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

Archive for May 7, 2022

The Bristol Jack in the Green

I’m delighted to report that the magical Bristol Jack-in-the-Green is back! He is currently dancing through the highways and byways of Bristol spreading joy and Jacks magic in equal measure. I was honoured to welcome him back this morning after he was woken by his attendants in a beautiful ceremony. Sadly my shiny new knee meant that I was unable to follow him all day this year so I waved him off into the distance and headed back with the sound of drums, music, singing and the cry of ‘Bristol Jack in the Green’ echoing off the buildings and harbourside of Bristol. Welcome back Jack!

The Bristol Jack in the Green was revived by Pigsty Morris in 1992 and appears on the first Saturday in May starting from the historic harbourside (outside the M Shed). Jack is “awoken” by his green clad attendants in an evocative ceremony on the harbourside and then leads a magical six hour procession through the streets of Bristol. The Bristol Jack is nine feet tall and is top with a crown of flowers, he can be difficult to control, his attendants often have to keep him from chasing members of the public.

The Bristol Jack in the Green’s route varies slightly each year but he normally passes through St Nicholas Market where he dances before pausing for a well earned pint at The Crown. The day always ends on Horfield Common where large crowds gather to witness the slaying of Jack  to release the spirit of summer. Jacks leaves are then distributed to the watching crowd. In 1861, the Western Daily Press reported that: “Throughout the city and Clifton there was the usual visitation of Royalty – perhaps a more plentiful crop of Kings and Queens than in former years – and Jack in the Green, with a band of music and a cohort of gaily dressed fraternal spirits, paraded the thoroughfares and drew much attention.” A Jack-in-the-Green was also recorded in Bristol around 1865 by a lady who remembered seeing him with a sweep and a queen on the outskirts.