All Things Green Man & The Traditional Jack-in-the-Green

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Green Man in the Garden – By Charles Causley

GREEN MAN IN THE GARDEN

By Charles Causley

 

Green man in the garden

Staring from the tree,

Why do you look so long and hard

Through the pane at me?

 

Your eyes are dark as holly,

Of sycamore your horns,

Your bones are made of elder-branch,

Your teeth are made of thorns.

 

Your hat is made of ivy-leaf,

Of bark your dancing shoes,

And evergreen and green and green

Your jacket and shirt and trews.

 

“Leave your house and leave your land

And throw away the key,

And never look behind,” he creaked,

“And come and live with me.”

 

I bolted up the window,

I bolted up the door,

I drew the blind that I should find

The green man never more.

 

But when I softly turned the stair

As I went up to bed,

I saw the green man standing there.

“Sleep well, my friend,” he said.

 

My thanks to Steven Sherratt for reminding me of this wonderful poem that I last posted nearly ten years ago. As the seasons turn and winter fast approaches I think it is the perfect time to remind ourselves of Charles Causley’s wonderful verse.

Removal of the 4th May Bank Holiday 2020 – Your help is needed!

This is an important message for all of our members and blog followers. You may not be aware that the government has announced that they intend to move the next early May bank holiday from Monday 4th May to Friday 8th May in order to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE day. Whilst we should of course commemorate the victory of democracy over fascism this is an event worthy of a one off additional holiday to honour those involved rather than just moving the traditional bank holiday Monday.

Removing the Monday holiday will affect many traditional events some of which have been carried on since time immemorial across this country. Such events rely upon the availability of participants and audiences, many of whom will be unavailable if the Monday is a working day. For many individuals, businesses and groups planning for the May bank holiday has been  underway for quite some time. Some involve engaging with groups from other countries, who will have their own holiday on 4th May as it happens to be international workers’ day.

May Day was celebrated by working people across Britain and elsewhere long before modern political parties; in fact it is the ancient feast of Beltane. Dancing in the May and celebrating spring predate the Roman Empire.

Across Britain there is a rich collection of events related to the beginning of May; Morris dancing of course on May morning and also Jack in the Green processions, hobby horse processions and others. There is also a standing programme of folk events and festivals around that time. These events provide important income for cafes, pubs, shops, hotels, camping sites at the very beginning of their season after a long lay off for some. They deserve to be allowed to continue without disruption.

John Major’s Conservative Government tried to remove the early May Bank Holiday in 1993. A group made up of representatives of all the active Jacks protested at Parliament. The Rochester Jack danced in Downing Street and the Hastings Bogies (Jack’s mischevious attendants) were allowed access to Parliament in full Bogie costume. It worked and the government of the day backed down.

Please help us send a message to the current government by signing the petition calling for the preservation of the 4th May bank holiday and the adoption of 8th May as a separate one off holiday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE day. You can access the petition HERE or by clicking on the petitions banner below.

Morris teams, individuals and others involved in May traditions will be gathering on College Green Westminster at 11am on 23rd July to protest, dance, meet with MP’s and request that the early May bank holiday is preserved.

MP’s are already taking notice, Helen Whately MP, deputy leader of the Conservative Party, has agreed to meet Gordon Newton, founder of the Rochester Sweeps Festival and reviver of The Bluebell Hill Jack in the Green in the lobby of Parliament on 23rd July. Keith Leech MBE reviver of The Hastings Traditional Jack in the Green will be there and has confirmed that Amber Rudd will come outside the House to meet the group at noon.

You can also write to your MP. You can use THIS LINK to find out your MPs details.

Your support would be very much appreciated, May the 4th be with you!

Green Man – by Tina Negus

TN

 

Green Man.

By Tina Negus

He speaks, and the sound fills the void
with living green, life which sustains all life,
sunlight and leaf: our food.
He tastes the air, savours his speech,
his tongue flicking across the foliage from his gaping mouth.
He recites our stories,
licking myths and legends into existence.
He sings our tunes for us, our wordless songs.

He looks down on his creation from above,
sees all things dependant on his utterance,
regards us with impassivity or amusement: his creatures.
He weeps with us, and his tears nourish our being.
Within his sight, we live our little lives,
relying on his artistry.

He hears our cries, our laughter, listens to his own words,
and to our inadequate imitations of his creativity.
His ears receive our music, our rhythms and rhymes,
make whole our melodies and harmonies.
He tolerates our limitations,
circling, with us, our May-time pole.

He scents the honeysuckle in the woods,
perfumes the rose and the down-land thyme;
spreads the spring-time hedgerows with pungent sweetness.
He breathes, and his breath gives birth,
his respiration flourishes and bears fruit;
our feeble inspiration is derived from him.

He touches the stems arising from his face,
points to his mouth and tongue, and we touch him,
where we can reach, stroke the leaves, and the chiselled edges
of his nose and brows, finger the fronds and vines,
removing blackened spiders’ webs,decades of neglect.

Our hands linger on his beard and hair.
we ponder his origins, his meaning,
wonder at the unnamed sculptors,
question their intentions.

 

My thanks to Tina for allowing me to reproduce her wonderful poem and the incredible picture above. Tina wrote:

“ I thought you might like this Green Man! As far as I know it is my discovery and I think it ranks as one of the most beautiful. There are other Green Men in the church which are well-known, but this one is in hiding. If anyone wants to find him, I can reveal his whereabouts.”

I know where he is! – but if anyone else wants to know they’ll have to drop me a line!

Crocheted Green Man

CH1

Serial Green Man sleuth John Roper let me know about this wonderful Green Man quilted wall hanging that he spotted at the Open art exhibition at Doncaster Museum & Art Gallery at the end of 2019. I managed to get in touch with it’s creator Charlotte Holm who kindly sent me these wonderful pictures of her work in progress as well as the finished green man. Charlotte wrote “A friend taught me to crochet a couple of years ago so I decided to try and make a green man out of crocheted leaves. The green man is a subject I keep returning to and I have made quite a few textile ones over the last few years. I arranged the leaves so that they created a face, the hardest part was crocheting a nose! The design is totally original and handsewn- after crocheting, the wall hanging is then quilted on to material.”

Charlotte is a textile artist, “Although I got my degree in illustration, I have taught myself how to sew as I liked the texture and look of quilted fabric. I am interested in ancient things- fossils, archaeology, stone circles and chambered tombs… also pagan themes which all reflect in my work.”

You can see more of Charlottes wonderful art on her Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/Charlotte-Holm-Textile-Artist-164761153534896/

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The Green Man in Stone

Rob Stephens, artist extraordinaire, new grandad and creator of our fabulous logo dropped me a line to tell me that his stone carver brother Shaun has got the green man bug. Rob sent me these pictures of his incredible workmanship. The paler coloured one is a piece of stone that came out of the restoration work at York Minster. There must be a cathedral out there somewhere who would like their very own new Green Man?

RS3

Jack in the Green 2019 update

Boss Morris Jack in the Green 2019

I am extremely pleased to be able to report that the number of Jacks sighted this year has now reached at least 20.

They are:

  • The Oxford Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Fowlers Troop (Deptford) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Hammersmith Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Dead Horse Morris (Whitstable) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Bovey Tracey (Grimspound Morris) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Bluebell Hill (Rochester Sweeps) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Bristol Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Whitstable Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Guildford Bush
  • The Evercreech Jack in the Green
  • The Ilfracombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Highworth Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Knutsford Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Hever Castle Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • The London Pagan Pride Parade Jack in the Green
  • Boss Morris Jack in the Green
  • The Brentham Jack in the Green
  • The Bradford on Avon Jack in the Green

The Islington Milkmaid’s Garland (The ancestor of The Traditional Jack in the Green) went out with New Esperance Morris on May 1st.

A small number of private Jacks also paraded this year.

I am still trying to obtain any photos of The Knutsford, Hever Castle and Winchcombe 2019 Jacks for our archive. I would also really appreciate any more pictures of any of this years (and previous years) Jacks to add to our archive. Please do get in touch if you can help.

I was honoured to meet and walk with The Hammersmith Jack in the Green this year and I also revisited an old friend, the Bristol Jack in the Green. I was very excited to be able to meet two brand new Jacks this year, The Evercreech Jack in the Green and The Bradford on Avon Jack in the Green. I was very pleased to hear that a Jack in the Green put in an appearance at The London Pagan Pride Parade for the first time in a number of years. It was also very exciting to hear that Boss Morris have had a Jack in the Green who has seen May dawn in for the past three years.

I am indebted to all the organisers and participants of the Jacks I met this year for making me feel so welcome and putting up with me getting in the way with my camera. I would also like to thank those involved with all the other Jacks that went out this year for keeping this wonderful, magical tradition alive.

There are loads of of photos of this years Jacks available to view on our Flickr Archive.

Pictures and information about each of this years Jacks will also appear on these pages over the coming weeks and months.

Still to come this year are The Castleton Garland King, Pilton Green Man Day, The Burryman in South Queensferry and the last Jack of the year the wonderful Carshalton Straw Jack in September. Details are available on our Annual Events Page

Bradford on Avon Jack in the Green 2019

Jack in the Green 2019 update

Fowler’s Troop 2019 Jack in the Green with thanks to The Old Royal Naval College for the picture

I am extremely pleased to be able to report that at least 18 Jacks have been sighted so far this year.

They are:

  • The Oxford Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Fowlers Troop (Deptford) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Hammersmith Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Dead Horse Morris (Whitstable) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Bovey Tracey (Grimspound Morris) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Bluebell Hill (Rochester Sweeps) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Bristol Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Whitstable Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Guildford Bush
  • The Evercreech Jack in the Green
  • The Ilfracombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Highworth Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Knutsford Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Hever Castle Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • The London Pagan Pride Parade Jack in the Green
  • Boss Morris Jack in the Green

I am waiting for confirmation that the Brentham Jack in the Green went out on Saturday 11th May

I am still trying to obtain any photos of The Knutsford, Brentham, Hever Castle and Winchcombe 2019 Jacks. Please do get in touch if you can help.

The Isehara (Japan) Jack in the Green did not go out this year

The Islington Milkmaid’s Garland went out with New Esperance Morris on May 1st

I was honoured to see The Hammersmith Jack, The Evercreech Jack and The Bristol Jack myself this year and plenty of photos are already available in our Flickr Archive.

And still to come are the following Jacks:

Bradford on Avon Green Man Festival – (Saturday 18th May)

This year the Bradford on Avon day of dance is being re-branded as a Green Man Festival and will introduce a 9′ tall giant Green Man accompanied by his Herald, a Bogie and two Squires – Winter and Spring along with one or more drummers. They will start the day at The Castle pub and then wander the town “greening” people. As the highlight of the closing activities they will perform Bradford on Avon’s Jack In The Green mummers’ play to herald in the summer. Morris sides with Hobby Horses will be invited to join in. With that done there will be a massed dance and the day will end with Holt Morris celebrating their 30th anniversary performing their haunting “Signposts” dance around Jack and his entourage.

“Our first event was very popular so please join us for a friendly, local family day of dancing and music, and support our pubs, restaurants, cafes and shops. Wear something green!” More…

Bradford on Avon Green Man Festival

 

Carshalton Straw Jack (September 2019)

A Celebration of Harvest this wonderful event takes place in September each year. The straw Jack is ritually stripped in the evening so that all present can take a keepsake and then he is burnt in a brazier. It is hoped that he will be burnt as a complete figure one year. (if you are an organiser or participant at this event please do get in touch with me) More…

Carshalton Straw Jack

Jack in the Green is here!

Bristol Jack-in-the-Green 2016

Bristol Jack in the Green 2016

Below are listed all of the magical events that take place over this weekend.

You can keep up to date with all this years events that feature The traditional Jack-in-the-Green or The Green Man throughout the UK by going to our Annual Events Page.

I would be extremely grateful if anyone who attends any of these events would send us pictures, videos or written accounts for the archive. You can send them directly using our contact tab above, through our Facebook Page or via our Twitter Pages. If you add them to Twitter please mention @companygreenman or #jackinthegreen in your tweet and I’ll find it.

If anyone knows of any events that are not listed here or if there are any corrections/amendments required please don’t hesitate to contact me.

If you are new to these pages and are wondering just what on earth a Jack in the Green is. Or if you have just walked out your front door early and been confronted by what you believe to be a seven foot tall dancing bush surrounded by people dressed in green, then your whistle stop tour of the history of the Traditional Jack-in-the-Green can be found right HERE.

 

Bristol Jack in the Green (Saturday 4th May)

The Bristol Jack in the Green appears on the first Saturday in May starting from the historic Harbourside (outside the M Shed) at 10:30am and leads a magical procession through the streets of Bristol eventually ending the day on Horfield Common at approximately 4pm where he dies to release the spirit of summer. A Jack-in-the-Green was recorded in Bristol around 1865 by a lady who remembered seeing him with a sweep and a queen on the outskirts. The revived Bristol Jack in the Green is a descendant of the Hastings Jack.

Bristol Jack in the Green

Highworth Jack-in-the-Green (Saturday 4th May)

Highworth in Wiltshire celebrated it’s 800th anniversary in 2006 with a Jack-in-the-Green and the Jack is now an annual tradition as part of the May Market. The Highworth Jack-in-the-Green parades each year through the streets of Highworth with the Bang to Rites Drummers.

Bang to Rites

 

Guildford Jack-in-the-Green (Saturday 4th May)

Known as The Guildford Bush, this Jack was revived by the Pilgrim Morris Men in 1979 and is built from Laurel. For many years the Jack was carried by folklorist  George Frampton. Last year the parade commenced at 10:30 outside The Star on the High Street. The Jack processes with the Pilgrim Morris Men to Castle Green where the Maypole is erected and the dancing involving guest Morris sides begins. 2016 marked the 40th Summerpole.

Guildford Jack in the Green

Knutsford May Day and Jack-in-the-Green (Saturday 4th May)

The Knutsford Jack in the Green is probably the oldest continual annual Jack in the Green. Apart from the war years it has paraded almost every year since 1889.  May Day in Knutsford is celebrated over the May Bank holiday weekend. The person who plays Jack is chosen each year and is now played by a  youngster rather than an adult as it used to be.

Knutsford Jack in the Green

 

Evercreech (Somerset) Jack-in-the-Green (Saturday 4th May)

Evercreech Jack in the Green is a community, folk revival, celebration taking place at The Old Stores Studio in Evercreech, Somerset.

This is the events first year and is a contemporary art event that has its roots firmly based in ancient, folk custom. May Day has been a long held tradition in English folklore and is celebrated in various forms at the start of summer by many European cultures. This non profit, community event, led by local people in Evercreech, transcends time to celebrate the annual arrival of summer.

From 10am -12pm on Saturday 04 May, there will be free art workshops for all ages at the studio; including dressing the Jack, Garden Day Flower Crowns, instrument making and face painting. The local community are invited bring along home grown flowers and foliage to add to the Jack too. During the morning, Jacks horned beast head will be decorated in flowers and his cloak constructed, with artist Fiona Campbell at Evercreech Village Hall, whilst the Show Society Plant Sale

Evercreech Jack-in-the-Green

 

Ilfracombe Jack-in-the-Green (Sunday 5th May)

Ilfracombe’s Jack-in-the-Green will parade on Sunday 5th May.  The Muster will begin from 10:45 in Wilder Road Car Park they parade through the High Street, Fore Street & St James Place ending at the Clapping Circle above Wildersmouth Beach.
At the Clapping Circle there will be dancing around the May Pole. Children from the audience are invited to join in the dancing, then ‘Jack’ will be stripped of his leafy coverings to welcome the Spirit of Summer.
Everyone is welcome to join or watch the May Day parade – just turn up and if possible wear something green.

The Ilfracombe Jack did not appear in 2015 after the previous committee were unable to continue. Kelly Raveney stepped in to help and Ilfracombe’s May Day Celebrations returned in 2016 and have continued since then.

Ilfracombe Jack in the Green


Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green (Monday 6th May)

The Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green was revived by Keith Leech in 1983 and is now one of the biggest annual gatherings of Morris Dancers in the country.

“The Jack in the Green Festival is an annual event that takes place in various parts of the gorgeous seaside resort that is Hastings. It’s a four day event and attracts thousands every year. This is a true British May Day celebration not to be missed. The four day event has been described as ‘thee celebration of Morris dancing and traditional merriment, centering on the symbolic figure of Jack in the Green and culminating in a wild costumed parade – one of the most bizarre in Britain.’ The long weekend event includes music of all genres from some of the best local and surrounding areas bands,  sun, historic and social events, and is filled with family fun. The weekend is topped off by the main event on the May Bank Holiday Monday, with the Jack in the Green parade itself. The parade begins at 9.45am on the Bank holiday Monday setting off from the Fisherman’s Huts in Rock-a-Nore Road in the Old Town, and finishes on the West Hill, where you will have an opportunity to see traditional folk dancers and music throughout the afternoon. The festival culminates with the slaying of Jack, to release the spirit of summer for this year. So come down, be merry and enjoy the true British festivities!”

The Gathering usually begins at 9:30-9:45am and Jack is “released” from the Fisherman’s Museum in a wonderful, magical ceremony and is central to the festival and the parade. At the end of the day  Jack is slain to release the spirit of summer. The festival takes place over the whole bank holiday weekend from Friday 3rd – Monday 6th May.

Hastings Jack-in-the-Green Festival

Whitstable Jack-in-the-Green (Monday 6th May)

Jack-in-the-Green is now central to the Whitstable May Day celebrations. The Jack is supported by Oyster Morris who also have their own Green Man who combines the roles of Jester and announcer dressed in white and green. Jack is also  accompanied by two attendants dressed as Robin Hood and Maid Marian. The Jack-in-the-Green was revived for the Whitstable Folk Festival in 1976. Dixie Lee, one of the original organisers said in 1992 “ At the time it just seemed like the Jack was looking for a reason to come out again, and I must say that every year when Jack makes his appearance on the street I get such a feeling of power from him that I know it was the right thing to do”

Whitstable Jack in the Green

Hever Castle Jack-in-the-Green (4th – 6th May)

Hever Castle in Kent have their own Jack-in-the-Green and Green Man over the early May Bank Holiday weekend. Joined by the Lord and Lady of the May on the Castle forecourt. The Green Man leads a procession through the gardens waking up the plants for summer.

Hever Castle Jack-in-the-Green

Clun Green Man Festival (Sunday 5th & Monday 6th May)

The Clun Green Man Festival is a traditional springtime festival, held on the first May bank holiday weekend of the year. The Festival takes place in the picturesque town of Clun in South Shropshire. The programme is full of live music, drama, colour and medieval malarkey and is fun for all the family. On Monday the Green Man will meet the Ice Queen at the battle of the bridge – If the Green Man loses there will be no summer!

Clun Green Man Festival

 

Merry May Day!

A Riddle

I am born on May Morning by sticks, bells, and ribbons
I am the sap in the dark root
I am the dancer with his six fools
I am the tump behind the old church
I am the lost soul under the misericord
I am the oak against the stars
I am the face that peers through the leaves
I am the fear in a childs mind
I am the demon on the roof-boss
I am killed in October and laid on church altars
I am the guiser on the bright bonfire
I am the old grain sown with the seed
I am the flame in the pumpkins grin
I am the spirit in the kern-baby’s bosom

A Merry May Day to you all from The Company of the Green Man

At the exact time that this post appears, as the sun rises on May 1st 2019 a number of Jacks-in-the-Green will awake across the UK. They will parade around towns, villages and cities bringing the summer and “Jacks Magic” with them.

I would be extremely grateful if anyone who attends any of these events would send us pictures, videos or written accounts for our archive. You can send them directly using our contact tab above, through our Facebook Page or via our Twitter Pages. If you add them to Twitter please mention @companygreenman or #jackinthegreen in your tweet and I’ll find it.

If you are new to these pages and are wondering just what on earth a Jack in the Green is. Or if you have just walked out your front door early on May Morning and been confronted by what you believe to be a seven foot tall dancing bush surrounded by people dressed in green, then your whistle stop tour of the history of the Traditional Jack-in-the-Green can be found right HERE.

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