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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
LocationSouth Marston
CountyWiltshire
Source PrimaryWSRO: 2598/36 Packet 4 - Wiltshire: Williams, A: MS collection No Wt 509
Source SecondaryWilliams, A: Wiltshire village p 243, 244
Recording
 
The Play
Characters

Fool, King George, Slasher, Doctor, Devil,

Fool

Room, room, good people, give us room to sport,
For to this room we wish now to resort;
Resort and repeat to you our merry rhyme,
For, remember, good sirs, this is Christmas time.
The time to cut up goose pies now doth appear,
So we are come to act a little of our merry Christmas here.

King George and Slasher fight

Fool

Doctor, doctor, where bist thee?
King George is wounded in the knee.

Enter Doctor

Doctor

… the itch, the pitch, the palsy or the gout;
If a man got nineteen devils in him, I'll cast twenty out.
Here, drink out of my bottle,
And let it run down thy throttle;
If thou be not quite slain,
Rise up and fight again.

Others entered and fought with swords

Enter Devil

Devil

In come I, little Devil Doubt,
If you don't give me money, I'll sweep you all out.
Money I want, money I crave,
If you don't give me money, I'll sweep you all to the grave.

 
Print Play Verse
 
Notes
Only a fragment of the play appears in a Wiltshire Village. The preamble to Chapter 12 is:

Decline of village sports – The old club festival – Highworth Fair – Hiring – Cherry Feast – Valentine’s Day – The rough band – Bonfire night - Mumming – An old time snake hunt – Quoits – Miscellaneous games – The village parliament – Electoin time – Births, marriages and deaths.

The passage follows:

A short while before Christmas preparations were made for mumming. There were half a dozen or more performers required top make the company. These dressed up in costumes and wore masks. One was King George, another was the doctor; besides these were represented the Prince, Slasher, a fool, and the devil. First of all the players went to a house and asked if they would like to see the mummers play. If the occupants were agreeable, the mumming proceeded. The fool enetered first and craved room for the players:

Room, room, good people, give us room to sport,
For to this room we wish now to resort;
Resort and repeat to you our merry rhyme,
For, remember, good sirs, this is Christmas time.
The time to cut up goose pies now doth appear,
So we are come to act a little of our merry Christmas here.

After this request, King George and the Slasher came in and fought, and then the doctor was summoned:

Doctor, doctor, where bist thee?
King George is wounded in the knee.

Hereupon the doctor came in, who could cure

The itch, the pitch, the palsy or the gout;
If a man got nineteen devils in him, I’ll cast twenty out.
Here, drink out of my bottle,
And let it run down thy throttle;
If thou be not quite slain,
Rise up and fight again.

After this others entered and fought with swords and last of all the devil came

In come I, little Devil Doubt,
If you don’t give me money, I’ll sweep you all out.
Money I want, money I crave,
If you don’t give me money, I’ll sweep you all to the grave.

There was also a party of mummers who came from St Margaret, and who were better taught than those of the village. Sometimes these came in contact at the farm-houses, but, though they were very jealous of each other, there was no unpleasantness.

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2013.

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