All things Green Man & Jack-in-the-Green

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Australian Green Men

Australia, Lithgow, Blue Mountains, New South Wales. Hoskins Memorial Church © Rex Harris

My thanks to Rex Harris for adding these wonderful Australian Green Men (above and below) to our Flickr group pool. Rex Reports five Green Men at the top of the tower of the Hoskins Memorial Church in Lithgow in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales. The Church was built by John Barr and was completed in 1928.

Architectural Australian Green Men seem to be a rarity and any more sightings from our friends down under would be most appreciated. As you can see from the Traditional Jack-in-the-Green section of this blog the Jack-in-the-Green  emigrated to Australia in the 1800s, in many cases accompanying Sweeps’ families heading out to find work in the colonies. Keith Leech’s fascinating Folklore Society publication, Jack-in-the-Green in Tasmania 1844-1873, is an excellent source of material as is Roy Judges book, The Jack-in-the-Green.

That the Green Man appears later than the Jack-in-the-Green in some locations raises some fascinating questions. Although thought to be completely unrelated I wonder if that is the case in the southern hemisphere?

More information and pictures of Green Men and indeed the Traditional Jack-in-the-Green from Australia would be very welcome. I wonder if anyone knows of other churches built by John  Barr that might feature the elusive Green Man?

Australia, Lithgow, Blue Mountains, New South Wales. Hoskins Memorial Church © Rex Harris Australia, Lithgow, Blue Mountains, New South Wales. Hoskins Memorial Church © Rex Harris Australia, Lithgow, Blue Mountains, New South Wales. Hoskins Memorial Church © Rex Harris Australia, Lithgow, Blue Mountains, New South Wales. Hoskins Memorial Church © Rex Harris

The Company of the Green Man e-newsletter 13

2015-12-24 (1)

 

The Company of the Green Man’s thirteenth e-newsletter has just been published and is available for members to download via the members area tab at the top right of this page. If you are a member you should receive an e-mail via MailChimp with details of how to access the  e-newsletter. If not please don’t hesitate to contact me using the “contact us” tab above.

If you would like to join The Company of the Green Man  just use the “join us” tab at the top of this page.

Twelfth Night Celebrations Sunday 3rd January

twelth night 2016

I would like to wish all of our members and blog readers a very Happy New Year and a Healthy and Happy 2016!

If you need to escape the post Christmas and New Year blues I would highly recommend the Twelfth Night celebrations on Bankside outside Shakespeare’s Globe starting at 2:00pm on Sunday 3rd January 2016.

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.

To herald the celebration, the extraordinary Holly Man the Winter guise of the Green Man (and an honorary member of The Company of the Green Man) decked in fantastic green garb and evergreen foliage, appears from the River Thames brought by the Thames Cutter,Trinity Tide (boat subject to weather!) rowed by hardy volunteers.

With the crowd, led by the Bankside Mummers, the Holly Man ‘brings in the green’ and ‘wassails’ or toasts the people, the River Thames and the Globe – an old tradition encouraging good growth.

The Mummers then process to the Bankside Jetty, and perform the traditional ‘freestyle’ Folk Combat Play of St. George, featuring St George, Beelzebub, the Turkey Sniper, the Doctor, Clever Legs, the Old ‘Oss and many others, dressed in their spectacular and colourful ‘guizes’. The play is full of wild verse and boisterous action, a time-honoured part of the season recorded from the Crusades.

At the end of the play, cakes are distributed – a bean and a pea hidden in two of them. Those who find them are hailed King and Queen for the day and crowned with ceremony.

They then lead the people in procession through the streets to the historic George Inn in Borough High Street for a fine warming up with Storytelling, the Kissing Wishing Tree and more Dancing

If you go please do take some pictures and send them to me for the blog and if possible perhaps send me a short piece on your experience for the next e-newsletter

You can find more details via the Lions Part website below:

Twelfth Night Celebrations

Twelth Night

Yuletide Greetings

Salisbury Cathedral Copyright © The Company of the Green Man

I would like to wish all members of The Company of the Green Man a  wonderful Yuletide and a very Merry Christmas. My thanks to everyone for all the contributions and support during 2015.

The green man above is from Salisbury Cathedral and I promise has not been edited at all!

I’m working on the next e-newsletter and hope to publish it early 2016.

Newsletter Archive Members Special Offer

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The Company of the Green Man newsletter archive is available to all of our members at a special reduced price for a limited period. From today until the end of December members can purchase unlimited access to the archive for just £10.95 (usually £15.95)

As well as downloadable copies of all the e-newsletters produced by myself over the last six years (our e-newsletters are archived after six months) it contains downloadable pdf copies of the 27 original Company of the Green Man newsletters published by my predecessor, the wonderful Ronald Miller between 1998 and 2005.

If you are already a member just click on the “How to access the Newsletter Archive” tab at the top of this page and you can purchase unlimited access to our Newsletter Archive for just £10.95 during December

If you are not yet a member then you can join up quickly and easily using the “join us” tab above (membership is completely free)

e-newsletter 13 call for contributions

Exeter Cathedral © Jennie Miller & Gary Truss

Exeter Cathedral © Jennie Miller & Gary Truss

e-newsletter 13 will be lovingly crafted by me during the long cold winter nights ahead. As always I rely on the generosity of our members for the contributions that will fill the pages of our Winter 2015 edition.

Members can e-mail their contributions via the “contact us” tab above. If you are not a member and would like to join us please use the “join us” tab above.

We welcome anything that has a connection with the subject of The Green Man or the Jack-in-the-Green: Articles, poems, pictures, sightings, short (or long) stories, reviews, songs…etc etc.

Any items for inclusion in the e-newsletter should be with me by December 7th if possible, but if you miss the deadline don’t worry it can carry over to the next e-newsletter or go in the blog.

An e-mail went out to all our members via Mailchimp today, unfortunately it seems that a number of the e-mail addresses that we hold for members are no longer valid. If you are a member and you haven’t received an e-mail from us today please do get in touch via the contact us tab above and let us know your current e-mail address so that we can keep in touch.

A reminder that all of our e-newsletters are archived after six months and as a member you can purchase unlimited access to the Newsletter Archive for £15.95 The archive contains downloadable pdf copies of all of the e-newsletters as well as the 27 Newsletters produced since 1998 during Ronald Miller’s Tenure as custodian of The Company of the Green Man. Just click on the “How to access the Newsletter Archive” tab at the top of this page.

Membership of The Company of the Green Man is completely free, and it is my intention to keep it free for as long as I can. If you have enjoyed your membership for the last year please do consider making a donation of at least £10 each year via the Members Area tab  (the same area where you download the e-newsletter.) You don’t need a Paypal account to make a donation just a debit or credit card, and your payment is made via Paypal’s secure website.

And with Christmas on the way please don’t forget that we also have our Amazon book shop full of Green Man related books via the “bookshop” tab above. Purchases made from Amazon after you have entered through one of these links will cost you nothing extra but may earn The Company of the Green Man a small referral fee.

Book of the Month – October

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Our book of the month for May is “Landscape of Memory” by Jerry Bird

It is available via  The Company of the Green Man’s Amazon bookshop by clicking on the picture above or using  THIS LINK

If you buy your green man books via our Amazon links you pay nothing extra but a small referral fee may go towards the Company of the Green Man. This helps us to keep our website and membership free for all our members. In fact anything you purchase from Amazon after going through one of the links may be eligible to earn us a small referral fee so please consider doing so whenever you are planning to shop at Amazon.

Jack in the Green – a chimney sweep’s tale

LMG1266148 Sheet music for 'Jack in the Green Quadrilles' by Warwick Williams, published by Francis Bros. & Day (colour litho) by Banks, H. G. (19th century); © Leeds Museums and Art Galleries (Abbey House) UK; English, out of copyright

LMG1266148 Sheet music for ‘Jack in the Green Quadrilles’ by Warwick Williams, published by Francis Bros. & Day (colour litho) by Banks, H. G. (19th century); © Leeds Museums and Art Galleries (Abbey House) UK; English, out of copyright

Jack in the Green – a chimney sweep’s tale

By Lucy Lilliman

Coming to the end of my internship here at Leeds Museum Discovery Centre I was asked to think about an object from the Ernestine Henry Collection which had impacted on me in some way. The item that first came to mind was a nineteenth century theatre poster for the play ‘Jack in the Green’ (see image left). Dr. Sidney Henry, the original collector of the archive had a fascination with everything relating to chimney sweeps and I feel this object best sums up some of the folklore relating to them.

Printed in London, this brightly coloured poster clearly shows the May Day celebrations in their full glory, something which is core to the play’s storyline. The play focuses on Bob Bryanstone, a 22 year old foundling who was raised by Mr. Brown, a kindly chimney sweep. As the May Day celebrations draw closer, Bob refuses any part in it except that of Jack in the Green as for this part he can be incognito. This is because Bob is convinced, not knowing his real parents, that he is actually a lost nobleman and he does not wish to ruin his reputation by being seen celebrating the first of May.

We then meet Mr. Durham, a gentleman who was saved from a frozen pond by Bob a year or so ago. Determined to rid his friend of these notions he sets about a plan to show Bob to be happy with his lot. After pretending to have found Bob’s real father, the Earl of Eaglesdown, Mr. Durham sets about training Bob in the correct etiquette befitting his new status. After being chastised for his fashion in clothes, the manner in which he eats, the games he plays and the songs he sings, Bob starts to feel very disheartened and heads home. Here he decided that he wants nothing to do with a father who would not love him for the way he is when Mr. Durham enters with news. In the hope of drawing his clever plan to an end, Mr. Durham exclaims that another has been found to be the heir of the Eaglesdown name. Seeing Bob’s excitement at this news he exclaims “Be content with your station in life, whatever it may be; make the most of the little you have and never envy those who have more: think kindly of those below you – for a warm heart and good intentions may be found in a ‘Jack in the Green’.” Ending a play with a moral was popular during this period, as was the use of chimney sweeps in the plays and dramas.

The Jack in the Green became strongly associated with the chimney sweep profession but it was not always so. The tradition dates from the 16th and 17th centuries when people would create garlands of flowers and greenery to wear during the May Day celebrations. Competition between different working guilds meant that over the years they became larger and more elaborate until they covered the entire man. This is why they became known as Jack in the Green. No one is exactly sure why they became best associated with sweeps rather than the other guilds.

Accompanying the Jack in the Green would be the Lord and Lady (most often played by two men in costume) and later a clown was added to the procession. The Lord and Lady often played tricks on those watching whilst the clown’s job was to walk on his hands and dance around at the front of the procession. It has been suggested that the dancing performed by the sweeps was the precursor to modern Morris dancing. The purpose of these celebrations was to collect alms and generally have a good party, one which would often last for four days.

Popularity for this kind of event waned during the Victorian period as public displays of drunkenness and bawdry behaviour was frowned upon. It would instead be replaced by the young, pretty May Queen and a more tranquil procession.

However, in recent years there has been a revival in the figure of Jack in the Green. He can regularly be seen during May Day festivals in London, Bristol, Hastings, Oxford, Whitstable, Rochester and Llfrancombe in North Devon. The modern take on this tradition varies slightly. More associated with ‘the green man’, spring, rebirth and renewal than the traditional whimsy character played by sweeps. For example, in Rochester the Jack in the Green is awoken by sweeps and Morris dancers before being paraded through the town, to show his awakening symbolises the waking up of plants and animals after winter. Again, in Bristol the Jack in the Green leads the procession through the streets before ending the day on Horfield Common where he is ripped apart by onlookers to ‘release the spirit of summer.’ Although we have chosen to revive an old and lost tradition by altering it to fit with an alternative modern outlook we can hopefully ensure that it will not be lost again.

Author: Lucy Lilliman, Social History intern, 2013

I’m very grateful to Lucy Lilliman for allowing me to reproduce this article. Lucy wrote it during an internship she undertook at Leeds Museums and Galleries. Lucy was working with the Dr. Moore collection.  Dr Moore collected anything related to chimney sweeps so the Jack in the Green appears throughout the archive. I’m also extremely grateful to Kitty Ross, Curator of Leeds History/Social History at Leeds Museums and Galleries for allowing me to reproduce the article and for arranging permission to reproduce the poster of Warwick Williams Quadrilles from Bridgeman Art Library .

http://www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries

Book of the Month – September

The Green Man

 

Our book of the month for September is “The Green Man” by Jane Gardam & Mary Fedden

It is available via  The Company of the Green Man’s Amazon bookshop by clicking on the picture above or using  THIS LINK

If you buy your green man books via our Amazon links you pay nothing extra but a small referral fee may go towards the Company of the Green Man. This helps us to keep our website and membership free for all our members. In fact anything you purchase from Amazon after going through one of the links may be eligible to earn us a small referral fee so please consider doing so whenever you are planning to shop at Amazon.

Book of the Month – August

The Green Man Unmasked

 

Our book of the month for August is “The Green Man Unmasked” by James Coulter

It is available via  The Company of the Green Man’s Amazon bookshop by clicking on the picture above or using  THIS LINK

If you buy your green man books via our Amazon links you pay nothing extra but a small referral fee may go towards the Company of the Green Man. This helps us to keep our website and membership free for all our members. In fact anything you purchase from Amazon after going through one of the links may be eligible to earn us a small referral fee so please consider doing so whenever you are planning to shop at Amazon.

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