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

Posts tagged “Man

Museum of British Folklore Pop Up Shop

The Museum of British Folklore’s first Pop-Up shop will be at at Stratford-Upon-Avon Civic Hall, Warwickshire. It will open on Tuesday 4th October and run until Saturday 28th October (Tues – Sat 11:30-5:00)

The fabulous greenman skittle above is a one off  and will be available for £75

As well as showing items from the Museum of British Folklore collection, visitors will be able to purchase a wide range of lovely things to help support the museum and its development. Along with Museum mugs and T-shirts complete with the Jonny Hannah designed logo and icons, there will be a positive plethora of Firework related merchandise. Tote bags and tea-towels, posters, postcards, giant fireworks filled with matches and pencils, firework inspired embroidery kits, cushions and toys, jewellery and even headwear, will all pay homage to the UK’s rich firework heritage. A publication to accompany the exhibition will be for sale priced at £19.99.

In addition, the Pop-Up venue will host a small exhibition about the Museum, giving visitors the opportunity to learn more about British Folklore.

The aims of the Museum include:

Drawing greater public attention to the rich and continuing tradition of folklore as a vital component in the social fabric and cultural identity of the British Isles.

Actively encouraging the study of traditional customs and seasonal events as they presently exist in the British Isle focusing on the way indigenous folk traditions are revived, altered or adapted in a contemporary context.

To accurately portray the history and rich tradition of folk practice throughout the ages.

For more information about The Museum of British Folklore go to http://museumofbritishfolklore.com

For their fantastic new Remember Remember video (featuring a green man at the start) go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvsM5XRA138

And for details about the fireworks exhibition go to http://tinyurl.com/6cqlrsp


New Green Man Sighting

Grave Slab in St Peters Church Northampton © Susan Doncaster

Suzie Doncaster has added this wonderful early green man to our current entry in the gazetteer for St Peter’s Church in Marefair Northampton. The finely carved Anglo Saxon grave slab dates to the 10-11th Century and shows beasts and birds entwined in some incredible foliage all sprouting from the mouth of  a Green Man. It is thought that the grave slab would have been in an earlier church that stood on the same site. The stone was found in a nearby ditch and was used as a door lintel and a mantel piece before finding its way back to the church.

The slab has been attributed to St Ragener an Anglo Saxon prince who was slain by the Vikings in 870. His grave had been forgotten until the mid 11th Century when visions of an elderley man drew a priest of Edward the Confessor to the burial site. Many miracles were said to have taken place at the church and the king had a shrine erected there decorated with gold, silver and precious stones. Sadly nothing of the great shrine remains.

Although the grave slab has been cut down by 3cm on one side the carving is remarkably intact and it is one of the erarliest carved stones in Northampton. St Peters Church is now a redundant Anglican Church and has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building, it is under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. It is considered to be the most outstanding Norman church in the county.

Copyright © Susan Doncaster


Green Man Painting for Sale

Green Man

 

Artist Indigo is selling the painting pictured above. Green man is 101.4cm x 81 cm and is Acrylic on Canvas. The price is £170. If you are interested please drop me a line at greenman@virgin.net and I’ll put you in touch with the artist


Merry May Day!!

At the exact time that this post appears, as the sun rises just after 5:30 on May 1st 2011 a number of Jack-in -the-Greens will be awoken across the UK. They will parade around towns, villages and cities bringing the summer and “Jacks Magic” with them either on May 1st or in the coming days. I shall be watching (and photographing) the Jacks at Oxford, Deptford/Greenwich, Hastings and Bristol this year. See you there!

A Merry May Day and a Happy Beltaine to one and all!

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


The Green Man: Sin and Salvation in Medieval Devon

St. Michael and All Angels, Mount Dinham

Parish of St. David, Exeter

St. Michael’s Lectures 2011

Wednesday 11th May, 7.30pm

The Green Man: Sin and Salvation in Medieval Devon

Sue Andrew

The lecture focuses on a motif that is striking in its ubiquity. It shows a human head with leaves sprouting from the mouth and sometimes also from eyes, ears and nose. Commonly referred to as the ‘Green Man’, the figure has been the subject of much speculation. The lecture, which is accompanied by many images, will suggest that the Green Man, during the late medieval period, was firmly rooted in notions of sin and salvation.

Sue Andrew is a PhD student in the Department of Art History at Plymouth University, the subject of her thesis being ‘Late Medieval Roof Bosses in the Parish Churches of Devon’. Sue hopes that her researches will cast new light on the church and its people in pre-Reformation Devon.

 

The lectures are open to all and admission is free (there is a voluntary retiring collection). St. Michael’s Church is the church with the tall spire (Mount Dinham, Dinham Road, Exeter, EX4 4EB) by the Iron Bridge on North St./St. David’s Hill. For further information contact David Beadle at dnb201@ex.ac.uk or go to http://www.stmichaelsmountdinham.org.uk/


ANNUAL EVENTS 2011

As May draws closer a quick reminder that the list of events that feature the Jack-in-the-Green and the Green Man during May is growing every year. The list below is our current list for May but we are always extremely grateful to hear of any others that we may have missed including those outside of the UK. Details will always be as up to date as possible on the annual events pages of the website at http://www.thecompanyofthegreenman.co.uk

This blog has a worldwide readership so don’t hesitate to drop us a line. I’ve included links to as many of the below as possible as some have not fixed their dates as yet. If you would like to add details of an event here please e-mail us at greenman@virgin.net

Please go out and support your nearest Jack and join in the wonderful and magical event, then send us in your pictures and experiences of the event.

Bristol Jack in the Green Saturday 7th May
The Bristol Jack in the Green appears on the first Saturday in May starting from the historic Harbourside (outside the Arnolfini) and leads a magical procession through the streets of Bristol eventually ending the day on Horfield Common where he dies to release the spirit of summer.
Bristol Jack in the Green

Rochester Sweeps Festival and Jack-in-the-Green 30th April – 2nd May
The Rochester Sweeps festival still has a Jack in the Green Ceremony where the Jack is awoken on Blue Bell Hill on May Morning and is paraded through the streets during the three day festival attended by hundreds of Morris Teams
Rochester Sweeps Festival

Hasting Jack-in-the-Green Festival Monday 29th April – 2nd May
The Hastings Jack-in-the-Green festival was revived by Keith Leech in 1983 and is now one of the biggest annual gatherings of Morris Dancers in the country.  The Jack is “released” every year and is central to the festival.
Hastings Jack-in-the-Green Festival

Deptford Jack-in-the-Green Sunday 1st May
The Fowlers Troop Jack in the Green goes out on the streets of South East London or the City of London every May Day
Deptford Jack in the Green

Brentham May Day and Jack-in-the-Green Saturday 14th 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 Jack in the Green


Knutsford May Day and Jack-in-the-Green
The Knutsford Jack in the Green is probably the oldest continual annual Jack in the Green. Apart from the war years it has paraded every year since 1890.  May Day in Knutsford is celebrated over the May Bank holiday weekend..
Knutsford Jack in the Green

City of London Jack-in-the-Green
The City of London Jack-in-the-Green appears in the City on May Day (but only when May Day falls on a City working day, when it falls on a weekend he may sometimes be spotted elsewhere)
City of London Jack in the Green

Oxford Jack-in-the-Green Sunday 1st May
The Oxford Jack-in-the-Green appears in Oxford on May Morning. 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. 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.
Oxford Jack in the Green

Whitstable Jack-in-the-Green Monday 2nd May
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.
Whitstable Jack in the Green

Ilfracombe Jack-in-the-Green 2nd – 3rd May 2011
Ilfracombes Jack-in-the-Green Parades on the first May bank holiday. A procession starts at approximately 11am winds its way through the High Street, along the sea front towards the harbour area. The Ilfracombe Jack finishes with the release of the spirit of summer and the distribution  of leaves on Ilfracombe Pier.
Ilfracombe Jack in the Green

Highworth Jack-in-the-Green
Highworth (Wiltshire) has a Jack in the Green that parades through the town in early May each year as part of their Medieval Market.

Beltane Bash Monday

Originally scheduled for Monday 30th May, but sadly due to the passing of one of the organisers it may not go ahead this year. Please check the website for the latest information.

The parade normally starts from the Conway Hall Red Lion Square London WC1 at 10:30 Led by traditional giants, the Jack-in-the-Green, Thor & Holda, Herne and Andred, Naughty Fairies and The Bogies.
Beltane Bash

Edinburgh Beltane Fire Festival
Edinburgh’s Beltane festival traditionally takes place on the 30th of April every year on Calton Hill. The Green Man begins in a dormant and inactive state in the form of the old Horned God, until he ‘dies’ when he touches the May Queen. Her Handmaidens tear his garments from him and he is ‘reborn’ as the young Green Man with a wild exhilarating dance that celebrates his youth and the new summer.
Edinburgh Beltane Fire Festival

Clun Green Man Festival
The Clun Green Man Festival is a springtime festival, held over three days usually on the first May Bank Holiday of the year. The Festival takes place in the picturesque town of Clun in South Shropshire and features a modern interpretation of the Green Man
Clun Green Man Festival


Exeter Green Man Coming March 21st

Exeter Green Man

Green Man Coming!

On March 21st the spring equinox, Exeter will be visited by an old Devon character in contemporary form. From dawn onwards the Green Man will be walking into Exeter centre from his home somewhere in the rolling hills surrounding the city. Members of the public can run into him any time between dawn and noon when he will disappear without trace until next year. Anyone can approach him along his journey – he is courteous, photogenic and has a propensity for hugs said to banish the winter blues and promote change generally. On his way into town, he will leave behind blessings for new life and messages for members of the public to find and keep in the form of original artworks by an Exeter based artist.

Green Man Spotting!

The Green Man’s journey will be followed closely by DJ Sketch and Dr Site during a radio special on Exeter’s favourite community station phonic.fm. Studio guests will provide expert knowledge and discussion about the Green Man’s history and appearances across the centuries. Listeners can also join in the chase by phoning or emailing the station to report sightings of the Green Man throughout the morning. This year Exeter Phoenix have offered free tickets for the best Green Man photograph which will also be exhibited at the arts centre. There will also be prizes offered in exchange for some of the Green Man’s special blessings. Find out more on the phonic.fm website.

DJ Sketch said “ Last year’s visit from The Green Man was really amazing, With the help of the listeners on my Sunday Morning Scribble Radio Show we were able to follow The Green Man’s journey into Exeter City centre. This year will be bigger and better, we want to, with once again the help of the people of Exeter, welcome this very special guest who takes us out of  winter and into spring.”

Exeter Artist Volkhardt Müller said “I was honoured to be approached by the Green Man to help him with his work. We have similar figures and traditions in South West Germany where I come from, so I found it easy to connect with this ancient Exeter resident.”

Join in the hunt for the Green Man on March 21st between 5.30am and midday by tuning into phonic.fm 106.8fm in Exeter or via worldwide live streaming on www.phonic.fm.

Report your sightings to the phonic.fm studio on 01392 434577 or email studio@phonic.fm. Lines will be open between 5.30 am and 12pm.

To submit your Green Man photo and for more information visit www.vibraphonic2011.co.uk/

This year’s Green Man Coming is being hosted by the Vibraphonic Festival and phonic.fm. The Green Man’s mission is being supported by Exeter Arts Council.

Exeter Green man


“Strange Lands”

Green Man © Andrew L. Paciorek

COTGM member Andy Paciorek’s book ‘Strange Lands: A Field Guide to the Celtic Otherworld’ is now available via mail-order. Members might recall Andy’s fabulous illustration of The Apple Tree Man which you can find in this blog under “Wassailing the Apple Trees” It also includes his fantastic Green Man pictured above.

Strange Lands is the fruit of Andrew L. Paciorek’s voyage into the Celtic Otherworld in search of Faeries, Goblins, Monsters, Angels, Demons and much more besides.
Within the 400 pages of the book are descriptions and tales of a multitude of bizarre beasts and weird entities, accompanied by over 170 original pen and ink depictions.

The following is taken from the foreword by Dr Karl Shuker:

Strange Lands is a deeply researched and richly illustrated information guide to the entities and beasts of Celtic myth & legend and to the many strange beings that have entered the lore of the land through the influence of other cultures and technological evolution.

At nearly 400 pages and featuring over 170 original illustrations, Strange Lands is an essential accompaniment for both the novice and seasoned walkers between worlds.

“Right from a child, I have always been fascinated by mythology and folklore, especially the rich corpus originating in the British Isles, and I have read very extensively on the subject. However, I can say in all honesty that Strange Lands is one of the most comprehensive single volumes on British mythological entities that I have ever encountered. Even Dr Katharine M. Briggs’s essential tome, A Dictionary of Fairies, universally acclaimed as the standard work on such beings, now has a rival in terms of the sheer diversity of examples documented.

And where Strange Lands effortlessly outpoints even that classic work is of course in its illustrations, which are truly breathtaking in their beauty, intricacy, and vibrancy”

Andy Paciorek is a graphic artist, drawn mainly to the worlds of myth, folklore, symbolism, decadence, curiosa, anomaly, dark romanticism and otherworldly experience. He is fascinated both by the beautiful and the grotesque and the twilight threshold consciousness where these boundaries blur. The mist-gates, edges and liminal zones where nature borders supernature and daydreams and nightmares cross paths are of great inspiration.

You can have a look at a limited preview and order Andy’s book at: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1957828 and find out more about Andy’s work at http://www.batcow.co.uk/strangelands/


Save England’s ancient forests …It doesn’t end here…

Whilst welcoming Government intentions to abandon plans for disposal of public forests, the campaign to protect and restore England’s ancient forests must go on, warns the Woodland Trust.

They welcome the opportunity for a more considered approach to the future of our much loved woodlands but their campaign continues. Whilst they welcome the removal of threats to public access, there is still an acute need for better protection of Ancient Woodland, our equivalent of the rainforests, and restoration of ancient woods planted with conifers.

Even if there are no sales of publicly owned forests, the worst of all worlds would be for there to be no change to the loopholes that have allowed 850 ancient woods to be threatened by built development over the past decade. Ministers have made strong commitments over the past few weeks to increase protection for ancient woods, and the Woodland Trust will be holding them to these commitments.

As I write, there is a proposal to water down protection for ancient woodland in the planning system. The Woodland Trust needs your help to defeat this proposal by 28th February.

We must not let public passion and support for our woods and forests die down and now that ownership is no longer an issue, we must not lose sight of the need to increase protection for ancient forests and restore those planted with conifers, a once in a lifetime opportunity for woodland conservation.

The campaign will continue and I urge everyone to continue to sign the petition and transfer their passion about who owns England’s public woods to ensuring that all of England?s woods survive in the future.


Save England’s Ancient Forests

Fellow members will know that as the current caretaker of the Company of the Green Man I try to be impartial when it comes to discussions and issues. But on this occasion I think we all need to stand together to help protect our ancient woodland. I urge you to read on and then sign the petition to support the Woodland Trust in their campaign.

On the 27th January 2011 the Government started a consultation over the future of the forests in England owned by the Forestry Commission, including plans to sell many of them. The Woodland Trust have responded by launching their biggest ever campaign: Save England’s Ancient Forests.

Please support the woodland trust by signing their petition which can be found at:

http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/en/campaigning/save-ancient-forests/Pages/fc-disposals-act-now.aspx

Ancient woods must be treated as a special case
Ancient woods are the UK’s equivalent of the rainforest: unique, irreplaceable and our richest wildlife habitat. The proposals do not treat all ancient woods as a special case: only some are included in the proposed category of heritage woods.

Stronger protection is needed for ancient woods
In the last decade the Woodland Trust have fought to protect 850 cases of ancient woods threatened by development. This shows that much stronger protection is needed for these precious places before any sales can be considered.

Planted ancient woods must be restored
The Forestry Commission owns over 20,000 hectares of ancient woods that have been damaged by the planting of conifers. Their restoration to broadleaved woodland would be one of the most significant contributions to wildlife conservation in a generation. The Woodland Trust have lobbied passionately for their cause in the media. They have also persuaded government to halt their current back door sales until the consultation is complete. Replanting conifers will smother the life out of these fragile habitats so we need government to guarantee their urgent restoration.

Public access must be maintained
The passionate outcry about the future of public forests underlines how important access to woods and their beautiful surroundings is to millions of people each year. The Government’s proposals to include agreements to maintain existing levels of access to bind future owners are crucial to maintaining this public benefit and we must hold them to account on this.

Transfers to charities must be properly funded
The proposals suggest that some woods could be transferred to charities such as the Woodland Trust. They would welcome the chance to work with government to safeguard the future of planted ancient woods in particular, perhaps through management agreements, but they need substantial and sustained funding from government before they could take over its responsibilities. They are concerned that such funding may be limited in the current economic climate. Stronger protection is therefore also essential.

The Woodland Trust’s Save England’s ancient forests campaign calls for:

  • Ancient woods to be treated as a special case in the Forestry Commission’s sell-off plans.
  • Restoration of all the Forestry Commission’s damaged ancient woods (defaced by conifers) to their rightful place as jewels in the crown of our native woodland heritage.
  • Closure of loopholes in protection for all ancient woods, to guarantee their public access and wildlife value, no matter who owns them.

Please speak up for our much loved woods by signing The Woodland Trust’s petition to government now:

http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/en/campaigning/save-ancient-forests/Pages/fc-disposals-act-now.aspx

Thank you.

I would love to hear any comments that our members and any other visitors to this blog might have on this issue. Please either add your comment directly to the blog or e-mail me at greenman@virgin.net


Kilmersdon Wassail

Kilmersdon Wassail copyright Bruce Eaton

Many thanks to Bruce Eaton for sending in this photo of the Wassail Queen pouring a libation of cider around an apple tree at Kilmersdon community orchard in Somerset on 15th January this year. He apologises for the quality of the photograph, blaming it on the Cider he felt forced to partake in (for the sake of tradition of course)


The Green Man by Lauren Raine

I have included this poem before in the early days of this blog, but it is so beautiful and apt for the begining of the year and our blog is so regularly discovered by people entering it in search engines, that I feel it is time to publish it again. You can find Lauren’s website full of wonderful masks (like the one above) at: http://www.rainewalker.com/catalog3.htm.

“Remember me, try to remember.
I am that laughing man with eyes like leaves.
When you think that winter will never end,
I will come.
You will feel my breath,
a vine caressing your foot.
I am the blue eye of a crocus,
opening in the snow,
a trickle of water, a calling bird,
a shaft of light among the trees.
You will hear me singing
among the green groves of memory,
and the shining leaves of tomorrow.
I’ll come with daisies in my hands –
we’ll dance among the sycamores
once more.”
–  Lauren Raine, The Green Man


Wassailing the Apple Trees

Apple Tree Man © Andy Paciorek

I have reproduced COTGM member Bruce Eaton’s brilliant post on Wassailing the Apple Trees from January 2009 below. For those interested in attending an event Wassailing the Apple Trees will take place in many locations throughout the UK in January 2011. I would like to thank Andy Paciorek for the fantastic Apple Tree Man picture above. You can see more of Andy’s work at: http://www.batcow.co.uk/strangelands

In Carhampton, Somerset Wassailing will take place on Saturday 15th January 2011 (The Saturday nearest to the Old Twelfth Night 17th January). Wassailing will also take place in Brent Knoll at West Croft Cider on the same day.

At Carhampton the wassail celebration takes place in the old orchard behind the Butcher’s Arms, the villagers form a circle around the largest apple tree, hang pieces of toast soaked in cider in the branches for the robins, who represent the ‘good spirits’ of the tree. A shotgun is fired overhead to scare away evil spirits (seen by some as worms and maggots) Four wassailing veterans then line up near the apple trees and launch into a series of wonderful folk songs about cider, some adapted from traditional songs with the lyrics adapted to give them a cider theme! Then brandishing their traditional cider crocks, they sing the Carhampton Wassailing Song:

Old apple tree, we wassail thee,
And hoping thou wilt bear
For the Lord doth know where we shall be
Till apples come another year.
For to bear well, and to bloom well
So merry let us be,
Let every man take off his hat,
And shout to the old apple tree!
Old apple tree, we wassail thee,
And hoping thou wilt bear
Hatfuls, capfuls and three bushel bagsful
And a little heap under the stairs,
Hip, Hip, Hooray!

The last three lines are repeated and the whole crowd join in the chant. When the singing is over and cups empty, people retire inside to listen to a local folkband.

Feel free to add to this post if you have your own Wassailing event for 2011.

So here is Bruce’s article, after which I have reproduced a few more wassailing songs:

The ancient tradition of ‘Wassailing’ the apple trees on the 17th January (Old Twelfth Night) is particularly associated with Somerset and the South West of England, and is one of a number of folk customs termed ‘Wassailing’.  In this instance the aim of the wassail is threefold, to drive evil spirits out of the orchard, to invite the good spirits in and to wake the apple trees up from their winter slumber.  It is also a time to drink copious amounts of scrumpy cider and have a pig roast and a bonfire.

The evil spirits are dealt with easily enough by banging on pots and pans, blowing whistles and maybe firing off a shotgun or two.  This accomplished the wassilers now sing to the apple trees to wake them up.  There are many traditional wassailing songs and different localities have there own versions.  The song below is sung each year at the Butchers Arms pub in Carhampton, Somerset, where they claim to have the oldest continuous apple tree wassail in the country, and is a fairly typical example.

Old apple tree, we wassail thee
And hope that you wilt bear
For the Gods doth know where we shall be
Come apples another year

To bloom well and to bear well
So merry let us be
Let every man take off his hat
And shout out to the old apple tree

Old apple tree, we wassail thee
And hope that you will bear
Hatfuls, capfuls, three bushel bagfuls
And a little heap under the stair

Three cheers for the old apple tree:
Hip, hip, hooray
Hip, hip, hooray
Hip, hip, hooray

Obviously the ‘little heap under the stair’ is more cider brewing.  In some ceremonies the trunk of the tree is knocked on hard with a stick to help wake the tree.  This may also have the beneficial effect of dislodging harmful insects.  Finally the good spirit of the orchard is invited in.  The good spirit is not, however, represented by our old friend the Green Man, but rather by the robin.  Toast soaked in cider is hung amongst the branches of the trees as an offering to the birds.  The robins are also very good at hoovering up any parasitic insects that were dislodged the previous night.

Wassailing the apple trees as a custom very nearly died out in the late 20th century, but clung on in Carhampton and a handful of orchards across Somerset.  In recent years, however, there has been something of a Renaissance in these folk customs and wassails have been cropping up right across the West Country and even further a field.  But what is the antiquity of this custom?  The term wassail is derived from two Old English components, namely ‘waes’ and ‘hael’, meaning literally ‘good health’.  The traditional reply to this ancient toast was supposed to be ‘drinc hael!’ and is first recorded in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain written c.1140.  Some authors dispute this and see ‘waes hael – drinc hael’ as a 12th century confection rather than a genuine Anglo-Saxon toast. In The English Year (2006) Steve Roud looks at the linguistic evidence.

‘Wassail as a general salutation existed in Old Norse as well as in Old English, but the use of the word as a drinking toast is not found in any of the Teutonic languages, and appears to be a peculiarly English formation from the Eleventh or Twelfth century… Later use of the word, in the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, show that it had undergone a considerable extension of meaning, with wassail meaning a party, or the drink that was enjoyed there, or the words said when drinking, or even the songs that were sung.’

(Roud p.556)

This is no doubt the reason that we have a plethora of folk customs all termed ‘Wassailing’ and is why we cannot trace the antiquity of wassailing the apple trees through etymology.  My personal feeling is that the ceremony pre-dates the name given to it and I strongly suspect pre-Christian and possibly pre-English roots.* And where is my evidence to support this claim?  Well that, like the origin of the Green Man, is proving rather elusive.

[1][*] The expansion of the English kingdom of Wessex into the territory of Dumnonia, a British kingdom which encompassed south Somerset, Devon and Dorset, only happened late in the 7th century, by which time Wessex had officially converted to Christianity.

And here are another two Wassailing songs:

Gloucestershire Wassail (Traditional)

Wassail, wassail all over the town
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree
With the wassailing bowl, we’ll drink to thee

So here is to Cherry and to his right cheek
Pray God send our master a good piece of beef
And a good piece of beef that may we all see
With the wassailing bowl, we’ll drink to thee

And here is to Dobbin and to his right eye
Pray God send our master a good Christmas pie
A good Christmas pie that may we all see
With the wassailing bowl, we’ll drink to thee

So here is to Broad Mary and to her broad horn
May God send our master a good crop of corn
And a good crop of corn that may we all see
With the wassailing bowl, we’ll drink to thee

And here is to Fillpail and to her left ear
Pray God send our master a happy New Year
And a happy New Year as e’er he did see
With the wassailing bowl, we’ll drink to thee

And here is to Colly and to her long tail
Pray God send our master he never may fail
A bowl of strong beer! I pray you draw near
And our jolly wassail it’s then you shall hear

Come butler, come fill us a bowl of the best
Then we hope that your soul in heaven may rest
But if you do draw us a bowl of the small
Then down shall go butler, bowl and all

Then here’s to the maid in the lily white smock
Who tripped to the door and slipped back the lock
Who tripped to the door and pulled back the pin
For to let these jolly wassailers in.

 

Gower Wassail (Traditional / Phil Tanner)

A-wassail, a-wassail, throughout all this town.
Our cup it is white and our ale it is brown.
Our wassail is made of the good ale and cake,.
Some nutmeg and ginger, the best we could get.

Al di dal – al di dal di dal
Al di dal di dal – al di dal di dee
Al de deral – al de derry
Sing too rel I do

Our wassail is made of an elderberry bough.
Although my good neighbour, we’ll drink unto thou..
Besides all on earth, we’ll have apples in store,
Pray let us come in for it’s cold by the door.

We know by the moon that we are not too soon,.
And we know by the sky that we are not too high,.
We know by the star that we are not too far,.
And we know by the ground that we are within sound.

Now master and mistress if you are within
Pray send out your maid with her lily-white skin
For to open the door without more delay
Our time it is precious and we cannot stay

Here’s a health to our Colley and her croo’ed horn
May God send her Master a good crop of corn
Of barley and wheat and all sorts of grain
May God send her Mistress a long life to reign

Now master and mistress – thanks to you we’ll give
And for our jolly wassail as long as we live
And if we should live til another new year
Perhaps we may call and see who do live here


The Apple Tree Man

A Carol arranged by Lynn Noel (From a traditional Somerset tale)

In Somerset there lived two sons of a farmer who passed away
The elder son was vain and mean, the younger merry and gay
The elder son was left the farm, to his brother naught gave he
Save a tiny plot with a feeble ox, a donkey and apple tree.

(chorus) Old apple tree, we’ll wassail thee and hoping thou wilt bear
The Lord doth know where we shall be to be merry another year
To blow well and to bear well and so merry let us be
Let everyone drink up a cup, here’s health to the old apple tree.

Good husbandman was the younger son, he tended the ox and ass
He patched their stable walls and roof and he led them to sweet grass
And he poured the cider round about and a wassail song sang he
To the spirit guard of the orchard wood, the Man of the Apple Tree.

(insert chorus after every first, second or third verse as audience & time permit)

On Christmas Eve the rent from him his brother did demand
And at midnight the elder should summon him to where treasure lay on the land
To the farmer spoke the Apple Tree Man in a voice so rich and rare
“Go dig beneath the apple tree, the treasure awaits you there.”

The younger son went to the tree and he dug as he was told
And there beneath the roots he found a wooden chest heavy with gold.
Hide it away, it now is yours,” said the voice from out the tree
“And your brother call to the stable door as he bids you, merrily.”

The elder son came silently, to the stable door did creep
And the ox and ass, as was foretold, of the treasure they did speak.
“He thinks to learn, the greedy fool, where the treasure lies from me,”
Said the ox and then the ass replied, “Twas taken long since from the tree.”

The Apple Tree Man spoke not a word as he stood in the orchard good
But shook with mirth and an apple rolled to his feet where the farmer stood.
So the greedy son he went without while the wise one prospered free
And each Christmastide for all his days he wassailed the Apple Tree. (chorus)

Merry Yuletide to all members of  The Company of the Green Man

WASSAIL!


New Company Artwork

I am extremely grateful to COTGM member Rob Stephens for creating this fantastic fan art for The Company of the Green Man.  I am  proud to adopt this as our new logo. Watch this space for the official COTGM T-Shirt incorporating Rob’s design coming soon.

You can find out more about Rob and his work at http://mildinthecountry.tumblr.com/ or www.satansbrand.co.uk.

Thanks Rob!


Cloudstreet

Cloudstreet is the Australian duo of Nicole Murray and John Thompson.  They play Australian, English and Irish traditional music, with original songs and tunes written in a traditional style thrown in.  Their music focusses strongly on the human voice, with tight two-part harmony being their trademark.

Cloudstreet have recorded The Green Man and made it available as a free download via the free stuff page on their website at:

http://www.cloudstreet.org/

 

The Green Man

The Green Man’s a traveller, a reveller, unraveller
Of dreams and of fancies, from first to the last.
Older than all men, living in all things
Son, father and sage,
Long live the Green Man!

 
First light of first morning saw the Green Man there waiting
He saw the creation and joined in the dance
All creatures grew ’round him, he grew with them singing
The first song of all, sing of the Green Man

 
Quietly watching and waiting and learning
The storms are his fury, the lightning his laugh
The first leaf of spring, his beauty and glory
His stillness his power, in the trees is his path.

 
There are fewer trees now, but the man is not sleeping
‘Though our ruin brings sorrow to time’s oldest heart
In our souls we may find him and remember his wisdom
And rekindle the flame; once again make a start.

 

© John Thompson

 

 


October Plenty (Featuring the Berry Man) Sunday 24th October

The Greenman (In his autumnal guise of The Berry Man) will be walking out with the Lions part at their October Plenty festival on Sunday the 24th Octobe  from 12 noon on the Bankside outside Shakespeare’s Globe.

October Plenty is an Autumn harvest celebration held annually in Southwark. Beginning on the Bankside, by Shakespeare’s Globe, October Plenty mixes ancient seasonal customs and theatre with contemporary festivity, joining with historic Borough Market, Southwark.

October Plenty is a collective celebration of the seasons, weather and food, in a public place, with access to everyone. The event is free, and happens whatever the weather.

The October Plenty events & highlights:

The Corn Queene

A huge Corn Queene effigy heavy with ‘Plenty’ – wheat, barley and other grains, and apples, root vegetables and foliage from the Borough Market – appears in a procession around the front of the Globe, Bankside, with the Company of actors and the time-honoured Hobby Horse in attendance, strung with cakes and loaves and led by the Berry Man.

The Berry Man

The Berry Man – our Autumn incarnation of the original Green Man – decked with wild fruits and foliage, leads the company. He carries an Apple Tree to where it will be placed within the Bankside area, with general songs and music on the street for all.

The Procession

After gathering a sizeable crowd, we then move through the streets to the Borough Market. There in the Green Market there is time to savour the delights on offer: soul cakes, apple biscuits, conker fights, cider from the New Forest, apple bobbing, a great beer selection and the wonderful market stalls as well as more dancing.

The Play

The play performed changes from year to year; we like them to be short-ish and funny-ish. Last year the Company will perform two of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

The Nun’s Priest’s story of Chanticleer and Partelote and that which the Reeve tells are amongst the best known and best loved of Chaucer’s stories.

Newly adapted for October Plenty and spiced with festive spirit and song, these plays are performed in Southwark where Chaucer’s pilgrims first gathered – you’ll be laughing and gasping over your cider!

The Story Orchard

We create a little glade of young English apple trees as a space for children to gather. There they can decorate and re-clothe the trees with green wishes (paper apples) and listen to stories about apples, markets, harvest time, bees and London sparrows!

There is a tasting table of old apple types from London by Brogdale Horticultural Trust with decorations created at Roots and Shoots, the Lambeth community gardens environment project where the Corn Queene is created.

More details at:  http://www.thelionspart.co.uk/

If anyone can send us some pictures of this years Berry Man for the blog I would be most grateful


The Memory of Trees Exhibition


Green Men on BBC FOUR “Churches how to read them”

There’s an interesting new series hidden away on BBC FOUR at the moment. Writer Richard Taylor’s “Churches how to read them” on Wednesdays at 8:30 and then repeated a number of times before the next episode. Last week Richard visited early medieval churches to find out why the Anglo-Saxons and Normans continued to fill their sacred buildings with pagan images.

He visits the 12th Century church of St Mary and St David’s in Kilpeck, Herefordshire and highlights the Famous Green Man on the doorway. He correctly points out that there are over 1000 green men in British churches but that he only knows of two records  of green men that are not in churches (I am assuming that he means from this time period). Images are then shown of various green men including: The stained glass at Holy Trinity in Long Melford, Suffolk (15th Century) and Seton Collegiate Church in East Lothian (15th Century). He explains the ”pious” Adam and the seeds of the tree of good and evil theory of the green man  which he describes as not holding much water as an explanation and notes that the green man of Kilpeck is thoroughly vividly alive. This looks to be the beginnings of a thoroughly enlightening series.


Tim Healey on Questions Questions

Eagle eared listeners may have heard Tim Healey on Radio 4’s Questions Questions yesterday with his query relating to the possible eastern ancestory of the green man. Also appearing on the programme was Mercia MacDermott author of “Explore Green Men”. For those who missed it you can listen again at:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00tgwlh/b00tgw75/Questions_Questions_26_08_2010/ I’ve also posted a discussion topic on the BBC discussion board.


Green Men of Normandy by Bruce Eaton

Church of Saint-Germain in Barneville-Carteret - Copyright Eleanor Eaton

Saint-Germain, Barneville-Carteret, Normandy

On a recent family holiday in Normandy we took some time out from sandcastle building duties and sampling the excellent local cider to indulge in a spot of Green Man hunting.  Without doubt the highlight was the small Romanesque church of Saint-Germain in Barneville-Carteret.  We knew we were in for a treat when we saw the rows of grotesque corbels around the outside of the church.  The pillar capitals that support the dog-toothed Norman arches of the nave were fascinating.  They featured, amongst other things, multiple examples of Green Men of the ‘face generating foliage’ type, a figure holding two serpents which seem to emerge out of his anus, a wrestler throwing his opponent to the floor whilst being attacked by a serpent, a possible Christ figure with knotwork dogs, abstract knotwork patterns and a probable Sheela-na-Gig (although the ‘lady’s area’ has been attacked with a chisel at some point in the carving’s history).  The parish priest, when interrogated by my father-in-law, claimed that the oldest parts of the church date to the tenth century.  Clive Hicks, in his excellent field guide, dates the capitals to the twelfth century.[1] I would tentatively suggest an eleventh century date, but am happy to stand corrected.  Photographs of the capitals have been added to the COTGM Flikr site so that you can make up your own minds.

I had been aware that the master masons who supervised the building of England’s twelfth century churches had largely been recruited in France (most famously the Herefordshire School),[2] but until visiting Normandy I had not fully appreciated that, as well as bringing their expertise, these master craftsmen also brought with them a complex artistic vocabulary, of which Green Man designs form but one element.  This style did not develop in isolation and many of the carvings at Saint-Germain seem to bear more than a hint of Scandinavian influence.  This is unsurprising given that the deCarteret family claim direct descent from one of the henchmen of Rollo ‘the Dane’, the founder of Normandy.


[1] Hicks, C. 2000 The Green Man – A Field Guide COMPASSbooks p75

[2] Bailey, J. 2000 The Parish Church of St Mary & St David at Kilpeck Berrington Press p23

More of Bruce and Eleanor’s pictures of Normandy Green Men can be viewed on our Flickr Site http://www.flickr.com/photos/thecompanyofthegreenman


A Pathway Through The Seasons by Rose Blakeley

Title A Pathway Through  The Seasons
Author Rose Blakeley
Publisher Attitude Publishing
ISBN 978-0-9558858-0-8
A Pathway Through The Seasons

A pathway through the seasons is a collection of 20 beautifully illustrated poems by writer and artist Rose Blakeley, The book takes you on a magical journey through a year of folklore and traditional English customs . Each poem is charmingly illustrated with a full colour picture and is accompanied by black and white drawings.
Rose grew up in countryside near the historic town of Battle, East Sussex before moving to Hastings and her poems and pictures are richly inspired by the stories and images that have accompanied her journey through life. The 20 poems include The Green Man, Robin-in-the-Hood and The Ceremony of May which is inspired by the Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green and will be hauntingly familiar to anyone who has attended this wonderful annual event.

The book is a first edition glossy hardback and its appearance is comfortingly reminiscent of the large format fairytale books of childhood that some of us literally read to pieces. It is definitely a book that will appeal to readers of all ages bringing memories flooding back to some and inspiring others to seek out the traditions, wildlife and folklore that surround us all. A great bedtime read for adult and child alike.

If you head to our website www.thecompanyofthegreenman.co.uk and go to the book shop section you can buy this book directly from Amazon.co.uk (go for the free delivery option too). It wont cost you any more than the usual Amazon price by using our link but will generate a few pence from each sale towards The Company of the Green Man to help us keep everything free. In fact if you go via any of the book links from our website to buy your books or other Amazon goodies you can help generate us a few more pennies with no extra cost to you.
You can find more information about A Pathway through the Seasons at:
http://www.apathwaythroughtheseasons.co.uk and more information about the CD that Rose and her musician husband Garry have collaborated on inspired by the poem “The Ceremony of May” which appears in Rose’s book at:
http://www.theceremonyofmay.co.uk and which we hope to review at a later date.

Exploring the Green Men of Stoke – Kate Lynch Artist in Residence

Saturday 31st July – Saturday 14th August 2010

Kate Lynch will be using her time as Artist in Residence to develop her work which looks at The Green Man. The Green Man can be seen in many forms on some of the town’s buildings. Throughout the residency the public will be introduced to the Green Men of Stoke Town through artwork, maps and sightseeing trails.

CREATE YOUR OWN GREEN MAN FREE

Wednesday 4th August all day (10:30 am – 4:30pm)
Create your own Green Man face using a range of locally sourced materials including clay, discarded ceramic lithographs and found wallpapers from around the city.

Other drop-in workshops will take place daily. Please check opening hours available online or at SHOP

To find out more pop in for a cup of tea anytime to:

116 Church Street, Stoke Town. ST4 1BU Next to the Spode Works archway.

More info at www.shop-stoke.co.uk

Kate’s fascinating  Blog: A Conversation with the Green Man can be found at: http://aconversationwiththegreenman.blogspot.com/


Green Rapunzel and the Green Man

COTGM member Sean Breadin, aka Sedayne, is a professional storyteller, singer of traditional ballads & folk songs and player of diverse & ancient musical instruments. For this years Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering he went again as a Green Man accompanied by Rapunzel. Rapunzel has been singing all her life, with passions encompassing folk, country and classical, holding an impressive CV in all respects. A gifted instrumentalist, she is just as likely to be found singing the ballad of Tam Lin as she is her own compositions or the songs of Laura Nyro. Both went resplendent in green carnival garb. The fantastic mask Sean is wearing is based on a sinister supporter from a Chester Cathedral misericord.  His thinking is that a lot of these sort of GM types could well be depictions of medieval carnival masks, so he thought the best thing to do would be to make one (using such traditional mediaeval materials as Ikea packing cases, organic flour, water & toilet paper) to see how such a thing might work in reality.

For their Green Man processional musicke go to: http://www.myspace.com/venereumarvum