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

Posts tagged “Jack in the Green

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


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.


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.


Carshalton Straw Jack

I’m extremely pleased to announce that the magical Carshalton Straw Jack paraded today. My thanks to Simon Webster for permission to use his wonderful picture. The Carshalton Jack is the 18th Jack to parade this year. I would love to learn a bit more about this unusual Jack and it’s history if any of the organisers or participants read this post.


#FolkloreThursday Article

Rochester Sweeps Festival Jack-in-the-Green 2017 © Clem Rutter

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 – Green Man & Lady

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


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

Deptford (Fowlers Troop) Jack in the Green 2018 © Bob Barton

The magical Fowler’s Troop (Deptford) Jack-in-the-Green was spotted today parading in Deptford and Greenwich. My thanks to Bob Barton for allowing me to reproduce this wonderful picture.

In 1983 Mo Johnson built a Jack-in-the-Green in the back garden of the ‘Dog and Bell’ pub . An off shoot of the Covent Garden Jack 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 was past its best and so, in 2015, a new metal frame was created specially and paid for from a fund left by 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.

If you spot a Jack in the Green please do send me in a picture for us to share on our blog and add to our free online Flickr archive where I hope to be able to add a picture of every Traditional Jack in the Green from every year.


Bluebell Hill (Rochester Sweeps) Jack-in-the-Green

Bluebell Hill Jack-in-the-Green 2018 © Tom Phillips

I’m delighted to be able to report that the Bluebell Hill (Rochester Sweeps) Jack in the Green was sighted on Bluebell Hill at dawn this morning. Jack will travel down to Rochester to take part in the Sweeps Festival over the Bank Holiday weekend. My thanks to Tom Phillips for permission to reproduce his fantastic picture.

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 paraded through the streets of Rochester 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.”


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 2018 a number of Jacks-in -the-Green will be waking across the UK. They will parade around towns, villages and cities bringing the summer and “Jacks Magic” with them.

If you are lucky enough to see a Jack in the Green please do take a picture and send it to me to share with visitors to our blog from around the world.

The incredible picture below is “Jack in the Green” by Hastings artist Dan Pearce, it is oil on board 155 x 105 cms. To see more of Dan’s art go to http://www.danpearce.graphics/ I am extremely grateful to Dan for allowing me to reproduce his picture here on our blog.

Jack in the Green © Dan Pearce 2017