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

Posts tagged “Jack in the Green

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! ❤️ 🌿


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


Annual Events 2018

May Day is very nearly upon us and the times and dates for this years wonderful Jack-in-the-Green events have been finalised. Please do go out and support this magical living folklore.

Listed below are all known annual events for 2018 that feature The traditional Jack-in-the-Green or The Green Man throughout the UK. I would be extremely grateful if anyone who attends any of these events would send me pictures, videos or written accounts for our free 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.

 

2018

  

MAY

 

 

Deptford (Fowlers Troop) Jack-in-the-Green (Tuesday 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 (Tuesday 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 (Tuesday 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 (Tuesday 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 (Tuesday 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 (Tuesday 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 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 (Tuesday 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 5th 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 5th 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. The parade will commence 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 (Saturday 5th May)

Ilfracombe’s Jack-in-the-Green will parade on Sunday 30th April. 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. In 2017 the parade will be held on Sunday 30th April. The Muster will begin at 11:00am at the Pier Car Park. The parade will start at 11:30am from the Pier Tavern Pub. The route is along The Quay, St James Place, Ropery Road, Broad Street, Fore Street, High Street, Northfield Road and along Wilder Road to the Clapping Circle next to Wildersmouth Beach/Capstone. This means that not only have some of the roads changed but the parade will be in the opposite direction to previous years. At the clapping circle ‘Jack-in-the-Green’ will be “Stripped of his leafy coverings to release the ‘spirit of summer.'” This years parade will also feature a horned god giant as well as seeing the return of a maypole.

Ilfracombe Jack in the Green

 

Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green (Monday 7th 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 Gathering usually begins at 9:45am and Jack is “released” from the Fisherman’s Museum on Rock-a-Nore Road at approximately 10:15am . Jack is released in a wonderful, magical ceremony and is central to the festival and the parade. At the end of the day (3:30pm) Jack is slain to release the spirit of summer. The festival takes place over the whole bank holiday weekend.

Hastings Jack-in-the-Green Festival

 

Bristol Jack in the Green (Saturday 5th 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 5th 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 (Saturday 5th- Monday 7th 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 6th & Monday 7th 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

Clun Green Man Festival

 

Brentham May Day and Jack-in-the-Green (Saturday 12th 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 (May weekend 5th-7th May)

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

 

Yaxley (Cambridgeshire) Jack-in-the-Green (TBC- still no confirmation from the organisers this year that Jack will be attending)

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. This is now a bi-annual event so should take place in 2018. The Yaxley Jack may still be seen elsewhere on other years.

Yaxley Jack-in-the-Green

 

JULY

Green Man Day—Pilton Festival (Barnstaple) (Saturday 21st 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 (August 6th)

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

SEPTEMBER

Carshalton Straw Jack (TBC)

A Celebration of Harvest this takes place in September each year. The straw Jack is ritually stripped in the evening so that all present can take a keepsake and then he is burnt in a brazier. It is hoped that he will be burnt as a complete figure one year.

Carshalton Straw Jack

 

2019

 

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

 

The Company of the Green Man cannot be held responsible for any mistakes regarding the dates, times or locations 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. 


Annual Events 2018

As the snow gives way to yet more liquid sunshine in the UK we can but hope that Spring is finally on it’s way and look forward to all this years wonderful annual Jack in the Green and Green Man related events.

Listed below are all known annual events for 2018/19 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 HERE. I would be extremely grateful if anyone who attends any of these events would send me 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.

 

2018

  

MAY

 

 

Deptford (Fowlers Troop) Jack-in-the-Green (Tuesday 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 (Tuesday 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 (Tuesday 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 (Tuesday 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 (Tuesday 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 (Tuesday 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 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 (Tuesday 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 5th 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 5th 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. The parade will commence 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 (Saturday 5th May)

Ilfracombe’s Jack-in-the-Green will parade on Sunday 30th April. 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. In 2017 the parade will be held on Sunday 30th April. The Muster will begin at 11:00am at the Pier Car Park. The parade will start at 11:30am from the Pier Tavern Pub. The route is along The Quay, St James Place, Ropery Road, Broad Street, Fore Street, High Street, Northfield Road and along Wilder Road to the Clapping Circle next to Wildersmouth Beach/Capstone. This means that not only have some of the roads changed but the parade will be in the opposite direction to previous years. At the clapping circle ‘Jack-in-the-Green’ will be “Stripped of his leafy coverings to release the ‘spirit of summer.'” This years parade will also feature a horned god giant as well as seeing the return of a maypole.

Ilfracombe Jack in the Green

 

Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green (Monday 7th 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 Gathering usually begins at 9:45am and Jack is “released” from the Fisherman’s Museum on Rock-a-Nore Road at approximately 10:15am . Jack is released in a wonderful, magical ceremony and is central to the festival and the parade. At the end of the day (3:30pm) Jack is slain to release the spirit of summer. The festival takes place over the whole bank holiday weekend.

Hastings Jack-in-the-Green Festival

 

Bristol Jack in the Green (Saturday 5th 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 5th 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 (Saturday 5th- Monday 7th 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 6th & Monday 7th 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

Clun Green Man Festival

 

Brentham May Day and Jack-in-the-Green (Saturday 12th 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 (May weekend 5th-7th May)

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

 

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

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. This is now a bi-annual event so should take place in 2018. The Yaxley Jack may still be seen elsewhere on other years.

Yaxley Jack-in-the-Green

 

JULY

Green Man Day—Pilton Festival (Barnstaple) (Saturday 21st 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 (August 6th)

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

SEPTEMBER

Carshalton Straw Jack (TBC)

A Celebration of Harvest this takes place in September each year. The straw Jack is ritually stripped in the evening so that all present can take a keepsake and then he is burnt in a brazier. It is hoped that he will be burnt as a complete figure one year.

Carshalton Straw Jack

 

2019

 

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

 

The Company of the Green Man cannot be held responsible for any mistakes regarding the dates, times or locations 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. 


2017 Jack-in-the-Green update

I can now confirm that a spectacular nineteen Jacks have been spotted so far this year!

They are:

  • The Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Oxford Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Whitstable Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Ilfracombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Bovey Tracey (Grimspound Morris) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Fowlers Troop (Deptford) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Hever Castle Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Hammersmith Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Guildford Bush
  • The Bluebell Hill (Rochester Sweeps) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Highworth Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Dead Horse Morris (Whitstable) Jack-in-the-Green
  • Kentwell Hall (Suffolk) Jack O’Green
  • Wythenshawe Hall (Manchester) Jack ‘O’ Green
  • The Bristol Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Knutsford Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Brentham Jack-in-the-Gree
  • The Isehara (Japan) Jack-in-the-Green

And on September 2nd the wonderful Carshalton Harvest Jack in the Green will parade bringing the total number of 2017 Jacks to 20.

Full details and links can be found on our Annual Events Page

As you will see from the posts below I’ve received pictures of a number of Jacks for which I am extremely grateful, but please do keep them coming. I’m more than happy to receive multiple pictures of each Jack for our online photographic archive to help record these wonderful events. It is my intention to create an archive of pictures of every Jack from every year.

There are a few Jacks that I’ve not yet received pictures for and would be extremely grateful if any readers can help to source. They are:

  • The Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Hever Castle Jack-in-the-Green
  • Kentwell Hall (Suffolk) Jack O’Green
  • Wythenshawe Hall (Manchester) Jack ‘O’ Green

And if you know of another Jack in the Green that I’ve missed please do get in touch.

I’m extremely grateful to Rose Blakeley for sending me her wonderful and incredibly atmospheric photographs of  this years Hastings Traditional Jack in the Green that accompany this post.


Grand Hama Morris Jack in the Green


I’m delighted to announce that a new Jack in the Green went out this year. The Grand Hama Morris Jack-in-the-Green paraded in the city of Isehara in Japan accompanied by the Grand Hama Morris team who are based in Kanagawa, Japan and were established in 2015.

I’m having a little bit of trouble translating information about Grand Hama Morris but would love to know more if any members of Grand Hama Morris read this post and could get in touch with me please.


Brentham May Day Jack in the Green

I’m very pleased to report that the Brentham May Day Jack-in-the -Green was sighted and photographed in the Garden Suburb of Brentham in West London yesterday. My thanks to @MPSClevelandHob for a great picture.

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.


Bristol Jack in the Green

I’m delighted to report that the magical Bristol Jack-in-the-Green paraded through the highways and byways of Bristol spreading joy and Jacks magic in equal measure.

My thanks to Roger Hinchliffe @cow_photography for permission to use his fantastic pictures.

The Bristol Jack in the Green was revived by Pigsty Morris in 1992 and is a scion of the Hastings Traditional Jack. The Bristol Jack appears on the first Saturday in May starting from the historic harbourside (outside the M Shed). Jack is “awoken” by his green clad attendants in an evocative ceremony on the harbourside and then leads a magical six hour procession through the streets of Bristol. The Bristol Jack is nine feet tall and is top with a crown of flowers, he can be difficult to control, his attendants often have to keep him from chasing members of the public. Jacks attendants distribute Jacks magic (often mistaken for green face paint) amongst those watching him along the route. The Bristol Jack in the Green’s route varies slightly each year but he normally passes through St Nicholas Market where he dances before pausing for a well earned pint at The Crown. The day always ends on Horfield Common where large crowds gather to witness the slaying of Jack  to release the spirit of summer. Jacks leaves are then distributed to the watching crowd. In 1861, the Western Daily Press reported that: “Throughout the city and Clifton there was the usual visitation of Royalty – perhaps a more plentiful crop of Kings and Queens than in former years – and Jack in the Green, with a band of music and a cohort of gaily dressed fraternal spirits, paraded the thoroughfares and drew much attention.” A Jack-in-the-Green was also recorded in Bristol around 1865 by a lady who remembered seeing him with a sweep and a queen on the outskirts.


Hammersmith Jack-in-the-Green

I’m delighted to report that the Hammersmith Jack was spotted out and about on May Day. My thanks to Brixton Windmill for permission to reproduce their photo.

On May Day in 1984 a Jack carried by Mike Mullen of Hammersmith Morris joined a number of other Jacks at the Magog’s pub in Milk Street. The trail of the Hammersmith Jack then goes cold for 25 years until 2009 when Members of Hammersmith Morris created their Jack in it’s current form possibly unaware of its earlier incarnation. The Hammersmith Jack, is 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. These can be almost anything, as long as they are small and easily attached to the bamboo and net frame. The overall appearance of the Hammersmith Jack is quite spectacular. 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, in some of which the children will have made leaves out of paper to attach to Jack. There are no attendants other than the Morris Dancers and musicians. 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.


2017 Jack-in-the-Green update

Jack in the Green © Dan Pearce 2017

In a spectacular start to this years Jack in the Green season I can confirm that fifteen Jacks have been spotted so far! They are:

  • The Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Oxford Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Whitstable Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Ilfracombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Bovey Tracey (Grimspound Morris) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Fowlers Troop (Deptford) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Hever Castle Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Hammersmith Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Guildford Bush
  • The Bluebell Hill (Rochester Sweeps) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Highworth Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Dead Horse Morris (Whitstable) Jack-in-the-Green
  • Kentwell Hall (Suffolk) Jack O’Green
  • Wythenshawe Hall (Manchester) Jack ‘O’ Green

There are still at least three Jacks to come including:

  • The Bristol Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Knutsford Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Brentham Jack-in-the-Green

Full details and links can be found on our Annual Events Page

As you will see from the posts below I’ve received pictures of a number of Jacks for which I am extremely grateful, but please do keep them coming. I’m more than happy to receive multiple pictures of each Jack for our online photographic archive to help record these wonderful events. It is my intention to create an archive of pictures of every Jack from every year.

There are a few Jacks that I’ve not yet received pictures for and would be extremely grateful if any readers can help to source. They are:

  • The Hammersmith Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Dead Horse Morris (Whitstable) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Hever Castle Jack-in-the-Green
  • Kentwell Hall (Suffolk) Jack O’Green
  • Wythenshawe Hall (Manchester) Jack ‘O’ Green

And if you know of another Jack in the Green that I’ve missed please do get in touch.

And as a magical May Day ends for those who missed it this morning above is Hastings Artist Dan Pearce’s incredibly atmospheric picture “Jack in the Green” 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.


Whitstable Jack-in-the-Green

The wonderful Whitstable (Oyster Morris) Jack in the Green paraded through the town of Whitstable in Kent today. My thanks to Barry O’Brien for letting me use his pictures here.

A Jack-in-the-Green was revived for the Whitstable Folk Festival in 1976 and 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.  The Whitstable Jack is accompanied by two attendants dressed as Robin Hood and Maid Marian. 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” After 40 years of reviving the Whitstable Jack, Dixie Lee retired in 2016 at the age of 80 and Oyster Morris  took over the Jack and the procession.

The Whitstable Times of 4th May 1895 included a report about a Jack in the Green catching fire on Whitstable High Street. Stephen Penn was in the Jack “encased in a pyramid of evergreens covered with thin colour paper…. “Jack” thought he would have a pipe and proceeded to light up” A spark from the pipe ascended to the upper part of the casing and caught alight. “He was instantly enveloped in flames” Fortunately the evergreens seem to have protected him and he only had his whiskers burnt off. His son Stephen Penn Jnr. however became ignited whilst attempting to help his father and was badly burnt, he was treated by the newly formed ambulance corps. A story circulated in 1977 that in 1912 the Whitstable Jack in the Green caught fire and the man inside burnt to death putting a stop to the tradition. There is no evidence of this and perhaps it is more than likely that the writer was in fact referring to the 1895 incident and perhaps embellishing it with their own memories of the 1973 film “The Wicker Man” for dramatic effect. In May 2016 Dixie Lee informed me of an addition to this story from a local lady that she knows well. Her Grandmother (whilst heavily pregnant) was walking to the shops when see saw the Jack catch fire. This caused such a shock that she went into labour. The result was a baby girl called May. May seems to have been unaffected by the incident and lived to the ripe old age of 99!


Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green

The spectacular Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green awoke this morning and paraded through the streets of Hastings.

My thanks to The Crown in Hastings for allowing me to reproduce their pictures here.

The Hastings Jack-in-the-Green festival was revived by Keith Leech MBE (formally of GOG and the Earls of Essex) and Mad Jack’s Morris in 1983 after he moved from London to Hastings. Working with Folklorist Roy Judge, Keith pieced together late 19th century references to the Hastings (or as Roy would correct him) The St Leonards on Sea Jack in the Green. There were at least two groups who paraded a Jack in the Green until about 1889, though the earliest mention of an already established Jack in the area dates back to 1848 “Clowns, shovels, dust and noise, Jack in the Green, a sooty queen, And half-a-dozen boys.”.

The revived Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green event now spans four days and is one of the biggest annual gatherings of Morris Dancers in the country. It is a spectacular and magical event. The Jack is “released” from the Fisherman’s Museum every year in a wonderful ceremony and is central to the festival. The main procession or parade of the Jack takes place on the bank holiday Monday through the streets of Hastings Old Town starting from the Fisherman’s Museum. The Jack is accompanied by Mad Jacks Morris, Hannah’s Cat Morris, the Bogies, the Gay Bogies, sweeps, Black Sal, a milkmaid, the Fat Man with a Drum, dancers, giants, musicians and an incredible array of green participants who create elaborate costumes for the event. It has been described as one of the most bizarre parades in Britain and really has to be seen to be believed. At the end of the day Jack is slain and his foliage distributed to the crowds to release the spirit of summer. On some years other Jacks have been known to travel to Hastings to join in the festivities including The Fowlers Troop Jack and The City of London Jack. The Hastings Bogies have become a folkloric legend in their own lifetime.

The Bogies were originally thought up by Dave Lobb as an escort for the Jack to see him safely through the increasingly crowded streets and were camouflaged in green leaf suits to allow those carrying the Jack to swap places more discreetly. When not carrying or protecting Jack the Hastings Bogies paint the faces (and occasionally other parts of the body) of as many people as possible with green face paint. It is considered bad practice to try to take pieces of the Jack while it is processing and if caught the wrath of the Bogies is swift and may involve debagging and painting the back side of the offender. To be caught in the steely gaze of a Bogie is a fearful thing and to be avoided at all costs. There are always only twelve official Bogies and they can always be found near the Jack-in-the-Green protecting and guiding him. The Hastings Jack is formed from Rhododendron which keeps green for longer than many other leaves. The crown of flowers worn by the Jack is often formed of red blue and gold flowers to represent the Cinque Ports of which Hastings is the first.

Rather than an open hole for the carrier to see out of the Hastings Jack’s “portal” is covered with an ornate mask. The original mask was made by Dave Lobb and since then other masks made by varying artists have been used. Between in 1993 and 1994 the mask used was created by artist Clive Hicks Jenkins and was based on the face of his late Father Trevor. Clive explained “After his death I was asked to provide a mask for the ‘Jack’ to wear at the Hastings Green Man Festival, and thereafter for a couple of years Trevor’s likeness was at the centre of that magnificent spectacle, an honour he would have delighted in.” The mask disappeared during Jacks demise one year and Clive would love to hear from anyone who knows where it might have ended up. A new mask was made by Marti Dean for the twenty fifth year of the Hastings Jack in 2008. The use of a mask has since been taken up by some other revived Jacks. Many of the “traditions” surrounding the Jacks in the Green that parade throughout the UK originated with the Hastings Jack including the waking of the Jack in the morning and slaying of the Jack at the end of the day, the distributing of Jacks leaves to the crowd for “good luck” and the burning of distributed leaves on a bonfire in the autumn.

For anybody interested in more information about The Hastings Traditional Jack in the Green and indeed the history of the Jack in general I would highly recommend Keith Leech’s excellent book, The Hastings Traditional Jack in the Green.


Guildford Jack-in-the-Green

I’m pleased to announce that the Guildford Bush or Jack in the Green was spotted out and about on the streets of Guildford on Saturday 29th April. My thanks to Helena for allowing me to reproduce these pictures.

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. The parade commences 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.