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

Green Man miscellaneous

The Museum of British Folklore London Pop up Shop


Green Man Painting for Sale

Green Man

 

Artist Indigo is selling the painting pictured above. Green man is 101.4cm x 81 cm and is Acrylic on Canvas. The price is £170. If you are interested please drop me a line at greenman@virgin.net and I’ll put you in touch with the artist


Exeter Green Man Coming March 21st

Exeter Green Man

Green Man Coming!

On March 21st the spring equinox, Exeter will be visited by an old Devon character in contemporary form. From dawn onwards the Green Man will be walking into Exeter centre from his home somewhere in the rolling hills surrounding the city. Members of the public can run into him any time between dawn and noon when he will disappear without trace until next year. Anyone can approach him along his journey – he is courteous, photogenic and has a propensity for hugs said to banish the winter blues and promote change generally. On his way into town, he will leave behind blessings for new life and messages for members of the public to find and keep in the form of original artworks by an Exeter based artist.

Green Man Spotting!

The Green Man’s journey will be followed closely by DJ Sketch and Dr Site during a radio special on Exeter’s favourite community station phonic.fm. Studio guests will provide expert knowledge and discussion about the Green Man’s history and appearances across the centuries. Listeners can also join in the chase by phoning or emailing the station to report sightings of the Green Man throughout the morning. This year Exeter Phoenix have offered free tickets for the best Green Man photograph which will also be exhibited at the arts centre. There will also be prizes offered in exchange for some of the Green Man’s special blessings. Find out more on the phonic.fm website.

DJ Sketch said “ Last year’s visit from The Green Man was really amazing, With the help of the listeners on my Sunday Morning Scribble Radio Show we were able to follow The Green Man’s journey into Exeter City centre. This year will be bigger and better, we want to, with once again the help of the people of Exeter, welcome this very special guest who takes us out of  winter and into spring.”

Exeter Artist Volkhardt Müller said “I was honoured to be approached by the Green Man to help him with his work. We have similar figures and traditions in South West Germany where I come from, so I found it easy to connect with this ancient Exeter resident.”

Join in the hunt for the Green Man on March 21st between 5.30am and midday by tuning into phonic.fm 106.8fm in Exeter or via worldwide live streaming on www.phonic.fm.

Report your sightings to the phonic.fm studio on 01392 434577 or email studio@phonic.fm. Lines will be open between 5.30 am and 12pm.

To submit your Green Man photo and for more information visit www.vibraphonic2011.co.uk/

This year’s Green Man Coming is being hosted by the Vibraphonic Festival and phonic.fm. The Green Man’s mission is being supported by Exeter Arts Council.

Exeter Green man


Greenmantle Returns

Paul Pearson has just re-launched the wonderful “Greenmantle” magazine that many will fondly remember from the 90’s. The Samhain edition features some excellent articles by some fascinating contributors including Ralph Harvey, Kelvin Jones and Graham King. There’s also a short introduction to The Company of the Green man set off with a wonderful Green Man picture by artist Tricia Gill.
Details of how to buy a copy can be found on Greenmantle’s facebook site at:
Picture copyright © Greenmantle

The Memory of Trees Exhibition


Green Men on BBC FOUR “Churches how to read them”

There’s an interesting new series hidden away on BBC FOUR at the moment. Writer Richard Taylor’s “Churches how to read them” on Wednesdays at 8:30 and then repeated a number of times before the next episode. Last week Richard visited early medieval churches to find out why the Anglo-Saxons and Normans continued to fill their sacred buildings with pagan images.

He visits the 12th Century church of St Mary and St David’s in Kilpeck, Herefordshire and highlights the Famous Green Man on the doorway. He correctly points out that there are over 1000 green men in British churches but that he only knows of two records  of green men that are not in churches (I am assuming that he means from this time period). Images are then shown of various green men including: The stained glass at Holy Trinity in Long Melford, Suffolk (15th Century) and Seton Collegiate Church in East Lothian (15th Century). He explains the ”pious” Adam and the seeds of the tree of good and evil theory of the green man  which he describes as not holding much water as an explanation and notes that the green man of Kilpeck is thoroughly vividly alive. This looks to be the beginnings of a thoroughly enlightening series.


Green Men of Normandy by Bruce Eaton

Church of Saint-Germain in Barneville-Carteret - Copyright Eleanor Eaton

Saint-Germain, Barneville-Carteret, Normandy

On a recent family holiday in Normandy we took some time out from sandcastle building duties and sampling the excellent local cider to indulge in a spot of Green Man hunting.  Without doubt the highlight was the small Romanesque church of Saint-Germain in Barneville-Carteret.  We knew we were in for a treat when we saw the rows of grotesque corbels around the outside of the church.  The pillar capitals that support the dog-toothed Norman arches of the nave were fascinating.  They featured, amongst other things, multiple examples of Green Men of the ‘face generating foliage’ type, a figure holding two serpents which seem to emerge out of his anus, a wrestler throwing his opponent to the floor whilst being attacked by a serpent, a possible Christ figure with knotwork dogs, abstract knotwork patterns and a probable Sheela-na-Gig (although the ‘lady’s area’ has been attacked with a chisel at some point in the carving’s history).  The parish priest, when interrogated by my father-in-law, claimed that the oldest parts of the church date to the tenth century.  Clive Hicks, in his excellent field guide, dates the capitals to the twelfth century.[1] I would tentatively suggest an eleventh century date, but am happy to stand corrected.  Photographs of the capitals have been added to the COTGM Flikr site so that you can make up your own minds.

I had been aware that the master masons who supervised the building of England’s twelfth century churches had largely been recruited in France (most famously the Herefordshire School),[2] but until visiting Normandy I had not fully appreciated that, as well as bringing their expertise, these master craftsmen also brought with them a complex artistic vocabulary, of which Green Man designs form but one element.  This style did not develop in isolation and many of the carvings at Saint-Germain seem to bear more than a hint of Scandinavian influence.  This is unsurprising given that the deCarteret family claim direct descent from one of the henchmen of Rollo ‘the Dane’, the founder of Normandy.


[1] Hicks, C. 2000 The Green Man – A Field Guide COMPASSbooks p75

[2] Bailey, J. 2000 The Parish Church of St Mary & St David at Kilpeck Berrington Press p23

More of Bruce and Eleanor’s pictures of Normandy Green Men can be viewed on our Flickr Site http://www.flickr.com/photos/thecompanyofthegreenman


Exploring the Green Men of Stoke – Kate Lynch Artist in Residence

Saturday 31st July – Saturday 14th August 2010

Kate Lynch will be using her time as Artist in Residence to develop her work which looks at The Green Man. The Green Man can be seen in many forms on some of the town’s buildings. Throughout the residency the public will be introduced to the Green Men of Stoke Town through artwork, maps and sightseeing trails.

CREATE YOUR OWN GREEN MAN FREE

Wednesday 4th August all day (10:30 am – 4:30pm)
Create your own Green Man face using a range of locally sourced materials including clay, discarded ceramic lithographs and found wallpapers from around the city.

Other drop-in workshops will take place daily. Please check opening hours available online or at SHOP

To find out more pop in for a cup of tea anytime to:

116 Church Street, Stoke Town. ST4 1BU Next to the Spode Works archway.

More info at www.shop-stoke.co.uk

Kate’s fascinating  Blog: A Conversation with the Green Man can be found at: http://aconversationwiththegreenman.blogspot.com/


Green Man Walk in West Sussex 25th July 2010

The Goddess Foundation are organising a free green man walk through some ancient woodlands starting from Whiteways Lodge north of Arundel West Sussex on the 25th July 2010. The walk will be very informal and is open to everyone who would like to come along. They suggest bringing  a packed lunch and maybe some food to share around. There is a cafe on site for reasonably priced teas and coffees.

They plan on meeting from 10.30 onwards at Whiteways Lodge with the aim to start the walk at about 11am  probably finishing around 1pm for a picnic. After that as a special bonus there will be the oppurtunity to hunt a green man! Artist Chas Alexander will have hidden one of his pictures in the woods, and the person who finds it gets to keep it. The picture (shown above) appeared in the last issue of pagan dawn.

For more information and a  location map go to http://www.goddessfoundation.org.uk/GreenmanWalk.php


Green Rapunzel and the Green Man

COTGM member Sean Breadin, aka Sedayne, is a professional storyteller, singer of traditional ballads & folk songs and player of diverse & ancient musical instruments. For this years Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering he went again as a Green Man accompanied by Rapunzel. Rapunzel has been singing all her life, with passions encompassing folk, country and classical, holding an impressive CV in all respects. A gifted instrumentalist, she is just as likely to be found singing the ballad of Tam Lin as she is her own compositions or the songs of Laura Nyro. Both went resplendent in green carnival garb. The fantastic mask Sean is wearing is based on a sinister supporter from a Chester Cathedral misericord.  His thinking is that a lot of these sort of GM types could well be depictions of medieval carnival masks, so he thought the best thing to do would be to make one (using such traditional mediaeval materials as Ikea packing cases, organic flour, water & toilet paper) to see how such a thing might work in reality.

For their Green Man processional musicke go to: http://www.myspace.com/venereumarvum

Oak Apple Day

I met Wayne and Sue at the Hastings traditional Jack-in-the-Green and they sent me some great details about Oak Apple day also known as Royal Oak Day, Shick Shack Day and Nettling Day on May 29th

This celebrates the day that Charles II rode into London on 29th May 1660 (his birthday) and restored the monarchy to England. People celebrated this day with great celebrations and bonfires. The oak tree became a symbol for the day being the tree that the King hid in after his defeat at the battle of Worcester in September 1651.  The day also seems to have been a great excuse to spread the traditional May Day celebrations further into May and in some cases move the traditions to this day completely. Houses and Churches were decorated with oak boughs, maypoles were danced around and sprigs of oak leaves (often with galls otherwise known as oak apples attached) were worn on hats and clothing. Those daring not to wear a sprig of oak were open to being pinched, punched, kicked and even attacked with bunches of nettles! The traditions changed over the years until at one point oak leaves were worn in the mornings and ash leaves in the afternoons and plough horses bridles were decorated with both ash and oak leaves.

In the Derbyshire village of Castleton on May 29th a garland is still constructed and placed over the head and body of a man who rides around the town bearing it on horseback. The man is known as the King and is accompanied by his Queen and morris dancers all in white. At the end of the procession the garland is hoisted to the top of the church tower where it stays until the flowers die. The garland may be a forerunner of the later (and now current) tradition of the Jack-in-the-Green.


Green Man in Trafalgar Square

Green man spotters might like to look out for the Greenman in Trafalgar Square on the 24th April when The Lions Part celebrate St George’s day. The Greenman in his spring manifestation will be born out of the dragon. There will be six performances from midday until 6pm.


The Green Man at Beltane with Kit Berry

This course is being run by author and COTGM member Kit Berry.

The Green Man at Beltane: Discover the Green Spirit Within and Without with Kit Berry April 30th – May 3rd 2010

This course will focus on discovering the Green Man for ourselves. It will be a weekend of reconnecting with nature in a beautiful environment, using the grounds of the Victorian neo-Gothic mansion and the countryside of west Dorset. There will be a blend of outdoor activities designed to engage and excite the senses, and indoor creative and meditative exercises for releasing our imaginations into the wyld. Most of all, it will be a lot of fun. Kit is the author of The Stonewylde Series, a collection of novels set in Dorset which celebrate the forces of nature. She speaks all over the UK on “Reconnecting with Nature”. She lived in Dorset for most of her adult life and was a schoolteacher in Weymouth for many years. Two profound spiritual experiences changed the path of her life and she now writes and lectures for a living. Kit has a Batchelor’s degree in English and Media Studies, a PGCE and also a Master’s degree in Education. She has attended many holistic courses herself, both in the UK and Europe, and her talks are always inspirational and uplifting. She believes that unless we are grounded, our feet firmly in the soil and our senses engaged with the elements, we will not find true fulfilment or happiness.

More info at: http://www.stonewylde.com


Annnual Events coming soon

We’re back! the temporary computer glich is hopefully resolved,  (shiny new laptop and a second mortgage!) and there’s a bit of web re-building to do but we’re back on track and ready for the spring. If anyone sent me an e-mail in the last couple of weeks I’d be grateful if you could send it again just in case it went down the virtual rabbit hole with the rest of my data!

As May draws closer another quick reminder that the list of events that feature the Green Man, Jack-in-the-Green etc is growing every year. The list below is our current list but we are always extremely grateful  to hear of any others that we may have missed including those outside of the UK. This blog has a worldwide readership so don’t hesitate to drop us a line. I’ve included links to all of the below as some have not fixed their dates as yet. If you would like to add details of an event here please e-mail us at greenman@virgin.net Please go out and support your nearest Jack and join in the wonderful and magical event, then send us in your pictures and experiences of the event.

April/May

Bristol Jack in the Green Saturday 1st May 2010
The Bristol Jack in the Green appears on the first Saturday in May starting from the historic Harbourside (outside the Arnolfini) and leads a magical procession through the streets of Bristol eventually ending the day on Horfield Common where he dies to release the spirit of summer. For pictures of the 2009 Bristol Jack in the Green visit our flickr site

Rochester Sweeps Festival and Jack-in-the-Green

The Rochester Sweeps festival still has a Jack in the Green Ceremony where the Jack is awoken on Blue Bell Hill on May Morning and is paraded through the streets during the three day festival attended by hundreds of Morris Teams 

Hasting Jack-in-the-Green Festival April 30th – 3rd May 2010
The Hastings Jack-in-the-Green festival was revived by Keith Leech in 1983 and is now one of the biggest annual gatherings of Morris Dancers in the country.  The Jack is “released” every year and is central to the festival.

Deptford Jack-in-the-Green May 1st 2010
The Fowlers Troop Jack in the Green goes out on the streets of South East London or the City of London every May Day

Brentham May Day and Jack-in-the-Green
Brentham has a big celebration every May which includes a Jack in the Green

Knutsford May Day and Jack-in-the-Green
May Day in Knutsford is celebrated over the May Bank holiday weekend. The main focus is the May Queen but there is a Jack in the Green

City of London Jack-in-the-Green
The City of London Jack-in-the-Green appears in the City on May Day

Oxford Jack-in-the-Green
A Jack in the Green who appears in Oxford on May Day

Whitstable Jack-in-the-Green
Oyster Morris organise the Whitstable Jack

Beltane Bash 30th & 31st May 2010
The parade in 2009 (Sunday 24th May) started from the Conway Hall Red Lion Square London WC1 at 10:30 Led by traditional giants, the Jack-in-the-Green, Thor & Holda, Herne and Andred, Naughty Fairies and The Bogies.

Edinburgh Beltane Fire Festival
Edinburgh’s Beltane festival traditionally takes place on the 30th of April every year on Calton Hill. The Green Man begins in a dormant and inactive state in the form of the old Horned God, until he ‘dies’ when he touches the May Queen. Her Handmaidens tear his garments from him and he is ‘reborn’ as the young Green Man with a wild exhilarating dance that celebrates his youth and the new summer.

Clun Green Man Festival 1st – 3rd May 2010
The Clun Green Man Festival is a springtime festival, held over three days on the first May Bank Holiday of the year. The Festival takes place in the picturesque town of Clun in South Shropshire and features a modern interpretation of the Green Man

July

Green Man Day—Pilton Festival (Barnstaple)
The Green Man Day includes a stilt walking Green Man resplendent in foliage. The ritual enacted at the festival is believed to represent the initial antagonism of the Prior of Pilton and the Green Man and his subsequent inclusion within the church (The church of St Mary has it’s own Green Man) The festival is usually held on the third weekend in July

September

Carshalton Straw Jack 4th September 2010
A Celebration of Harvest this 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

October/November

Edinburgh Samhain Fire Festival
Edinburgh’s Beltane fire festival organisers also put on a spectacular Samhain fire festival which also features the Green Man as the ‘Horned god’ or ‘Holly Lord’ who rules over winter.

New Year

Twelfth Night Celebrations
Twelfth Night is an annual seasonal celebration held in the Bankside area of London. It is a celebration of the New Year, mixing ancient seasonal customs with contemporary festivity. It is free, accessible to all and happens whatever the weather. To herald the celebration, the extraordinary Holly Man, the Winter guise of the Green Man from pagan myths and folklore, decked in fantastic green garb and evergreen foliage, appears from the River Thames brought by the Thames Cutter, Master Shipbroker  Followed by wassailing a mummers play and other festivities

February 

Marsden Imbolc Fire Festival Feb 2011
Marsden Imbolc Fire Festival is a community festival of celebration, It is a fire festival; based around the Celtic ‘Imbolc’ marking the time when the earth begins to wake up after its winter sleep. The festival was started by Kirklees Countryside Volunteers about 18 years ago, primarily for the people of Marsden to come together at a quiet time of the year and to explore the environment around them and to be aware of the turning of the year. Jack Frost and a fabulous glowing Green Man battle for the spring each year.

If you would like to add details of an event here please e-mail us greenman@virgin.net


Annual Events

Bristol Jack (Bogey)

Another quick reminder that the list of events that feature the Green Man, Jack-in-the-Green etc is growing every year. The list below is our current list but we are always extremely grateful  to hear of any others that we may have missed including those outside of the UK. This blog has a worldwide readership so don’t hesitate to drop us a line. I’ve included links to all of the below as some have not fixed their dates as yet. If you would like to add details of an event here please e-mail us at greenman@virgin.net

Bristol Jack in the Green Saturday 1st May 2010
The Bristol Jack in the Green appears on the first Saturday in May starting from the historic Harbourside (outside the Arnolfini) and leads a magical procession through the streets of Bristol eventually ending the day on Horfield Common where he dies to release the spirit of summer. For pictures of the 2009 Bristol Jack in the Green visit our flickr site
Bristol Jack in the Green

Rochester Sweeps Festival and Jack-in-the-Green
The Rochester Sweeps festival still has a Jack in the Green Ceremony where the Jack is awoken on Blue Bell Hill on May Morning and is paraded through the streets during the three day festival attended by hundreds of Morris Teams
Rochester Sweeps Festival

Hasting Jack-in-the-Green Festival April 30th – 3rd May 2010
The Hastings Jack-in-the-Green festival was revived by Keith Leech in 1983 and is now one of the biggest annual gatherings of Morris Dancers in the country.  The Jack is “released” every year and is central to the festival.
Hastings Jack-in-the-Green Festival

Deptford Jack-in-the-Green May 1st 2010
The Fowlers Troop Jack in the Green goes out on the streets of South East London or the City of London every May Day
Deptford Jack in the Green

Brentham May Day and Jack-in-the-Green
Brentham has a big celebration every May which includes a Jack in the Green
Brentham Jack in the Green

Knutsford May Day and Jack-in-the-Green
May Day in Knutsford is celebrated over the May Bank holiday weekend. The main focus is the May Queen but there is a Jack in the Green
Knutsford Jack in the Green 

City of London Jack-in-the-Green
The City of London Jack-in-the-Green appears in the City on May Day
City of London Jack in the Green

Oxford Jack-in-the-Green
A Jack in the Green who appears in Oxford on May Day
Oxford Jack in the Green

Whitstable Jack-in-the-Green
Oyster Morris organise the Whitstable Jack
Whitstable Jack in the Green

Beltane Bash 30th & 31st May 2010
The parade in 2009 (Sunday 24th May) started from the Conway Hall Red Lion Square London WC1 at 10:30 Led by traditional giants, the Jack-in-the-Green, Thor & Holda, Herne and Andred, Naughty Fairies and The Bogies.
 Beltane Bash 

Green Man Day—Pilton Festival (Barnstaple)
The Green Man Day includes a stilt walking Green Man resplendent in foliage. The ritual enacted at the festival is believed to represent the initial antagonism of the Prior of Pilton and the Green Man and his subsequent inclusion within the church (The church of St Mary has it’s own Green Man) The festival is usually held on the third weekend in July
Pilton Festival

Clun Green Man Festival 1st – 3rd May 2010
The Clun Green Man Festival is a springtime festival, held over three days on the first May Bank Holiday of the year. The Festival takes place in the picturesque town of Clun in South Shropshire and features a modern interpretation of the Green Man
Clun Green Man Festival

Carshalton Straw Jack 4th September 2010
A Celebration of Harvest this 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
Carshalton Straw Jack

Marsden Imbolc Fire Festival Feb 2011
Marsden Imbolc Fire Festival is a community festival of celebration, It is a fire festival; based around the Celtic ‘Imbolc’ marking the time when the earth begins to wake up after its winter sleep. The festival was started by Kirklees Countryside Volunteers about 18 years ago, primarily for the people of Marsden to come together at a quiet time of the year and to explore the environment around them and to be aware of the turning of the year. Jack Frost and a fabulous glowing Green Man battle for the spring each year.
 Marsden Imbolc Fire Festival


Stilt Walking Green Man

Every July a giant green man walks the streets of Pilton (Barnstaple) as part of the Pilton Green Man Festival.  The festival is growing every year and more details can be found via the annual events page at the Company of the Green Man website: www.thecompanyofthegreenman.co.uk The pictures of Laurie above show just how much detail goes into the costume, including fresh foliage gathered on the day of the event. Laurence Wedge has been stiltwalking as the green man for over 10 years now, starting in Covent Garden. He has been performing at the Pilton Festival for over 6 years. The giant green man gives blessings with flower petals or leaves. For more information about Stiltskin you can go to  www.stiltskin.me.uk


Sotheby’s Green Man Sale update by Kath Stonedog

Just before Christmas came the opportunity to buy a green man or two. Or three. Although even if I’d added a decade’s worth of Christmases and birthdays together I’d still have come up well short!

Covetable pieces were offered by Sotheby’s as part of an Old Master Sculpture and Works of Art auction. http://www.sothebys.com/app/live/lot/LotResultsDetailList.jsp?event_id=29159&sale_number=L09733 and described in the catalogue as “Richard Wiseman’s comprehensive collection of fantastic medieval architectural fragments of beasts, gargoyles and grotesques.”

Looking at the prices achieved the green men items all seem to have sold except for Lot 3 – a C12/C13 pair of full-face foliage beard and hair examples, perhaps from Rheims. Multiple item lots make it hard to pick out a trend in the prices achieved except for the obvious: later, wood, and less detailed costs less!

The whole catalogue is well worth a look but if you are pressed for time then I think the green men are Lots 3, 6, 8, 19, 24, 26, 27, and possibly 31.

Richard Wiseman’s collection has been noted for its breadth and quality – as well as his skill and generosity in privately publishing a catalogue raisonnée so that other people can enjoy and study the pieces. I recommend this catalogue (IOTA Bibliography #604) for its excellent photographs and scholarly descriptions. I can’t find it on Amazon but I think that copies are available from Celia Jennings at http://www.early-carving.com/ 

“The sale is concluded by a magnificent set of Roman mosaics acquired by Lord Kinnaird during his Grand Tour in 1823.” Two of these are the (restored) second century “Heads of Tritons” which clearly show the seaweed hair and beards which are often said to be the artistic ancestors of the green man, especially the foliage hair and leaf mask  forms. From the catalogue discussion it seems that the C19 restoration
didn’t involve these splendid heads. It also seems that a third from the same original mosaic is currently in the entrance hall floor at Woburn Abbey! Does anyone have a photo of this one so it can be compared with the auction catalogue pictures? 

Editor’s addition: 

Obviously these pieces are extremely important and The Company of the Green Man would love to be able to keep a track of their whereabouts. If anyone who purchased any of the pieces would like to get in touch with us (we are happy to provide anonymity where requested) we would be most grateful. We would just like to put a note against them in the archive detailing where they currently are. You can contact me at greenman@virgin.net


Brent Knoll Wassail (Words by Bruce Eaton, Pictures by Maddy Aldis-Evans)

Any COTGM members thinking of attending the wassail in Brent Knoll (see post below) or who just fancy a day trip, should make sure that they get to the village with plenty of daylight to spare.  Not only are the views from the top of the Iron Age hillfort stunning (Wales to the NW, the Mendip hills to the N and E, the Quantock hills to the S and Glastonbury Tor to the E) but St. Michael’s Church, in the heart of the village, is well worth a visit.  Highlights include a gargoyle/hunkypunk on the tower with legs and a bare bottom hanging out of his maw, a rare plaster bust of local Civil War hero John Somerset and the famous medieval pew ends featuring greenmen.
  
Three of the pew ends, topped with intricate greenmen, date to the late 15th century and form an allegorical cartoon.  The first pew end depicts the figure of a fox dressed in the robes of an abbot preaching to a flock of birds, probably geese. Above the fox a chained ape holds a bag of money aloft. Below the abbot’s feet two monkeys roast a pig on a spit. In the second pew end, the fox has been placed in leg irons and is imprisoned in the stocks, while a monkey stands guard over him. In the third pew end the geese have hung the fox, while dogs bark triumphantly.
So what’s all that about then? 

The fox is thought to represent an Abbot of Glastonbury who was taxing his tenants (the geese) particularly hard.  The third pew end, then, is a revenge fantasy on the part of the parishioners.  The reason the church could get away with such scandalous pew ends is because it was under the control of the Diocese of Bath and Wells, another powerful and influential landowner in Somerset and the Abbey’s only real rival.  Another example of this one-up-manship can be seen in the village of Pilton where the grand Abbey owned tithe barn (recently restored by Michael Eavis) and the impressive Bath and Wells run parish church seem to scowl at each other across a narrow river valley. 

Pictures produced with the kind permission and copyright © Maddy Aldis-Evans


Green Men sold at Sotheby’s

We are extremely grateful to Kath Stonedog for bringing the following to our attention

On December 8, 2009 an unusual collection of stone architectural carvings brought together over a period of 17 years by collector and enthusiast Richard Wiseman was sold by Sotheby’s in London.

The collection comprised of 32 lots and were estimated to fetch approximately £150,000

Included in the sale were nine Green Men the details of which are:

Lot 3 French possibly Reims 12th 13th Century Pair of green men, Limestone

Lot 6 French, probably southern 12th/13th Century Relief slab with a green man

Lot 19 Northern English/Scottish 15th Century A red sandstone relief with a green man

Lot 24 English 13th/14th Century Stone label stop with a green man

Lot 26 French of Flemish 14th/Early 15th Century Corbel bracket with a green man together with a Bruges 14th/ early 15th Century limestone relief of a green man

Lot 27 English 14th Century Corbel with a green man together with an English 12th Century limestone corbel of a green man and a French Green Man in 15th Century style

Richard Wiseman commented: “We may never be able to decipher the message of this product of the medieval mind – intended for interpretation by a medieval audience, human or otherwise, but owning part of the pictorial code still affords profound fascination and not a little awe.”

 I’ll bring more information as and when I can


Robin Unhooded? By Ronald Millar

 I hope that you are all having a fantastic Yuletide and that Boxing Day finds you without heartburn or a lack of batteries! 

After a number of e-mails regarding Robin Hood from our members, the release in 2010 of the new film starring Russell Crowe (come on it’s got to be better than the recent TV series hasn’t it!!!) My Yule tradition of watching the final scenes of Michael Praed’s Robin in Richard Carpenters fantastic series from the 80’s and some comments from fellow members of The Company of Maisters. I felt that I should re-publish this article from the archive of The Company of the Green Man earlier than I had intended. 

This article was first published by the late Ronald Millar in the Company of the Green Man March 2000 newsletter (number 7) I have reproduced it exactly as it was originally hand typed by Ron in his fabulous crumbling tower in East Sussex. For those who don’t know Ronald came to prominence as author of The Piltdown Men, a defence of the solicitor Charles Dawson, the alleged forger of the infamous human fossil from Sussex. He was also the author of a number of books ranging from military history to the lives of the Breton tunny fisherman, a venture in which he was nearly drowned when his sailing schooner was destroyed mid-Atlantic by a summer hurricane. Five of the crew perished. He wrote “For a writer there is nothing like first-hand experience. it should be avoided at all costs”  I’ll remember him as exactly the kind of person you want to be sitting in front of next to a roaring pub fire with a pint in your hand with nowhere you need to be for the next six hours! 

A number of members have commented about the connection between the Green Man and Robin Hood particularly when it comes to pub signs. Indeed it is known that some Green Man pubs changed their signs to foresters or images of a bow wielding Robin Hood from from the original image of the shaggy green men used as a symbol of the Distillers’ company in the 17th century.  As Ron comments and as I have also discovered (but am open to being corrected) there are no pubs in Robin’s own county of Nottinghamshire named the Green Man but there are many Robin Hoods!

The interconnection between Robin and the Green Man that arises through the mythology of the Lord of the Wildwood, of Puck and Herne etc may also add to this link. One to discuss on these pages I hope. Feel free to comment using the link directly at the bottom of this page or e-mail me directly at greenman@virgin.net

Robin Unhooded? By Ronald Millar (From The Company of the Green Man Newsletter Number 7  March 2000)

 ‘Legends, myths, fables, even fairy tales were the ways in which a non-literate society told its story. Distorted, emphasis changed to suit the talker’s purpose maybe, but here is real history. This is perhaps the greatest discovery by archae­ologists in the last fifty years’.

Introduction to Chapter Five of The Green Man Companion and Gazetteer By Ronald Millar 

WRINGING historical truth out of a medieval ballad must require similar optimism, one might suspect, to attempting to write an accurate history based on Hollywood film epics. Nothing loath, Professor John Bellamy of Carleton University, Ottowa, decided to try; after all when there is no alternative tool of research then a ballad it must be. In this case the ballad was called The Gest of Robyn Hode composed in the fourteenth century. 

The professor does not hide the fact that he leans heavily on earlier scholars at the same game, some of whom were not above ‘creative research’, giving the evidence a little twist and a nudge here and there to create a new and sensational theory. All of them eventually gave up, although some were hot on the trail of real discovery. Bellamy persisted and, through his endeavours with the Gest and antique charters and manor rolls, sheds new light on the famous but shadowy out­law with the heart of gold we call Robin Hood, Robin Hode, Robin-in-the-Hood, Robin of Locksley, Earl of Huntingdon and Uncle Tom Cobbly and All. From the faded and illegible pages Robin’s adventures come alive. 

The balladeer sang how the King comes to Sherwood in disguise. There he is captured but recognised by Robin, but all ends well with the outlaw and his merry men being granted a pardon and entering their royal master’s service. It had always been suspected that ‘the comely King’ was unlikely to be Richard the Lionheart, suddenly returned from the Crusades or ransomed imprisonment, as modern tales and films insist. That highly popular, but normally absent, sovereign would be hard put to remember where England was. Sure enough confirmation comes in a medieval chronicle that tells how Edward II, who reigned from 1307 to 1327 and was a great man for the hunt and also a ‘comly king’, became somewhat sore at the lawlessness and deer poaching in his royal forests and ventured to Nottingham to see what was up for himself. The year is 1323. Whether he actually ventured into the trees himself is not known but sure enough Edward’s wardrobe accounts for that year show that one Robyn Hode commenced to receive royal wages from November onwards. Well done the professor. 

But our historical sleuth sees a snag. Did you? When Robyn meets the dis­guised king in the forest he recognises who he is. This suggests that the outlaw knew him, must have seen him at close hand on an earlier occasion, an opportu­nity not afforded to lesser folk in the Middle Ages. Bellamy cannot help noticing Robin’s social graces. Where does his great courtesy come from? Bellamy concludes that he must at some time have served in the household of some noble, and when out­lawed have taken his social graces with him into the forest. And sure enough there is a Robyn Hode on the payroll of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster.

And now we know how Robyn or Robin came to be outlawed, hinted at as unjust but never categorised in the numerous songs and stories about him. During Robyn’s brief service with Lancaster that noble had rebelled against the King and was cap­tured and hanged, his land and property forfeit to the Crown as was the law in those stirring times. His retainers would also forfeit their goods and chattels and be outlawed to boot. Robyn could not have escaped the penalty for being on the losing side. 

In spite of all we and others have said about Robin Hood being the personifi­cation of a spirit of the wood we have to accept he was also a real person and that the outlaw depicted on the Green Man pub signs probably looked very much like him. All we need to know now from Professor Bellamy is why the pubs were not called the Robin Hood. He does not say, a great pity. 

During an idle moment the present author conducted an experiment that might have appealed to the professor for its unorthodoxy. He looked up all the Green Man pubs in the Nottingham area telephone directory. Was there one? If so he has forgotten it. Yet in London alone there were thirty -six. What did that prove? Absolutely nothing except it is incredible that a local hero did not receive the usual English accolade of having numerous pubs named after him. It puzzled the author but Bellamy took it in his stride. He knew better. Although the Gest concentrates on Robyn’s struggle with the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham- he identifies this character, too. And Guy of Guisborne, even Friar Tuck and many others – the outlaw’s rightful haunts were nearly a hundred miles further north in Yorkshire, in Barnsdale to the south of York. Somebody with access to a Yorkshire telephone directory should try the pub census there.

But if Robin Hood was a real person what of Robin-in-the-Hood? What of Jack-in-the-Green? What of the Green Man? Do not despair.. Professor Bellamy discovered several references to a Robin Hood who existed many centuries before the outlaw’s bow sang its lethal song in the glades of Sherwood. As a sur­name Robinhod or Robynhoud was quite common in places as far apart as Sus­sex and Cumberland. Bellamy cautiously provides no explanation. 

NOTE: John Bellamy’s book is Robin Hood: An Historical Inquiry published in 1985 by Croom Helm Ltd, Beckenham, Kent. Rather stuffy but otherwise a first rate demonstration of how historical inquiry is correctly and unsensationally carried out, an all too rare event these days.

You can purchase a copy of this book via Amazon.co.uk using the links on the Green Man Shop pages on our website at www.thecompanyofthegreenman.co.uk


Inspired by The Green Man, Paintings by Brien O’Rourke

stonegallery


Green Man or not Green Man?

COTGM Member Vanessa Piggott writes about the “is it or isn’t it a Green Man” section of our Flickr site which can be found at: www.flickr.com/photos/thecompanyofthegreenman/sets/72157615246767290/ Please feel free to have a look and add your comments here or on our Flickr pages “http://www.flickr.com/photos/thecompanyofthegreenman/

Gosh, is it or isn’t it a Green Man? When you have travelled miles, tramped across fields, and back, to fetch the Key from the last cottage in the village you really want to find a Green Man and it is easy to be convinced. I have looked at the photos and my gut instincts are as follows:- Kilpeck NO
St Mary Radcliffe YES
Glos. NO
Bradford on Avon YES  Foliate Mask
Loxley NO
Earthlights (1) Debatable (2) YES
Wells Debatable
Kent YES
Buckley NO
Calne YES
South Morden NO
Gt Coxwell Too Eroded
East Hagbourne NO
Burford (1) YES (2) NO (3) NO
Langley Marsh YES
Eynesford NO .

When I find a ‘debatable’ I list it anyway for other people to make up their own minds. In general I am against being too purist, there are many different GM hunters, so I say list the lot and let the viewer decide, maybe it will encourage people to go and see for themselves.


Green Sedayne

 

 

 

COTGM member Sean Breadin, aka Sedayne, is a professional storyteller, singer of traditional ballads & folk songs and player of diverse & ancient musical instruments. For this years Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering he went as a Green Man. The fantastic mask is based on a sinister supporter from a Chester Cathedral misericord.  His thinking is that a lot of these sort of GM types could well be depictions of medieval carnival masks, so he thought the best thing to do would be to make one (using such traditional mediaeval materials as Ikea packing cases, organic flour, water & toilet paper) to see how such a thing might work in reality. He wore it both in the procession & for a couple of storytelling sessions.

For Sedaynes Myspace page (including some wonderful musical clips) go to:
http://www.myspace.com/sedayne
 For his Heads-With-Leaves pages go to:
http://www.sedayne.co.uk:80/heads-with-leaves.html
For information about the Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering go to:
http://www.northumbriana.org.uk/gathering

THE WILD HUNT AND THE GREEN MAN

 

The Wild Hunt performing Thor’s Hammer, a dance traditionally associated with thunder and light’ning! The team’s Green Man, Graham Hyde, is flanked by dancers Lisa Williams and Dave Young (Picture courtesy of Colin Lowles).

The Wild Hunt performing Thor’s Hammer, a dance traditionally associated with thunder and light’ning! The team’s Green Man, Graham Hyde, is flanked by dancer Lisa Williams and the side's Squire Paul Fearon (Picture courtesy of Colin Lowles).

The Wild Hunt Bedlam Morris team was formed in September, 1991, meeting appropriately in the shadow of a hill known as Bedlams Bank at Merstham in Surrey. The name of our team is taken from a legend with ancient origins deeply rooted in myth and race memory across much of Northern and Central Europe and this is reflected in our style of dancing and the kit we wear.

The Wild Hunt was said to sweep over fields and through woodland in the dead of night, preceded by a pack of coal black hounds with glowing red eyes accompanied by the wild calls of hunting horns. At times, the hunt was said to take to the air riding on the chill night winds. Odin was said to lead the hunt in Teutonic myth and the quarry was a beautiful maiden. In Celtic Britain, the hunt was led by Cernunnos, the horned god of animals, whose name lives on in place names beginning with Cerne such as Cerne Abbas in Dorset – home of the chalk giant. In English legend, the quarry is a stag of purest white.

The Wild Hunt is a ‘mixed’ team dancing in the energetic, noisy and more exuberant Border tradition with men and women dancers and musicians. We wear ‘tatters’ – tattered jackets predominantly black interspersed with green rags for men and red for women. Many Border sides dance with blacked-up faces, but The Wild Hunt is a masked side, an alternative that was believed to be unique when it was introduced, but has now been copied by other sides. Battery-powered light emitting diodes just above the eye sockets glow red when dancing at dusk, but the team also has its own Green Man, Graham Hyde, who wears special kit and has eyes that flash green in the darkness.

Our dances blend ancient North European mythology with our own interpretation of English Bedlam Morris and several portray the legend of the Green Man. We aim to capture some of the original mystique and provide a magical experience for our audience with the emphasis on drama and spectacle. The team performs about twice a month on average from April to December and apart from performing at local pubs, also takes part in folk festivals and other exciting events around the country.

 Take a look at our website: www.wildhunt.org.uk