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

Jack in the Green

Jack is Alive

The Hastings 2020 Traditional Jack in the Green is alive! This grainy picture taken via the wonders of technology shows Jack waking up in a secret location somewhere in the Hastings area mere minutes ago. He appeared out of a mysterious green fog to virtual cries of joy from his Bogies.


Merry May Day!

My thanks to Rose Blakeley for the wonderful and extremely poignant picture and poem below that remind us that #jackwillbeback

You can find more of Rose’s wonderful work at www.roseblakeley.moonfruit.com


Merry May Day!

 

It is 05:32 and the sun has just risen.

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

 

 

A Riddle – Phil Lister

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

 

 

 

Green Man – William Anderson

Like antlers, like veins of the brain, the birches
Mark patterns of mind on the red winter sky;
‘I am thought of all plants’, says the Green Man,
‘I am thought of all plants’, says he.

The hungry birds harry the last berries of rowan
But white is her bark in the darkness of rain;
‘I rise with the sap’, says the Green Man,
‘I rise with the sap’, says he.

The ashes are clashing their bows like sword-dancers
Their black buds are tracing wild faces in the clouds;
‘I come with the wind’, says the Green Man.
‘I come with the wind’, says he.

The alders are rattling as though ready for battle
Guarding the grove where she waits for her lover;
‘I burn with desire’, says the Green Man,
‘I burn with desire’, says he.

In and out of the yellowing wands of the willow
The pollen-bright bees are plundering the catkins;
‘I am honey of love’, says the Green Man,
‘I am honey of love’, says he.

The hedges of quick are thick with May blossom
As the dancers advance on the leaf-covered King;
‘It’s off with my head’, says the Green Man,
‘It’s off with my head’, says he.

Green Man becomes grown man in flames of the oak
As its crown forms its mask and its leafage his features;
‘I speak through the oak’, says the Green Man,
‘I speak through the oak’, says he.

The holly is flowering as hay fields are rolling
Their gleaming long grasses like waves of the sea;
‘I shine with the sun’, says the Green Man,
‘I shine with the sun’, says he.

The hazels are rocking the cups of their nuts
As the harvesters shout when the last sheaf is cut;
‘I swim with the salmon’, says the Green Man,
‘I swim with the salmon’, says he.

The globes of the grapes are robing with bloom
Like the hazes of autumn, like the Milky Way’s stardust;
‘I am crushed for your drink’, says the Green Man,
‘I am crushed for your drink’, says he.

The aspen drops silver of leaves on earth’s salver
And the poplars shed gold on the young ivy flower heads;
‘I have paid for your pleasure’, says the Green Man,
‘I have paid for your pleasure’, says he.

The reedbeds are flanking in silence the islands
Where meditates Wisdom as she waits and waits;
‘I have kept her secret’, says the Green Man,
‘I have kept her secret’, says he.

The bark of the elder makes whistles for children
To call to the deer as they rove over the snow;
‘I am born in the dark’, says the Green Man,
‘I am born in the dark’, says he.

 

 


Jack in the Green Events May 2020o

I would usually be telling you about all of the Jacks that will be waking and parading over the coming days, but as we all know things are a bit different this year. It is hoped that some Jacks will still be seeing in dawn on May morning and I will report on them and post pictures as soon as I can.

There are also some wonderful virtual events taking place which are detailed below.

My thanks to Rose Blakeley for the wonderful Jack in the Green picture above.
www.roseblakeley.moonfruit.com

 

Hastings Virtual Traditional Jack in the Green

This year’s Jack in the Green will go ahead as a virtual event online. On Sunday 3 May, revellers are encouraged to dress up, decorate their houses with greenery, and join in the virtual parade via the Facebook page: 

https://www.facebook.com/HastingsTraditonalJackintheGreen/

“We are very pleased to say that during these difficult times we are looking to bring the town online and together to celebrate our beloved festival, Hastings Traditional Jack in the Green. We are working with local community facebook channel Isolation Station Hastings to run a series of events streamed live on our Facebook page and theirs including a sunrise ceremony at dawn on 1st May and morris dancing, drumming and music on Saturday May 2nd with the main procession taking place on Sunday 3rd via Zoom and Facebook.

Dress up in green, decorate your homes and join us on Zoom!

For the main event on Sunday we are asking the whole town to get dressed up in green as they normally would and join us online on Zoom. Here we will all be able to celebrate together watching footage of previous years’ processions as well as live performances from across Hastings including Morris dancing, drum performances, a ceilidh, live music, the slaying of the Jack and all of the wonderful people and characters that make this event what it is. The exciting part is we will be able to see everyone dressed up and enjoying the virtual festival from their homes.

To apply for spaces for Sunday’s Main Procession on Zoom, details will be announced on www.hastingsjitg.co.uk in the coming days. It will be simultaneously broadcast on Facebook so nobody needs to miss out.

May Day ‘Bang your drum for the NHS at 3.30pm on Sunday 3rd May’

We will end the proceedings at 3.30pm by inviting the whole town to go to their doorsteps, windows and balconies and bang their drums in a special Hastings May Day applause for the NHS, before we conduct the famous ceremonial slaying of the Jack.

RAISING MONEY FOR OUR NHS

It’s no small undertaking – we estimate there will be over one hundred people working and performing at this event, which will include as much of the actual schedule as is technologically possible. We are a charity ourselves and are of course losing money this year, but we hope everyone will come together and we are inviting those who can to donate to two local charities providing PPE and other support for our NHS: ‘Hastings Supports Our NHS Staff’ and ‘Friends of the Conquest Hospital’. Normally tens of thousands attend our event, so if everybody donated a small amount we could make a big difference.

Donation link https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jack-in-the-green

Show us your decorations this week on social media

All details will be announced on our social media pages this week, but in the mean time we are asking everybody to start preparing their decorations and costumes and post photos & videos with the hashtag #hastingsvirtualjack2020

There will be a few hundred places available for the Zoom Procession, but it will be simultaneously broadcast to our own Facebook page and Isolation Station’s so nobody needs to miss out.

We believe this very special event belongs to our community, and we will work night and day to bring it online so that we can keep the spirit of Hastings alive during these difficult times.”

 

Whitstable Virtual Jack in the Green

This year’s Whitstable Jack in the Green will go ahead as a virtual event online on May the 1st – Go to the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Whitstable-Jack-in-the-Green-100375881612669 for a live stream from 12pm including a specially commissioned film compiling lots of lovely footage and photos of the procession over the years made by Dixie Lee’s grandson Josh, a live performance of the May Day Song by Cathy Lesurf and John Jones and an interview with Dixie, Cathy, John, Ian Telfer and Alan Prosser about the revival of this amazing tradition, the Whitstable Folk Club, music, morris and any questions you might have!

Evercreech Jack in the Green

Last year 🌿EVERCREECH JACK IN THE GREEN🌿 was dressed in his finery of flowers and foliage and although Jack cannot be processed by followers this year- to keep everyone safe- we are still honouring the turn of seasons this May with some exciting alternative plans that are afoot…

Evercreech Jack in the Green will be adorned in his greenery in a studio window display at The Old Stores Studio from this first weekend of May for people to enjoy as they go about their daily exercise past the studio and online. (If you have any spare flowers and foliage from your own gardens that you can offer to add to Jack please safely drop off outside the studio if you can. We can also arrange to collect safely from anyone locally if you can’t venture out- feel free to message us. All donations gratefully received! 🌿🌷)…

We are also really looking forward to teaming up with Garden Day UK and local florists, flower growers and community to celebrate Garden Day UK on Sunday 10 May and will be safely gifting 50 + beautiful free flower crowns to local people. If you know someone who deserves to be gifted a flower crown and relax in their garden (doesn’t everyone?!🌿💐👑) then please TAG them TO NOMINATE and tell us why they deserve to be crowned! 👑💐🌹🌼🌸🌺🌻🌷🌿(crowns will be safely delivered to doorsteps on Sunday 10 May).

STAY SAFE (stay home and enjoy your garden if you have one) AND SHARE THE LOVE! ❤️ 🌿


Hastings Jack in the Green 2018 – Justin Lycett

Almost all of the Jack in the Green and Green Man related events planned for May and the early summer have now been cancelled.

A few hardy souls have decided to go solo and will ensure that Jack in the Green will wake on May Morning on his own with appropriate social distancing and I hope to share pictures and details if they do.

There are also plans for some virtual processions (Whitstable and Hastings so far) and for other events to be postponed until later this year. Please do let me know of any virtual events I may have missed.

I would like to thank Justin Lycett for kindly giving me permission to post the above link to his wonderful video of the 2018 Hastings Traditional Jack in the Green to keep our spirits up in these unusual times.


Annual Events 2020 Update

I shall do my very best to keep our Annual Events Page up to date over the coming weeks and months with regards to cancellations and changes to this years events. I would be grateful for a heads up if anybody hears of any that I may miss.

Although incredibly sad it is of course completely understandable that this years May events are being cancelled.

However a few hardy souls have decided to go solo and will ensure that Jack in the Green will awake on May Morning on his own.

There are also plans for some virtual processions to go ahead (Whitstable looks to be one) and for other events to be postponed until later this year (Highworth “May Day” has a possible new date of Saturday 22nd August to be confirmed.)

I will of course be doing my best to promote and support them.

#jackwillbeback

UPDATE 27/03/20

Oxford Jack in the Green and May celebration has been cancelled.

Hever Castle May Day Festivities have been cancelled.

 

UPDATE 22/03/20

Evercreech Jack in the Green and May procession has been cancelled.

 

UPDATE 21/03/20

Whitstable May Day procession has been cancelled sadly but they are just putting the finishing touches on plans for a virtual procession with a specially commissioned video of archive footage and various community efforts.

 

UPDATE 20/03/20

Guildford Summerpole has now been cancelled

Grimspound Morris (Bovey Tracey) Green Man festival and Jack in the Green has been cancelled

Oak House Green Man has been cancelled

 

UPDATE 19/03/20

Bristol Jack in the Green has now been cancelled

Bradford on Avon Green Man festival and Jack in the Green has now been cancelled

Rochester Sweeps Festival has been cancelled

Highworth May Day postponed with a possible new date for “May Day” of Saturday 22nd August to be confirmed.

Ilfracombe Jack in the Green has been cancelled

Brentham May Day has been cancelled

 

UPDATE 18/03/20

Hastings Traditional Jack in the Green has been cancelled

Knutsford Royal May Day and Jack in the Green has been cancelled


Events 2020 – Jack in the Green – Rochester (Blue Bell Hill) 1st May

Rochester (Blue Bell Hill) Jack-in-the-Green (Revived 1981)

The Rochester Jack was revived in 1981 by Gordon Newton and based on accounts written by Charles Dickens in his ‘Sketches by Boz.’ The Rochester Jack-in-the-Green is brought to life during a fantastic ceremony that takes place at Dawn on May 1st at the top of Bluebell Hill each year.

Originally revived by Boughton Monchelsea Morris, custodianship of Jack was passed to Motley Morris in 1984 who now Wake Jack with various other Morris sides at dawn on May Morning (approximately 5:32am) at the Bluebell Hill picnic area surrounded by twelve bonfires. Jack is also paraded through the streets of Rochester by Motley Morris usually on the bank holiday Monday as part of the very popular three day Sweeps Festival. An article in the Chatham and Rochester Observer in 1932 states that ” Sixty years ago (the 1870’s) it was not considered May Day if we had not seen at least three Jacks-in-the-Green and their attendants from Rochester and Chatham.”

Jack in the Green by Martin Graebe

Now winter is over I’m happy to say
And we’re all met again in our ribbons so gay
And we’re all met again on the first day of spring
To go about dancing with Jack in the green
Jack in the green, Jack in the green
To go about dancing with Jack in the green

Now Jack in the green is a very strange man
Though he dies every autumn, he’s born every spring
And every year on his birthday, we will dance through the streets
And in return Jack, he will ripen our wheat (as above)

With his mantle he’ll cover the trees that are bare
And our gardens he’ll trim with his jacket so fair
And our fields he will sow with the hairs on his head
And our grain it will ripen till old Jack is dead

Now the sun is half up and betokens the hour
That the children arrive with their garlands of flowers
So now let the music and dancing begin
And touch the young heart of young Jack in the Green

In 1981, several members of local Cotswold Morris teams decided to perform dances from the Welsh Borders on an occasional basis. They called themselves “Dartford Motley” after the town where practices were held.  The name soon changed to “Motley Morris”.

Motley Morris

Over the coming months I will be featuring details of each of the current revived Jacks in the Green that currently parade each year. 

If anyone has any corrections or further information about any of the Jacks that I feature I would love to hear from you. I would also really appreciate any photographs of any of the Jacks from any of the years they have paraded to add to our Image Archive.


Events 2020 – Jack in the Green – Guildford Bush – TBC

 

Guildford Bush (Revived 1976)

Known as The Guildford Bush, this Jack is accompanied by the Pilgrim Morris Men of Guildford during the annual Summerpole all day event in Guildford. They meet at the bottom of the High street and process to Holy Trinity Church with the Maypole. The Maypole is erected on Castle Green and the dancing involving guest Morris sides begins. This Jack was revived in 1976 by Pilgrim Morris. For many years the Jack was carried by folklorist  George Frampton.

Pilgrim Morris were founded in 1972, during the summer months they dance around Surrey and north-east Hampshire, and occasionally further afield. The Guildford Jack is built from Laurel and usually stands just ten inches higher than the occupant who is “usually somebody of less than average height.” “The activity of the bush depends on the inclination of the carrier. Sometimes it gets in the way of the dancers and entertains the public and at other times it just stands around.

Pilgrim Morrismen

Over the coming months I will be featuring details of each of the current revived Jacks in the Green that currently parade each year. 

If anyone has any corrections or further information about any of the Jacks that I feature I would love to hear from you. I would also really appreciate any photographs of any of the Jacks from any of the years they have paraded to add to our Image Archive.


Events 2020 – Jack in the Green – Knutsford – 2nd May

Knutsford Jack-in-the-Green (Since 1890)

The Knutsford Jack in the Green is probably the oldest continual annual Jack in the Green. Apart from the war years and one recent year it has paraded every year since 1889. May Day in Knutsford (Cheshire) is celebrated over the May Bank holiday weekend. The main focus is the May Queen.

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. The Knutsford Jack was not one of the early Jacks but like many others in the late 19th Century was a much tamed Victorian revival having first appeared in May 1864 “based on earlier traditions and festivities” by the Rev. Robert Clowes the Vicar of Knutsford.

Knutsford Royal Mayday

Over the coming months I will be featuring details of each of the current revived Jacks in the Green that currently parade each year. 

If anyone has any corrections or further information about any of the Jacks that I feature I would love to hear from you. I would also really appreciate any photographs of any of the Jacks from any of the years they have paraded to add to our Image Archive.


Events 2020 – Jack in the Green – Deptford (Fowler’s Troop) – May 1st

Fowlers Troop 2019 Jack in the Green

Deptford (Fowlers Troop) Jack-in-the-Green (Revived 1984)


In 1984 Mo Johnson and Andy Lamb built a Jack-in-the-Green in the back garden of the ‘Dog and Bell’ pub in Deptford. Mo was inspired by a photograph taken by contemporary historian Thankful Sturdee of the original Fowlers troop with their Jack in the Green c.1900. The revived Jack was paraded with Blackheath Morris (a side morphed from the Blackheath Foot’n’Death Men who used to dance at events featuring bands like Hawkwind and the Pink Fairies).

The current Fowlers Troop Jack goes out on the streets of South East London or the City of London each May Day accompanied by the current Fowler’s Troop a wonderful collection of costumed figures. The Deptford Jack often used to meet up with the now rarely sighted City of London Jack in the Green on May Day. When May Day fell on the Bank Holiday Monday both the Deptford and City of London Jacks often went to Hastings to join with the Hastings Jack in the Green in the celebrations. This last occurred in 2012. The Jack stands at around 11 feet tall when lifted. Graham Newson who took on the mantle as keeper and main carrier of the Jack in the early 90’s customised the interior of the Jack to include storage space for essentials including cigarettes, beer tankard a repair kit, a change of clothes and on occasions a set of morris sticks. After 30 years the original frame for the Deptford Jack in the Green (which was funded by Kevin Coyle the late landlord of The Dog and Bell pub) was past its best and so, in 2015, a new metal frame was created specially and paid for from a fund left by the late Doug Adams who was the lead musician of Fowler’s Troop. The Jack was christened at the start of the 2015 May Day procession. The Jack is usually dressed on April 30th at the Dog & Bell pub.

Fowler’s Troop and the Deptford Jack in the Green

Over the coming months I will be featuring details of each of the current revived Jacks in the Green that currently parade each year. 

If anyone has any corrections or further information about any of the Jacks that I feature I would love to hear from you. I would also really appreciate any photographs of any of the Jacks from any of the years they have paraded to add to our Image Archive.


Events 2020 – Jack in the Green – Hammersmith – 1st May

Hammersmith Jack-in-the-Green (Started 2009)

In 2009 Members of Hammersmith Morris created the Hammersmith Jack. This Jack is unique amongst the modern revivals in that it is largely covered with artificial foliage and is therefore relatively lightweight and portable. Each leaf is made from a variety of materials, all of it re-used and recycled. The leaves were created by many different people including local schools and community organisations that Jack has visited as part of its May Day perambulations over the years. As well as leaves made of paper, fabric and plastic, the Jack has other items attached that have some significance to either Hammersmith, the team, or the person who attached it. These can be almost anything, as long as they are small and easily attached to the bamboo and net frame and include jig competition medals, badges, train tickets, melodeon bellows and an iPod! A crown of fresh flowers and foliage is used to top the Jack each year on May 1st.

The Jack is paraded through Hammersmith on May 1st, regardless of which day of the week this falls, and wherever else the Jack visits on this day. This included 2016 when The Hammersmith Jack travelled west by train to appear at dawn in Sherborne, Dorset on May 1st. Jack was back home parading through Hammersmith by lunchtime. When May 1st is a normal weekday then Jack and the team will visit schools and care homes in the local area, as well as local pubs. The Hammersmith Jack in the Green is very much a free spirited urban Jack, having no attendants other than the Morris Dancers and musicians and mostly being left to his own devices. As such the Jack can at times be spotted parading the streets of Hammersmith completely on its own, creating a special kind of gentle mayhem unique to The Hammersmith Jack.

People have reported an earlier incarnations but this is uncorroborated by current team members. On May Day in 1984 the Earls of Essex Morris, with Mick Skrzypiec in their Jack, met at dawn on Wanstead Flats to see the sun rise.  After breakfast they travelled by commuter train into Liverpool Street and started the first City of London Jack-in-the-Green procession. They were joined at the Magog’s pub in Milk Street by the Deptford (Fowler’s Troop) Jack and one other Jack which a member of Fowler’s Troop recalls as being carried by Mike Mullen. Mike danced with Hammersmith Morris but this Jack appears to have been an individual effort by him rather than the work of the team.

The World Famous Hammersmith Morris Men or Smiffs were formed in 1959. Kitted out in blue and gold they continue to entertain audiences around the country with their lively and engaging style.

Hammersmith Morris

 

 

Over the coming months I will be featuring details of each of the current revived Jacks in the Green that currently parade each year. 

If anyone has any corrections or further information about any of the Jacks that I feature I would love to hear from you. I would also really appreciate any photographs of any of the Jacks from any of the years they have paraded to add to our Image Archive.


Events 2020 – Garland – Islington Milk Maid’s Garland – May 1st

Islington Milk Maid’s Garland (Revived 1981)
New Esperance Morris have paraded the Islington Milkmaid’s Garland through Islington every May Day since 1981 when it was first revived with the help of Dave Lobb’s research and inspiration. The Milkmaids Garlands date back to the 17th Century and were the precursor to The Traditional Jack in the Green.

The Islington Milk Maid’s Garland is about five feet tall, and needs two people to carry it. New Esperance also take the Islington Milk Maid’s Garland to Hastings for the Traditional Jack in the Green Bank Holiday each year.

New Esperance Morris (known as Esps to their friends) have been continuing the tradition of women’s Morris dancing in London since the 1970s. They draw on a rich heritage, specifically that of Mary Neal, who set up the first women’s Morris, Esperance Club in 1896 and later became involved with the suffrage movement. New Esperance dance Cotswold Dances in the traditions of Bledington, Fieldtown, Ilmington, and their own Esperance tradition.

New Esperance Morris

Over the coming months I will be featuring details of each of the current revived Jacks in the Green that currently parade each year. 

If anyone has any corrections or further information about any of the Jacks that I feature I would love to hear from you. I would also really appreciate any photographs of any of the Jacks from any of the years they have paraded to add to our Image Archive.


Events 2020 – Jack in the Green – Dead Horse Morris – Friday 1st May

Whitstable (Dead Horse Morris) Jack-in-the-Green


Dead Horse Morris have a Jack-in-the-Green clad entirely in Ivy who takes part in the Dawn Rising celebrations on Whitstable Beach on May 1st each year. He then takes part in the Whitstable May celebrations. The Jack is built of ivy leaves tied together in bunches and then fixed to a light-weight frame. In it’s final form it also boasts a crown.

Dead Horse Morris are a Morris side from Whitstable in Kent made up of the Dead Horse Morris Men and the Broomdashers ladies team. They dance a regional style of the traditional English Morris Dance, although they lean more towards the “Border” style and “Molly Dancing” than the better known bells-and-hankies Cotswold dances.

Dead Horse Morris was formed in 1986 they dance in heavy hob-nailed boots, use short blackthorn sticks and their kit is based on the ordinary working clothes of a local fisherman or dredger of the late 19th Century.

Dead Horse Morris

 

Over the coming months I will be featuring details of each of the current revived Jacks in the Green that currently parade each year. 

If anyone has any corrections or further information about any of the Jacks that I feature I would love to hear from you. I would also really appreciate any photographs of any of the Jacks from any of the years they have paraded to add to our Image Archive.


Events 2020 – Jack in the Green – Brentham – Saturday 9th May

Brentham Jack-in-the-Green (Since 1919)
Brentham has a big celebration every May which includes a Jack in the Green described as a walking talking bush who sometimes parades barefoot and is often formed of exotic foliage. Brentham’s May Day tradition became established in 1919 after the end of the First World War and expanded considerably for 1921 when the first Jack-in-the-Green appeared.  May Day wasn’t celebrated in Brentham between 1927 and 1930 but from 1931 except for the war years, Brentham May Day has had an uninterrupted run.

In 1981 the procession very nearly did not take place. “With just one day to go to the celebrations, the organisers received a letter from Scotland Yard instructing them to observe a 28-day ban on marches in London. Ironically, it seems that “May Day procession” had suggested extreme leftwing intentions to Scotland Yard. With extraordinary speed the May Day organisers arranged a High Court hearing, where the judge was shown photographs of past May Day processions. He concluded that the children “did not look like a very subversive lot”, and he gave permission for the procession to go ahead. In the meantime the police had exempted the procession from the ban, though, curiously, on “religious” grounds. May Day that year will be remembered as the first and only time in the history of the Brentham tradition that prayers were said at the beginning and the end of the proceedings.

Brentham May Day

Over the coming months I will be featuring details of each of the current revived Jacks in the Green that currently parade each year. 

If anyone has any corrections or further information about any of the Jacks that I feature I would love to hear from you. I would also really appreciate any photographs of any of the Jacks from any of the years they have paraded to add to our Image Archive.


Events 2020 – Jack in the Green – Bovey Tracey – 1st May

Bovey Tracey/Grimspound Morris Jack-in-the-Green

The Bovey Tracey Jack-in-the-Green goes out with Grimspound Morris. He can be seen greeting the Mayday dawn up on Haytor and then afterwards puts in an appearance in Bovey Tracey.

Grimspound Morris was formed in 1994 from a group of ex-Cotswold style dancers and a few friends, some of whom were also Rapper Sword dancers. They dance with vigour and in an uncompromising “border” style. Many of their dances are now their own, using figures and movements from that style to create something that is unique to them.

Grimspound Morris

Over the coming months I will be featuring details of each of the current revived Jacks in the Green that currently parade each year. 

If anyone has any corrections or further information about any of the Jacks that I feature I would love to hear from you. I would also really appreciate any photographs of any of the Jacks from any of the years they have paraded to add to our Image Archive.


Events 2020 – Jack in the Green – Winchcombe – 1st May

Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green (Revived 2009)
The Winchcombe (Gloucestershire) Jack was revived on August 31st 2009 as part of “Marking the Year.” A Jack was recorded as visiting a local school by Emma Dent of Sudeley Castle in the 1890’s. The Jack was then resurrected for May Day 2010 and a local May bank holiday village fete and is now awoken  every year at dawn on May Day by Happenstance Border Morris and appears at various events in the following  days. The Winchombe Jack sometimes met up with the Cheltenham Jack-in-the-Green during the years it was active.

Happenstance is a mixed Border Morris side dancing to live music. They are based in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire nestling in the shadow of Cleeve Hill

Happenstance Morris

 

Over the coming months I will be featuring details of each of the current revived Jacks in the Green that currently parade each year. 

If anyone has any corrections or further information about any of the Jacks that I feature I would love to hear from you. I would also really appreciate any photographs of any of the Jacks from any of the years they have paraded to add to our Image Archive.


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


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.


Events for May 2019

May Day is nearly here and across the world the Traditional Jack in the Green is beginning to wake!

Listed below are all known annual events for May 2019 that feature The traditional Jack-in-the-Green or The Green Man throughout the UK. This list will be regularly updated on 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 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.

The picture above is of the 2017 Hammersmith Jack-in-the-Green

MAY

Deptford (Fowlers Troop) Jack-in-the-Green (1st May)

The Fowlers Troop Jack was revived in the early 1980’s by members of the Blackheath Morris Men and friends. It is a revival of a Jack in the Green from about 1900 which was paraded by the original Fowlers Troop. In 1983 Mo Johnson made a Jack-in-the-Green in the back garden of the ‘Dog and Bell’ and Blackheath Morris (a side morphed from the Blackheath Foot’n’Death Men who used to dance at events featuring bands like Hawkwind and the Pink Fairies) revived the Deptford (Fowlers Troop) Jack. Mo was inspired by one of Thankful Sturdee’s photographs c.1900 of the original troop and Jack.

Deptford Jack in the Green

Blue Bell Hill (Rochester Sweeps) Jack-in-the-Green (1st May)

The Rochester Jack was revived in 1981 by Gordon Newton and Boughton Monchelsea Morris who were inspired from accounts by Charles Dickens. Custodianship of Jack was passed to Motley Morris in 1984 who now wake Jack with various other Morris sides at dawn on May Morning (approximately 5:32am) at the Bluebell Hill picnic area, surrounded by twelve bonfires. Jack is paraded through the streets of Rochester usually on the bank holiday Monday as part of the Sweeps Festival.

Motley Morris

Oxford Jack-in-the-Green (1st May)

The Oxford Jack is usually first seen near Magdalen Tower just before 6am and leads an informal procession up ‘The High’ to Radcliffe Square, where the first dance of the day: “Bonny Green” from Bucknell, starts at about 6.25am. OUMM (Oxford University Morris Men) introduced Jack-in-the-Green to their May Morning festivities in 1951. At that time they were unaware that a Jack-in-the-Green was a common sight in and around Oxford in the 19th century.

Oxford Jack in the Green

Hammersmith Jack-in-the-Green (1st May)

The Hammersmith Jack, is a wonderful urban Jack, largely covered with artificial foliage, although it does have a crown of fresh flowers on May 1st. The leaves are made in a variety of materials, some created by children at local schools that the Jack visits as part of its May Day perambulations. As well as leaves made of paper, fabric and plastic, the Jack has other items attached that have some significance to either Hammersmith, the team, or the person who attached it. The Hammersmith Jack is paraded through Hammersmith on May 1st, regardless of which day of the week this falls, and wherever else the Jack visits on this day. The rest of the year the Hammersmith Jack is stored at Cecil Sharp House the home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society where he sometimes takes part in events.

Hammersmith Morris Jack-in-the-Green

Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green (1st May)

The Winchcombe (Gloucestershire) Jack was revived on August 31st 2009 as part of “Marking the Year.” A Jack was recorded as visiting a local school by Emma Dent of Sudeley Castle in the 1890’s. The Jack was then resurrected for May Day 2010 and a local May bank holiday village fete and is now awoken every year at dawn (5:20am) on May Day up on Cleeve Hill by Happenstance Border Morris. The Winchcombe Jack appears at various events over the following days.

Happenstance Morris

Dead Horse Morris Jack-in-the-Green (1st May)

Dead Horse Morris have a Jack-in-the-Green clad entirely in Ivy who takes part in the Dawn Rising celebrations on Beacon Hill, Whitstable at 5am on May 1st. The Dead Horse Morris Jack-in-the-Green also usually puts in an appearance at the Whitstable May Day Parade.

Dead Horse Morris

Bovey Tracey Jack-in-the-Green (1st May)

The Bovey Tracey Jack-in-the-Green goes out with Grimspound Border Morris. He can be seen greeting the Mayday dawn up on Haytor and then afterwards puts in an appearance in Bovey Tracey.

Bovey Tracey 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brentham May Day and Jack-in-the-Green (Saturday 11th May)

Brentham has a big celebration every May which includes a Jack in the Green described as a walking talking bush who sometimes parades barefoot. Brentham’s May Day tradition became established in 1919 after the end of the First World War and expanded considerably for 1921 when the first Jack-in-the-Green appeared.

Brentham Jack in the Green

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

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

Oak House Green Man – West Bromwich (Sunday 12th May)

Oak House in West Bromwich have their own Green Man as part of an annual spring event where they banish the winter and welcome spring.

Oak House Green Man

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!”

Bradford on Avon Green Man Festival

Castleton Garland Day (May 29th)

Castleton Garland Day or Garland King Day is held annually on 29 May (unless that date falls on a Sunday, when the custom is transferred to the Saturday) in the town of Castleton in the Derbyshire Peak District. The Garland King, on horseback, and covered to the waist in a heavy, bell-shaped floral garland, leads a procession through the town.

The date of the custom coincides with Oak Apple Day and it is said to commemorate the restoration of King Charles II in 1660. Presumably the Garland is meant to represent the oak tree in which he hid after the Battle of Worcester. Some folklorists suspect that it is actually a much older custom that transferred from May Day as many May celebrations did after having been banned by the Puritans. The Garland King certainly resembles a kind of Jack in the Green.

Castleton Garland

 

The Company of the Green Man cannot be held responsible for any mistakes regarding the dates, times, locations or any cancellations of any of the above events. Please note that The Company of the Green man does not organise any of the above events. If you have any queries please contact the event organisers or go to their own websites.


Annual Events 2019

 

May Day is drawing closer and the dates for this years magical Jack-in-the-Green and Green Man events are being finalised.

Listed below are all known annual events for 2019/20 that feature The traditional Jack-in-the-Green or The Green Man throughout the UK. This list will be regularly updated on 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. 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 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.

 

MAY

 

Deptford (Fowlers Troop) Jack-in-the-Green (1st May)

The Fowlers Troop Jack was revived in the early 1980’s by members of the Blackheath Morris Men and friends. It is a revival of a Jack in the Green from about 1900 which was paraded by the original Fowlers Troop. In 1983 Mo Johnson made a Jack-in-the-Green in the back garden of the ‘Dog and Bell’ and Blackheath Morris (a side morphed from the Blackheath Foot’n’Death Men who used to dance at events featuring bands like Hawkwind and the Pink Fairies) revived the Deptford (Fowlers Troop) Jack. Mo was inspired by one of Thankful Sturdee’s photographs c.1900 of the original troop and Jack.

Deptford Jack in the Green

 

Blue Bell Hill (Rochester Sweeps) Jack-in-the-Green (1st May)

The Rochester Jack was revived in 1981 by Gordon Newton and Boughton Monchelsea Morris who were inspired from accounts by Charles Dickens. Custodianship of Jack was passed to Motley Morris in 1984 who now wake Jack with various other Morris sides at dawn on May Morning (approximately 5:32am) at the Bluebell Hill picnic area, surrounded by twelve bonfires.  Jack is paraded through the streets of Rochester usually on the bank holiday Monday as part of the Sweeps Festival.

Motley Morris

 

Oxford Jack-in-the-Green (1st May)

The Oxford Jack is usually first seen near Magdalen Tower just before 6am and leads an informal procession up ‘The High’ to Radcliffe Square, where the first dance of the day: “Bonny Green” from Bucknell, starts at about 6.25am. OUMM (Oxford University Morris Men) introduced Jack-in-the-Green to their May Morning festivities in 1951. At that time they were unaware that a Jack-in-the-Green was a common sight in and around Oxford in the 19th century.

Oxford Jack in the Green

 

Hammersmith Jack-in-the-Green (1st May)

The Hammersmith Jack, is a wonderful urban Jack, largely covered with artificial foliage, although it does have a crown of fresh flowers on May 1st. The leaves are made in a variety of materials, some created by children at local schools that the Jack visits as part of its May Day perambulations. As well as leaves made of paper, fabric and plastic, the Jack has other items attached that have some significance to either Hammersmith, the team, or the person who attached it. The Hammersmith Jack is paraded through Hammersmith on May 1st, regardless of which day of the week this falls, and wherever else the Jack visits on this day. The rest of the year the Hammersmith Jack is stored at Cecil Sharp House the home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society where he sometimes takes part in events.

Hammersmith Morris Jack-in-the-Green

 

Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green (1st May)

The Winchcombe (Gloucestershire) Jack was revived on August 31st 2009 as part of “Marking the Year.” A Jack was recorded as visiting a local school by Emma Dent of Sudeley Castle in the 1890’s. The Jack was then resurrected for May Day 2010 and a local May bank holiday village fete and is now awoken  every year at dawn (5:20am) on May Day up on Cleeve Hill by Happenstance Border Morris. The Winchcombe Jack appears at various events over the following  days.

Happenstance Morris

 

Dead Horse Morris Jack-in-the-Green (1st May)

Dead Horse Morris have a Jack-in-the-Green clad entirely in Ivy who takes part in the Dawn Rising celebrations on Beacon Hill, Whitstable at 5am on May 1st. The Dead Horse Morris Jack-in-the-Green also usually puts in an appearance at the Whitstable May Day Parade.

Dead Horse Morris

 

Bovey Tracey Jack-in-the-Green (1st May)

The Bovey Tracey Jack-in-the-Green goes out with Grimspound Border Morris. He can be seen greeting the Mayday dawn up on Haytor and then afterwards puts in an appearance in Bovey Tracey.

Bovey Tracey 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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Brentham May Day and Jack-in-the-Green (Saturday 11th May)

Brentham has a big celebration every May which includes a Jack in the Green described as a walking talking bush who sometimes parades barefoot. Brentham’s May Day tradition became established in 1919 after the end of the First World War and expanded considerably for 1921 when the first Jack-in-the-Green appeared.

Brentham Jack in the Green

 

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

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

 

Oak House Green Man – West Bromwich (Sunday 12th May)

Oak House in West Bromwich have their own Green Man as part of an annual spring event where they banish the winter and welcome spring.

Oak House Green Man

 

Castleton Garland Day (May 29th)

Castleton Garland Day or Garland King Day is held annually on 29 May (unless that date falls on a Sunday, when the custom is transferred to the Saturday) in the town of Castleton in the Derbyshire Peak District. The Garland King, on horseback, and covered to the waist in a heavy, bell-shaped floral garland, leads a procession through the town.

The date of the custom coincides with Oak Apple Day and it is said to commemorate the restoration of King Charles II in 1660. Presumably the Garland is meant to represent the oak tree in which he hid after the Battle of Worcester. Some folklorists suspect that it is actually a much older custom that transferred from May Day as many May celebrations did after having been banned by the Puritans. The Garland King certainly resembles a kind of Jack in the Green.

Castleton Garland

 

Yaxley (Cambridgeshire) Jack-in-the-Green (?)

The Yaxley Jack-in-the-Green started in 2013 and lead the Yaxley May parade. He was accompanied by Sap-Engro and Copperface as well as an attendant wearing the original Ancient Order of the Foresters sash, worn in the village’s parades in the nineteenth and early twentieth century and a host of boggarts – the mischievous imps of Fenland lore. It became a bi-annual event as part of the Yaxley Festival but sadly no sightings were reported in 2018. If anyone knows if the Jack will be part of this years Yaxley Festival or indeed if he was spotted last year please do let us know.

Yaxley Jack-in-the-Green

 

JULY

Green Man Day—Pilton Festival (Barnstaple) (Saturday 20th July)

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

AUGUST

Pagan Pride Parade (TBC)

The Beltane Bash / Pagan Pride Parade Jack-in-the-Green has not paraded since the 2011 London Pagan Pride Parade. The London parade was usually led by traditional giants, the Jack-in-the-Green and Bogies. The Nottingham Pagan Pride Parade will be taking place in August again this year and I would love to hear from any participants or organisers who might know if a Jack-in-the-Green will be participating.

Pagan Pride Parade

 

The Burryman South Queensferry Scotland (August 9th)

The Burryman is the central figure in an annual ceremony or ritual, the Burryman’s Parade, that takes place on the second Friday of August. It is sometimes said that the custom was first recorded in 1687 but it is widely believed to be much older. A local man is covered from head to ankles in burrs of two species of burdock that grow locally. The stickiness of his burry covering means that he has to walk awkwardly, with legs apart and arms held out sideways, but he is nevertheless paraded around a seven-mile route through South Queensferry for nine hours or more. Only men born in the village can take on the role of the Burryman. Although local residents must apply annually to the local council for the honour. He supports his aching arms on waist-high poles decorated with flowers. Two attendants (dressed in normal clothing guide him through the town and help him through his ordeal. They visit the town’s pubs, some factories, and the provost’s house, at each of which the Burryman is given a drink of whisky, but because of his sticky facial covering he can only drink through a straw. He is not allowed to speak. By the end of the day he is exhausted.

The Burryman

 

SEPTEMBER

Carshalton Straw Jack (TBC)

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)

Carshalton Straw Jack

 

2020

 

JANUARY 

Twelfth Night Celebrations (TBC)

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. The extraordinary Holly Man, the Winter guise of the Green Man appears from the River Thames brought by a Thames Cutter, Followed by wassailing a mummers play and other festivities.

Twelfth Night Celebrations

 

Whittlesea Straw Bear (TBC)

The festival of the Straw Bear or “Strawbower” is an old custom known only from a small area of Fenland on the borders of Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire. On Plough Tuesday, the day after the first Monday after Twelfth Night, a man or a boy would be covered from head to foot in straw and led from house to house where he would dance in exchange for gifts of money, food or beer. The festival was of a stature that farmers would often reserve their best straw for the making of the bear. The custom died out in about 1909, probably because the local police regarded it as begging, but it was resurrected by the Whittlesea Society in 1980.

The festival has now expanded to cover the whole weekend when the Bear appears (not Plough Tuesday nowadays, but the second weekend in January instead). On the Saturday of the festival, the Bear processes around the streets with its attendant “keeper” and musicians, followed by numerous traditional dance sides (mostly visitors), including morris men and women, molly dancers, rapper and longsword dancers, clog dancers and others, who perform at various points along the route. The Bear is usually accompanied by a regular Morris Green Man. The bear “costume” is burned at a ceremony on Sunday lunchtime.

Whittlesea Straw Bear

 

The Company of the Green Man cannot be held responsible for any mistakes regarding the dates, times, locations or any cancellations of any of the above events. Please note that The Company of the Green man does not organise any of the above events. If you have any queries please contact the event organisers or go to their own websites.


Whittlesea Straw Bear Festival

If any of our members or blog follows are heading off to Whittlesea next weekend to see the wonderful Straw Bear Festival please do send us some photos of the event for the blog and archives. More information about the event and timings can be found at www.strawbear.org.uk


Bibliography

Our updated bibliography of books on The Green Man and The Traditional Jack-in-the-Green is available to view HERE where a downloadable copy is also available.

We welcome information on books that we have yet to source or that do not appear in our bibliography.


The Rumford Morris Jack-in-the-Green

Rumford Morris Men and Royal Liberty of Havering 1977

The history of the revival of the Jack in the Green in the 20th Century is extremely complicated as anyone who has read my article The Traditional Jack in the Green will know. Some revivals were linked directly with or inspired by others whilst many popped up completely unconnected. Every now and then I discover another little piece of the jigsaw puzzle. I was really surprised and delighted when Paul Woloschuk contacted me to let me know about the Green Man that his old Morris side used to have and to send me the wonderful pictures on this post.

Paul wrote “Rumford Morris Men from Essex used to have a Green Man (which we called Jack in the Green) back in the mid-1970s. Our Jack in the Green wore a boiler suit (dyed green) upon which were sewn dozens of cotton strips of differing shades of green cut into the shape of Oak leaves. The leaves were cut from sample material cadged from a Laura Ashley shop. So, the material was not only different shades, but was of various pattern (striped, paisley etc.) Jack also wore a pith helmet adorned with long strips of the same material hanging down and covering his face and extending down to his chest. Apparently, it was extremely warm to wear, and Jack often had to be refreshed with lots of ale to prevent wilting! Jack was the idea of one of our members. The bloke who appeared as Jack left the side after four or five years, and nobody carried on with the character.”

Trying to work out where this Jack fitted I asked Paul if they had any connections with Greenwood Morris or the Earls of Essex both of whom started Jacks in the 1970’s? Paul confirmed that “We had no historic connections with any local traditions or other sides. Jack was out with us from May Day throughout the summer. We didn’t know Greenwood Morris, but we often danced with the Earls of Essex (and I used to play regularly with the wonderful late Dave Roberts from the Earls both in ceilidh bands and at Folk Camps).

So it would seem that this is another example of those wonderful Jacks that sprang out of nowhere in the 1970s. I would love to hear from anyone who can fill in more detail on any of the Jacks or indeed make any corrections to my article.

Rumford Morris Men canal trip Stoke Bruerne Northamptonshire 1979