended knee and have a cut as thou hast before.

[They fight again, Prince Albert falls on the floor]

Turkish Knight

Come on, thou valiant soldier of old England, I'll serve you the same.

[Stands with one leg over Prince Albert.]

All sing

The Soldiers of the Queen

Valiant Soldier

In comes I the Valiant Soldier, bold and brave:
Cut 'em, Slice 'em, is my name:
Sword and buckler by my side, I hope to win this game.

Father Christmas

I hope thee 'ood.

Valiant Soldier

My head is made of iron, my body is made of steel,
I'll fight thee with hand and knuckle bone before I quickly feel.
In comes I, all rags and jags, taking dead men and chopping off legs,
So let thee and I this battle try and see which on the ground shall lie
Life for life, sword in hand, if thou art ready I'm the man!

[They get stuck into it, and he knocks the Valiant Soldier down]

[All sing]

So he whispered goodbye to his comrade so dear
His head on his knap-sack gently lay
And when you get home you can tell 'em I'm gon
And laying in a British Soldier's grave.

Father Christmas

This is a pretty kettle of fish - two of my men wounded!
Oh dear, Oh dear, what hast thou done - thou hast killed and slain my only son
Not to have more to do - Put'n outside the door.

[Johnny Jack flings the Turkish Knight out]

Father Christmas

Is there a noble doctor to be found
To rise these two men lie bleeding on the ground?

Doctor

Oh yes, Oh yes, there is a noble doctor to be found
To rise these two men bleeding on the ground.

Father Christmas

How comest thou to be a Doctor?
Err, all dressed up and nowhere to go
These come from Petticoat Lane.
All thee'st want is a box hat and a frock tail coat.
I don't believe thee. What dost thee cure then Doctor?

Doctor

I can cure the itch, the stitch, the palsy and the gout,
The old devil in - I can bring him out.

Father Christmas

Not all the Doctors … will bring the old devil out of me!
Hows't thee become a Doctor?

Doctor

By my travels.

Father Christmas

Where'st art thou travelled then?

Doctor

Hippity, Skippity, Scotland, Ireland, Spain -
Twice over that and back to old England again.

Father Christmas

My young man, thee'st been a long way!
Well, well, well, you talk so fine, now work thee will.
I don't believe thee's though.

Doctor [Puts hand inside coat]

I've got a bottle of glorious ointment in me pocket -
A drop on the heart, a drop on the forehead -
Arise you two men that lie bleeding on the ground!

[And they didn't get up]

Father Christmas

Ah! Aha! Arr!
What did I tell thee - all dressed up and nowhere to go
All they want is some gymnasium … and a shout o' me.

[Lays them on their stomachs and gives them a good whacking with a bladder, then rolls them over like with a rolling pin]

Arise!

[But they didn't get up]

Oh Doctor, thee and I shall get hung, 'snow -
Thee'st better carry on with thee job.

Doctor

Arise you two men that lie bleeding on the ground

[With that they get up. Pause. Father Christmas looks all round at them and at the Doctor]

Father Christmas

Thee's been and dunnit then.

Doctor

Yes - what I take in hand I can cure.

Father Christmas

Ladies and Gentlemen,
This Turkish Knight has beat Prince Albert and he's beat the Valiant Soldier.
We got a man here now that's going to take away the sword
He'll come in and fight to the bitter end - St. George and old England.

[Enter St. George, sword on right shoulder, left hand on Father Christmas]

All sing

Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves,
Britons never, never shall be slaves.

St. George

In comes I, St. George the great who defies me soon or late
To the earth shall headlong fall before I conquer all.
Famous warrior, also working knight
Seven long years in a closed cave was kept, and there into a prison leapt,
And there I lay my bones. Like a cold block of stone.
First I fought in Portugal, then I fought in Spain,
Thirdly I come to England to fight this Turkish Knight again.

Father Christmas

Come on you Constantinople Turk! Fight 'n out St. George.

[Terrible fight, knocks sword out of Turkish Knight's hand, Father Christmas picks it up.]

Ladies and Gentlemen, the sword won for Britain for ever.

Turkish Knight

Pardon Sir!

[Falls. Father Christmas keeps the Knight's sword. Valiant Soldier, Prince Albert, St. George, Turkish Knight all stand up together in a row, swords on shoulders, Father Christmas comes up the middle.]

Father Christmas

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is only a Christmas play.
Christmas is the time of peace, happiness, goodwill to men.
Hatred, envy and jealousy should be done away.

[All fling swords down]

Men shall beat their swords into pruning hooks, and their spears into plough-shares,
The lion and the lamb shall lie down together and a little child shall lead them,
Come on my lads, we'll get round the ring and sing that old song.

All sing

For old times sake, say you'll forget and forgive,
For old times sake, don't let your enmity live,
Life's too short to quarrel, hearts too precious to break,
Shake hands and let us be friends for old times sake.

Father Christmas

Walk in here Johnny Jack, Act thy part,
Show the ladies and Gentlemen they valiant lot.

Johnny Jack

In comes I, Johnny Jack, with a wife and family at my back,
Out of nine I got but five, and they're almost starved alive,
Some're dead, some're are gone to the workhouse,
And the rest shall go when I get home,
So Ladies and Gentlemen if you have any pity on me and my wife,
Han' out your bread and cheese and give us a knife
An' a drop o' your Christmas ale to make us well sing
Our sport is all ended, the box is recommended.

[All sing Farmer's boy or another suitable song, e.g. Keep right on to the end of the road. Then a dance - Highland Fling from Black Watch '98, with swords. Old fashioned dance - six in a circle, Father Christmas in the middle. Melodeon plus tambourine]
 
Print Play Verse
 
Notes
Note 1

Chris Wildridge - 'In correspondence with David Kettlewell concerning the typescript he says that 'There ain't no boens in pudd'n' in the typescript was an attempt to illustrate pronunciation. It is spelt normally here. Also in the line 'Oh Doctor, thee and I shall get hung, 'snow -' the word 'snow is a contraction of 'thou dost know'.

Note 2

Reproduced by kind permission of David Kettlewell.

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2008.

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