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

Jack-in-the-Green is stirring!

Hastings Jack-in-the-Green

It is now less than a week until Jack-in-the-Green awakes!

Details of all this years events can be found on the events page HERE

If you are going to a Jack-in-the-Green event this year it would be great to make the most of the wonders of technology and post details of sightings of Jack as they occur. Please do e-mail me pictures and I will attempt to post live updates to this blog.

If you are a technophobe please don’t feel left out.  It would be great to get pictures and personal accounts of as many of these events as possible for our archives. All pictures that are used on the blog or added to the Flickr archive are copyrighted to the original photographer and are never reproduced without prior permission. Our aim is to provide a living archive of all the wonderful traditional Jack-in-the-Green events that take place every year.

If you are thinking of going to an event please do drop me a line to let me know and please consider taking an extra picture of Jack for our archives.

And if you know of a Jack-in-the-Green or Green Man event that I have missed or that has just started please do let me know.

You can contact me via the “contact us” tab at the top of this page or via THIS LINK

CURRENT JACKS-IN-THE-GREEN

Knutsford Jack-in-the-Green (Since 1890)

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 1889. May Day in Knutsford (Cheshire) is celebrated over the May Bank holiday weekend. The main focus is the May Queen. 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.

Brentham Jack-in-the-Green 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.

Oxford Jack-in-the-Green (Revived 1951)

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. Jack then moves through New College Lane and Broad Street, concluding with a massed ‘Bonny Green Garters’ outside St. John’s College in St. Giles around 8.30am. After breakfast the University & City Men usually take Jack to a display for the children of St. Ebbe’s school when May Morning falls on a weekday.

Guildford Jack-in-the-Green (Revived 1976)

Known as The Guildford Bush, this Jack is accompanied by the Pilgrim Morris Men of Guildford. They meet at the bottom of the High street and process to Holy Trinity Church with the Maypole. The Maypole is erected on Castle Green and the dancing involving guest Morris sides begins. This Jack was revived in 1976 by The Pilgrim Morris and is built from Laurel. For many years the Jack was carried by folklorist George Frampton.

Whitstable Jack-in-the-Green (Revived 1976)

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. Jack is also 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”

Deptford (Fowlers Troop) Jack-in-the-Green (Revived early 1980’s)

The Fowlers Troop Jack was revived in the early 1980s 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. The Fowlers Jack goes out on the streets of South East London or the City of London each May Day. The Jack is usually dressed on April 30th.

City of London Jack-in-the-Green (Started 1984)

Rather than a revival, The City of London Jack-in-the-Green is based on descriptions and illustrations from early writings. The City of London Jack was first paraded in 1984. Tradition has it that the City of London Jack only comes out on City working days, on years when this is not the case it is rumoured that the City of London Jack may occasionally be spotted elsewhere. The City Jack did not go out in 2013 but many of his followers joined the Deptford Jack.

Rochester (Blue Bell Hill) Jack-in-the-Green (Revived 1981)

The Rochester Jack was revived in 1981 by Gordon Newton from accounts by Charles Dickens and is still part of the Annual Sweeps Festival. 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 Sweeps Festival.

Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green (Revived 1983)

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. The main procession of the Jack takes place on the bank holiday Monday through the streets of Hastings Old Town starting from the Fishermans Museum. The Jack is accompanied by Mad Jacks Morris, the Green Bogies, dancers, giants, musicians and various others. At the end of the day Jack is slain to release the spirit of summer.

Bristol Jack in the Green (Revived 1992)

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 and appears on the first Saturday in May starting from the historic Harbourside (outside the M Shed) and leads a magical procession through the streets of Bristol eventually ending the day on Horfield Common where he is slain to release the spirit of summer.

Ilfracombe Jack-in-the-Green (Started 2000)

Ilfracombes Jack-in-the-Green was started in 2000 by Lisa Sture. A procession starts at approximately 11am winds its way through the High Street, along the sea front towards the harbour area where children and Morris Men dance around a Maypole. Another descendant of the Hastings Jack the Ilfracombe Jack event also finishes with the release of the spirit of summer and the distribution of leaves on Ilfracombe Pier.

High Wycombe Jack-in-the-Green (Revived 2005)

The High Wycombe Jack has appeared in one form or another on Holywell Mead between 2005 and 2010 he did not appear in 2011 but in 2012 was sighted on Naphill Common. There were no reported sightings in 2013.

Highworth Jack-in-the-Green (Started 2006)

Highworth in Wiltshire celebrated it’s 800th anniversary with a Jack in the Green on 22nd April 2006 and the Jack is now an annual tradition as part of an annual May Market.

Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green (Revived 2009)

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 on May Day by Happenstance Border Morris and appears at various events in the following days.

Tunbridge Wells Jack-in-the-Green (Started 2010)

The Tunbridge Wells Jack-in-the-Green is a new Jack. He first went out on 30th April 2010 and has was seen out and about beating the bounds in 2011 and 2012 but did not go out in 2013. Jack (wearing a crown of May blossom) leads a procession around the commons of Rusthall and Tunbridge Wells and is then slain to release the spirit of summer. He is accompanied by a number of drums and is flanked by a red flag and a flag of Kent.

Lands End Jack-in-the-Green (Started 2011)

The Lands End Jack-in-the-Green first went out in 2011. He greets the Dawn at Chapel Carn Brea on May Day accompanied by Boekka Border Morris and sometimes by Penkevyll, the Lands End Obby Oss.

Yaxley (Cambridgeshire) Jack-in-the-Green (Started 2013)

The Yaxley Jack-in-the-Green is a brand new Jack. He lead the traditional May parade on May 18th 2013 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.

Beltane Bash/Pagan Pride Jack-in-the-Green

The Beltane Bash Jack-in-the-Green has not paraded since 2010. The parade used to start from the Conway Hall Red Lion Square London WC1 led by traditional giants, the Jack-in-the-Green and Bogies. I would love to hear from anyone participating or organising the current Pagan Pride Events who may know if a Jack will be participating again.

 

 

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2 responses

  1. Jack will be appearing twice on Mon May 5th at Sudeley Castle Winchcombe Glos. Phil Collins, Mike Bottomley and The Happenstance Morris side will be recreating the May Day chimney sweep tradition with plenty of singing, dancing and frolics to awaken Jack in the Green.

    April 26, 2014 at 8:35 am

  2. Many thanks, and all the best to Happenstance Morris and of course Jack

    April 26, 2014 at 8:43 am

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