Wishing all members and followers of The Company of the Green Man a Very Merry Yule. My thanks to everyone for all the contributions and support during 2018.
Here is a picture of my favourite seasonal Green Men from the roof of Salisbury Cathedral…I’m still convinced he is wearing a Santa hat!
Blacksmith Andrew Findlay kindly sent me this picture of an incredible Green Man that he crafted. Andrew wrote “One I made using blacksmithing techniques which I thought may be of interest. I became a blacksmith because the process of creating in the forge is spiritual, alchemical and elemental all at the same time. A magical experience. Using the transforming fire we shape a sterile, cold and hard material into beautiful and permanent organic forms.”
You can see more of Andrews work at http://www.andrew-findlay.com
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.
I still can’t quite believe that 2018 marks 20 years of The Company of the Green Man! Ronald Millar wrote the book “The Green Man Companion and Gazetteer” in 1997 and in a note at the back of the book invited interested people to join The Company of the Green Man. Keen and eager upon reading his freshly printed book and with an avid interest in Green Men I wrote to Ron in early 1998 and asked to join the Company, to be told that I had caught him slightly unprepared. The book had gone out earlier than he had anticipated and the Company did not yet officially exist. And thus (with a little bit of encouragement) in 1998 The Company officially began. Ron’s first newsletter was published in September 1998.
20 years and 43 newsletters later The Company is still going strong with nearly 800 members worldwide. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our members and followers for their contributions and encouragement over the years, without you The Company of the Green Man would not exist.
Here’s to the next 20 years!
My Traditional Jack in the Green article has gone live today on the wonderful #FolkloreThursday website www.folklorethursday.com
My thanks to Dee Dee and the team for featuring it and helping to raise the profile of this magical living tradition #jackinthegreen
Amanda Bates is an artist, based in Kingsclere north Hampshire, with a growing interest in the tradition of the Green Man. One of the things to spark that interest was a chance visit to St. Peter’s in Upper Wolhampton, West Berkshire, where she found a delightful pair of Victorian Green Man stone carvings on the exterior of the church that were previously undiscovered.
Amanda didn’t have a camera with her so instead recorded them in pencil (above). Amanda then created the wonderful pictures accompanying this post using Acrylic Ink on rough watercolour paper, entitled Green Man & Green Lady.
Amanda wrote: “The faces are Victorian (the church was rebuilt in 1857) and, with their surroundings of leaves, the gentleman’s leafy moustache and the vegetation emerging from the lady’s mouth, are in the Green Man tradition. I fancy that they might represent the local landowner and his wife.”
My thanks to Amanda for getting in touch and sharing her incredible work with us. You can see more of Amanda’s work on her website: www.amandabatesart.co.uk All pictures copyright © Amanda Bates
I’m grateful to Derek Penrose for letting me know about this Green Man with a fascinating history and for sending in this wonderful picture. St Telio’s Church was originally located at Llandeilo Tal-y-bont, Glamorgan in Wales. It was built in the late 12th century and furnished in 1530. Between 1984 and 1985 the whole church was dismantled and moved to St Fagans National History Museum.
The following is from St Fagans own website:
“St Teilo’s church is believed to have been built during the late 12th or 13th century on the site of an earlier Celtic church. Over the ensuing centuries the building was altered and extended.
The oldest parts of the present structure are the nave and chancel. During the 14th century, small chapels were built onto the north and south sides of the chancel, and during the late 14th or early 15th century the church’s capacity was increased by the addition of an aisle to the south side of the nave. The old south wall was replaced by two arches, with a third arch opening into the chancel, and finally, a porch was added to the entrance door leading into the south aisle of the church.
The roof timbers are of typical early fifteenth century design (arch-braced collar-beams), though they may in fact be slightly later in date. The west wall of the nave was altered in the early 18th century (datestone 1736) and in 1810 the interior was furnished with box pews and a three-decker pulpit. Most of the stone-mullioned windows appear to have been blocked up at this time, and were replaced by new ‘Georgian gothic’ lancet-shaped windows. One original two-light stone-mullioned window (14/15th) survived in the south aisle. Probably the oldest surviving feature of the church is the stone font which is believed to date from the 13th century or earlier.
St Teilo’s church has been refurbished as it may have appeared about the year 1530, complete with all the elements associated with a late medieval Catholic church, including a rood screen and loft (between the nave and chancel), altars, carvings and brightly-coloured paintings on all the walls.”
You can find more information about St Telio’s Church and all of the wonderful Historical Buildings at St Fagans National History Museum here: https://museum.wales/stfagans/
My thanks to Vanessa Piggott for sending in this picture of a cast iron Green Man on a sideboard she discovered in St Mary’s Museum on the Scilly Isles. The sideboard is from the wreck of the Thomas W. Lawson a seven-masted, steel-hulled schooner used to haul coal and oil along the East Coast of the United States. She was launched in 1902 and holds the distinction of being the largest schooner and largest sailing vessel without an auxiliary engine ever built. The Thomas W. Lawson was destroyed off the uninhabited island of Annet, in the Isles of Scilly, in a storm on December 14, 1907, killing all but two of her eighteen crew and a harbor pilot already aboard. Her cargo of 58,000 barrels of light paraffin oil caused perhaps the first large marine oil spill in history.
Wishing all members of The Company of the Green Man and all visitors to our blog a fantastic Yuletide Season. (And yes it is a real Green Man – No photoshopping!)
Clive Hicks-Jenkins is devising a series of fourteen prints based on the medieval verse drama, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – a classic vividly translated for the 21st century by Simon Armitage. Clive has kindly given me permission to reproduce one of the images on our blog each month.
Clive’s work often features some wonderful representations of the foliate Green Man. If you can track down a copy of Marly Youman’s wonderful book “The Foliate Head” I highly recommend it for Marly’s beautiful poetry and Clive’s wonderful illustrations of The Green Man that appear throughout the book.
You can find more information on Clive’s website: http://www.hicks-jenkins.com