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. The Winchombe Jack sometimes met up with the Cheltenham Jack-in-the-Green during the years it was active.
Happenstance is a mixed Border Morris side dancing to live music. They are based in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire nestling in the shadow of Cleeve Hill
Over the coming months I will be featuring details of each of the current revived Jacks in the Green that currently parade each year.
If anyone has any corrections or further information about any of the Jacks that I feature I would love to hear from you. I would also really appreciate any photographs of any of the Jacks from any of the years they have paraded to add to our Image Archive.
Listed HERE are all known annual events for 2020 that feature The traditional Jack-in-the-Green or The Green Man throughout the UK. This list will be regularly updated.
I would be extremely grateful if anyone who attends any of these events would send us pictures, videos or written accounts for the archive. If anyone knows of any events that are not listed here or if there are any corrections/amendments required please don’t hesitate to contact me.
If you are new to these pages and are wondering just what on earth a Jack in the Green is then your whistle stop tour of the history of the Traditional Jack in the Green can be found right HERE.
If any of our members or blog follows are heading off to Whittlesea next weekend to see the wonderful Straw Bear Festival please do send us some photos of the event for the blog and archives. More information about the event and timings can be found at www.strawbear.org.uk
The festival of the Straw Bear or “Strawbower” is an old custom known only to a small area of Fenland on the borders of Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire. On Plough Tuesday, the day after the first Monday after Twelfth Night, a man or a boy would be covered from head to foot in straw and led from house to house where he would dance in exchange for gifts of money, food or beer. The festival was of a stature that farmers would often reserve their best straw making the bear.
The custom died out in about 1909, probably because the local police regarded it as begging, but it was resurrected by the Whittlesea Society in 1980.
The festival has now expanded to cover the whole weekend when the Bear appears not on Plough Tuesday but the second weekend in January. On the Saturday of the festival, the Bear progresses around the streets with its attendant “keeper” and musicians, followed by traditional dance sides (mostly visitors), including morris men and women, molly dancers, rappers and longsword dancers, clog dancers, who perform at points along the route
Happy New Year to all of our members and blog followers.
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 2pm on Sunday 5th January 2020.
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 is piped over the River Thames, with the devil Beelzebub.
With the crowd by Shakespeare’s Globe, led by the Bankside Mummers and the London Beadle, the Holly Man will ‘bring in the green’ and toast or ‘wassail’ the people, the River Thames and the Globe (an old tradition encouraging good growth).
Mummers will then process to the Bankside Jetty, and perform the traditional ‘freestyle’ St. George Folk Combat Play, featuring the Turkey Sniper, Clever Legs, the Old ‘Oss and many others, dressed in spectacular costumes. The play is full of wild verse and boisterous action, a time-honoured part of the season recorded since the Crusades.
Cakes distributed at the end of the play have a bean and a pea hidden in two of them. Those from the crowd who find them are hailed King and Queen for the day and crowned with ceremony.
They then lead the people through the streets to the historic George Inn Southwark, for a fine warming-up with the Fowlers Troop, Storytelling, the Kissing Wishing Tree, Dancing and Mulled Wine.
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: