For the past three years we have helped the staff and visitors at Daventry Country Park wassail their new apple orchard. Wassailing (the term comes apparently from the Saxon 'waes hael' which means good health) is about as near as you can get to an ancient custom and was much celebrated in rural areas in the nineteenth century with merry making, discharging shot guns into the branches of apple trees and making 'offerings' of cake or toast or cider to whatever may or may not have lurked within.
All photos from 2000
The procession, half a mile of mud with our two fiddlers playing bravely all the way.
The party assembles at the cafe at walks through the park, once at the orchard a banner is unfurled and the wassail sung:
"Old apple tree, we wassail thee, and hope that thou wilt bear.
The Lord doth know where we shall be till apples another year.
To bloom well and to bear well, so happy let us be.
Let everyone take off their hat and call out to the old apple tree.....
[Spoken] Old apple tree we wassail thee and hope that thou will bear,
hatfulls, capfulls two bushel fulls and a little heap under the stair.
Hip hip hooray!
The wassailing underway.
Back at the cafe or sometimes in the car park the Adderbury Mummers / Mr.Leslie's Rappers entertain the masses with the play and a dance before immersing traditionally themselves in hot tea. Brrrr......
The Turkish Knight (Colin Street) closely observed by the King of Egypt's daughter (Verna Wass).
The combat begins as the light fails.
Single guard performed in front of what is obviously a phallic symbol... bollards you may say.
Yet again the audience are totally overwhelmed by the performance!