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

Jack in the Green

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.