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

Posts tagged “mayday

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


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.


Highworth Jack-in-the-Green

I’m very pleased to be able to report that the Highworth Jack-in-the-Green paraded through Highworth in Wiltshire on Saturday 29th April. My thanks to Paul Baskerville of the Bang to Rites Drummers for letting me reproduce his pictures.

Highworth in Wiltshire celebrated the 800th anniversary of it’s market charter with a Jack in the Green on 22nd April 2006. The Highworth Jack in the Green is now an annual tradition as part of the annual May Market. The Jack is accompanied by the Bang to Rites Drummers a group of community based performance drummers, based around the borders of Wiltshire, Oxfordshire & Gloucestershire who formed in the summer of 2013.


Historical Jack-in-the-Green – April

jack green

Each month I publish a  newspaper article that featured the traditional Jack-in-the-Green along with a picture or photograph from the archive. Each of these articles is a fascinating window into a bygone era. For more information about the Jack in the Green both current and historical visit our main website at: www.thecompanyofthegreenman.co.uk

1st May 1855: MAY DAY

The old English spectacle of “Jack o’ the Green,” with his attendant swarthy and sooty satellites, was pirouetting gaily through the city streets to-day in celebration of the 1st of May, with an eye to erratic tributes from those stopping to observe the somewhat indescribable dance. The “most respectable master sweep in the colony,” yclept Gordon, astonished the native youth by a grand display of glazed pink, yellow, red, and silver ribbons of a retiring colour, with which he and his “mates” were unlimitedly adorned, and merrily did they dance in mysterious steps to the accompaniment of one fife, one fiddle, and one tambourine, a perambulating orchestra, most effective in attracting the attention of passers-by, and shy quadrupeds. The “morrice dancers” we suppose are not out, as we have not heard of them, and so the sweeps win the stakes of the day.

The Courier, 1 May 1855, page 2.

The picture featured this month is by an unknown artist (any information would be appreciated)


Historical Jack-in-the-Green – March

Red Set Girls and Jack in the Green by Isaac Mendes Belisarion 1837 8 3

Each month I publish a  newspaper article that featured the traditional Jack-in-the-Green along with a picture or photograph from the archive. Each of these articles is a fascinating window into a bygone era. For more information about the Jack in the Green both current and historical visit our main website at: www.thecompanyofthegreenman.co.uk

1st May 1886: MAY-DAY IN LONDON

May-day was yesterday observed in the metropolis in the usual manner….the day, as usual, was kept as far as possible by the chimney sweeping fraternity as a holiday. At an early hour several of the sweeps resident in Westminster, Chelsea, and other parts of London turned out with their “Jack in the green,” but their shows were nothing to those of previous years, in some cases only being got up by apprentices. The shows were only in a very few instances accompanied by the traditional fairy on stilts, and the “Black Sall” and “Dusty Bob” of bygone days were conspicuous by their absence.

Reynolds’s Newspaper, 2 May 1886, page 1

The picture featured this month is Red Set Girls and Jack in the Green by Isaac Mendes Belisarion (1837 -38)


Historical Jack-in-the-Green – February

Samuel Collings May Day in London1784

Each month I publish a  newspaper article that featured the traditional Jack-in-the-Green along with a picture or photograph from the archive. Each of these articles is a fascinating window into a bygone era. For more information about the Jack in the Green both current and historical visit our main website at: www.thecompanyofthegreenman.co.uk

May 1st 1832: A WET MAY-DAY

The rain of yesterday morning wholly damped the spirit of the May-day. Melancholy and miserable looked “Jack-i’-the-green,” as his laurels dripped over his black forehead ; one of these spectacles in Whitehall was a sad lesson to that sport which so frequently ends in mourning. The chief sweep and his lady, in all their glistening finery (by the way, they understand the jeweller’s rule of contrast admirably, setting “barbaric pearl and gold” in black), slinked along one side of the street in the manner of an ejected dog, beneath (oh, march of intellect!) a silk umbrella ; close behind came a Falstaffian regiment of beardless sweeps, melancholy, miserable, and muddy, vainly striving to look sedate and sober – your wet day is a great gin provoker – and the rear was brought up by “Jack” – at least “the green,” moved along but danced not, neither did it rejoice as of old on May-day ; twirl gave it none, and but that it did move, bore no other sign of tenancy.

The True Sun, 2 May 1832, page 1.

The picture featured this month is May Day in London by Samuel Collings (1784)


Historical Jack-in-the-Green – January

Jack in the Green a May Day scene sixty years ago Charles Green 1830

Each month I publish a  newspaper article that featured the traditional Jack-in-the-Green along with a picture or photograph from the archive. Each of these articles is a fascinating window into a bygone era. For more information about the Jack in the Green both current and historical visit our main website at: www.thecompanyofthegreenman.co.uk

1st May 1864: GOING A-MAYING.

The boughs and flowers were used to decorate the doors and windows of the houses, and were often associated with superstitious ceremonies, including protection against witchcraft and securing a good milking season. Indeed, the milkmaids appear always to have had a special interest in May Day festivities ; and even within living memory a number of them would assemble, in a street near Moorfields, on the first day of the month, there to perform a sort of grotesque dance around a figure which was evidently the original “Jack in the Green.” This was a man who bore upon his head a pyramid of May flowers and green boughs, all hung round, with mugs and silver tankards ; and it not frequently happened that the party was afterwards joined by a number of sweeps’ climbing-boys who were decked out with ribbons and accompanied the milkmaid’s fiddle and tabor with a brush and shovel obbligato. These sweeps, who by a popular fiction were supposed to have their holiday in virtue of its being the anniversary of the recovery of young Montagu, who had been stolen for a climbing-boy, soon had May Day to themselves; and now the “Ramoneur” – which recent Parliamentary disclosures prove has not superseded climbing-boys, enactments notwithstanding – has nearly abolished May Day, even amongst the sweeps…

The Illustrated Times, 7 May 1864, page 302.

The picture featured this month is “Jack in the Green a May Day scene sixty years ago” by Charles Green (1830)


Historical Jack-in-the-Green – December

May Day or Jack in the Green

Each month I publish a  newspaper article that featured the traditional Jack-in-the-Green along with a picture or photograph from the archive. Each of these articles is a fascinating window into a bygone era. For more information about the Jack in the Green both current and historical visit our main website at: www.thecompanyofthegreenman.co.uk

May 1st 1839: THE ENGLISH CARNIVAL

 The 1st of May is unquestionably a species of carnival in this country ; it comprises among Charles Lamb’s friends the chummies or sweeps, “fiddling, masking, dancing, and other things that may be had for asking” – that is, a few pence ; and, thanks be to this cold northern clime of ours, nothing more. Pity it is that they should be to the busy – those intent on worldly gain – a nuisance. They are so in the strait-built streets of the city, where the commerce of the world is transacted. But who of kindly heart, on the 1st day of May, cares for the growls of the obstructed merchant, or the curses of the hemmed importer? Look at the children how they flock together – how they run after “Jack-in-the-green,” and his masked, and piping, and fiddling, and drum-beating suite. Wednesday was a lovely May-day, and the streets of the metropolis profited by it. Jack-in-the-green had been seldom seen clad in greener or gayer colours, and rarely has he been followed by a more numerous or laughing cortège. Every lane and alley – hotbeds of population – poured out its juvenile and imitating admirers after him.

The Charter, 5 May 1839, page 230.

The picture featured this month is entitled “May Day or Jack in the Green” The artist and date are unknown 


Historical Jack-in-the-Green – November

Mayday or Jack in the Green possibly by Isaac Cruikshank published by Laurie and Whittle 1795

Each month I publish a  newspaper article that featured the traditional Jack-in-the-Green along with a picture or photograph from the archive. Each of these articles is a fascinating window into a bygone era. For more information about the Jack in the Green both current and historical visit our main website at: www.thecompanyofthegreenman.co.uk

May 1st 1862: MAY-DAY AND THE SWEEPS

Yesterday there was scarcely any room in London for that ingenious class of persons who, under the general designation of “Sweeps,” contrive to make a holiday of the first of May, and to levy contributions on the public. Chimney sweeping by machinery was a sad blow to the festivities of May-day, and although there were yesterday some specimens of Jack-in-the-Green, with his attendant satellites, they were, as a rule, only to be found in retired districts which formed no part of the road to the Great Exhibition, and were but very feeble representatives of the sweeps of bygone years. In the neighbourhood of Brompton and Kensington a few appeared but the thoughts of the people seemed bent on the Exhibition, and the sooty fraternity – always, by the way scrupulously clean on May-day – seemed to meet with very little encouragement. Many foreigners who came into contact with the moveable Jacks-in-the-Green, appeared to be profoundly astonished at the wonderful system by which such apparently lifeless bodies could have had such wonderful activity imparted to them, and upon the principle of Omne ignotum pro magnifico, rewarded to some extent the ladies and gentlemen who politely extended the familiar long-handed spoons, in which they are accustomed to receive their favours. Jack is supposed to have three days’ holiday at this time of year, and it might be hoped for his sake, that as to-day and to-morrow will be less exciting days than this has been, he may reap a bountiful harvest before the week has drawn to a close.

The Standard, 2 May 1862, page 3

The picture featured this month is Mayday or Jack in the Green possibly by Isaac Cruikshank published by Laurie and Whittle 1795


Historical Jack-in-the-Green – October

Charles Green - Jack in the Green 1869

Each month I publish a  newspaper article that featured the traditional Jack-in-the-Green along with a picture or photograph from the archive. Each of these articles is a fascinating window into a bygone era. For more information about the Jack in the Green both current and historical visit our main website at: www.thecompanyofthegreenman.co.uk

May 1st 1828: DREADFUL ACCIDENT

About ten o’clock yesterday morning a very frightful accident occurred in the Blackfriars-road. A group of May-day sweeps, decorated with ribbons, accompanied by what is called “Jack in the Green” and drums, were performing their grotesque capers in the road, when suddenly the horses of a Gentleman’s carriage near them started and plunged into the crowd, unfortunately knocking down a little sweep and the man called “Jack in the Green.” The affrighted horses were, almost in a minute after, stopped, but, unhappily, the unfortunate boy was so dreadfully injured by the wheels passing over him, that he died instantly, and was removed into a public-house. The “Jack in the Green” was severely bruised , and being extricated from his drapery, was carried to the Hospital.

The Morning Post, 2 May 1828, page 3.

The picture featured this month is Jack in the Green by Charles Green (1869)