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

Green Man

Annual Events 2018

May Day is very nearly upon us and the times and dates for this years wonderful Jack-in-the-Green events have been finalised. Please do go out and support this magical living folklore.

Listed below are all known annual events for 2018 that feature The traditional Jack-in-the-Green or The Green Man throughout the UK. I would be extremely grateful if anyone who attends any of these events would send me pictures, videos or written accounts for our free 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.

 

2018

  

MAY

 

 

Deptford (Fowlers Troop) Jack-in-the-Green (Tuesday 1st May)

The Fowlers Troop Jack was revived in the early 1980’s 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. In 1983 Mo Johnson made a Jack-in-the-Green in the back garden of the ‘Dog and Bell’ and Blackheath Morris (a side morphed from the Blackheath Foot’n’Death Men who used to dance at events featuring bands like Hawkwind and the Pink Fairies) revived the Deptford (Fowlers Troop) Jack. Mo was inspired by one of Thankful Sturdee’s photographs c.1900 of the original troop and Jack.

Deptford Jack in the Green

 

Blue Bell Hill (Rochester Sweeps) Jack-in-the-Green (Tuesday 1st May)

The Rochester Jack was revived in 1981 by Gordon Newton and Boughton Monchelsea Morris who were inspired from accounts by Charles Dickens. 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.

Motley Morris

 

Oxford Jack-in-the-Green (Tuesday 1st May)

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. 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.

Oxford Jack in the Green

 

Hammersmith Jack-in-the-Green (Tuesday 1st May)

The Hammersmith Jack, is a wonderful urban Jack, largely covered with artificial foliage, although it does have a crown of fresh flowers on May 1st. The leaves are made in a variety of materials, some created by children at local schools that the Jack visits as part of its May Day perambulations. As well as leaves made of paper, fabric and plastic, the Jack has other items attached that have some significance to either Hammersmith, the team, or the person who attached it. The Hammersmith Jack is paraded through Hammersmith on May 1st, regardless of which day of the week this falls, and wherever else the Jack visits on this day. The rest of the year the Hammersmith Jack is stored at Cecil Sharp House the home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society where he sometimes takes part in events.

Hammersmith Morris Jack-in-the-Green

 

Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green (Tuesday 1st May)

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 (5:20am) on May Day up on Cleeve Hill by Happenstance Border Morris. The Winchcombe Jack appears at various events over the following  days.

Happenstance Morris

 

Dead Horse Morris Jack-in-the-Green (Tuesday 1st May)

Dead Horse Morris have a Jack-in-the-Green clad entirely in Ivy who takes part in the Dawn Rising celebrations on Beacon Hill, Whitstable at 5am May 1st. The Dead Horse Morris Jack-in-the-Green also usually puts in an appearance at the Whitstable May Day Parade.

Dead Horse Morris

 

Bovey Tracey Jack-in-the-Green (Tuesday 1st May)

The Bovey Tracey Jack-in-the-Green goes out with Grimspound Border Morris. He can be seen greeting the Mayday dawn up on Haytor and then afterwards puts in an appearance in Bovey Tracey.

Bovey Tracey Jack-in-the-Green

 

Highworth Jack-in-the-Green (Saturday 5th May)

Highworth in Wiltshire celebrated it’s 800th anniversary in 2006 with a Jack-in-the-Green and the Jack is now an annual tradition as part of the May Market. The Highworth Jack-in-the-Green parades each year through the streets of Highworth with the Bang to Rites Drummers.

Bang to Rites

 

Guildford Jack-in-the-Green (Saturday 5th May)

Known as The Guildford Bush, this Jack was revived by the Pilgrim Morris Men in 1979 and is built from Laurel. For many years the Jack was carried by folklorist  George Frampton. The parade will commence at 10:30 outside The Star on the High Street. The Jack processes with the Pilgrim Morris Men to Castle Green where the Maypole is erected and the dancing involving guest Morris sides begins. 2016 marked the 40th Summerpole.

Guildford Jack in the Green

 

Ilfracombe Jack-in-the-Green (Saturday 5th May)

Ilfracombe’s Jack-in-the-Green will parade on Sunday 30th April. The Ilfracombe Jack did not appear in 2015 after the previous committee were unable to continue. Kelly Raveney stepped in to help and Ilfracombe’s May Day Celebrations returned in 2016. In 2017 the parade will be held on Sunday 30th April. The Muster will begin at 11:00am at the Pier Car Park. The parade will start at 11:30am from the Pier Tavern Pub. The route is along The Quay, St James Place, Ropery Road, Broad Street, Fore Street, High Street, Northfield Road and along Wilder Road to the Clapping Circle next to Wildersmouth Beach/Capstone. This means that not only have some of the roads changed but the parade will be in the opposite direction to previous years. At the clapping circle ‘Jack-in-the-Green’ will be “Stripped of his leafy coverings to release the ‘spirit of summer.'” This years parade will also feature a horned god giant as well as seeing the return of a maypole.

Ilfracombe Jack in the Green

 

Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green (Monday 7th May)

The Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green was revived by Keith Leech in 1983 and is now one of the biggest annual gatherings of Morris Dancers in the country.  The Gathering usually begins at 9:45am and Jack is “released” from the Fisherman’s Museum on Rock-a-Nore Road at approximately 10:15am . Jack is released in a wonderful, magical ceremony and is central to the festival and the parade. At the end of the day (3:30pm) Jack is slain to release the spirit of summer. The festival takes place over the whole bank holiday weekend.

Hastings Jack-in-the-Green Festival

 

Bristol Jack in the Green (Saturday 5th May)

The Bristol Jack in the Green appears on the first Saturday in May starting from the historic Harbourside (outside the M Shed) at 10:30am and leads a magical procession through the streets of Bristol eventually ending the day on Horfield Common at approximately 4pm where he dies to release the spirit of summer. 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.

Bristol Jack in the Green

 

Knutsford May Day and Jack-in-the-Green (Saturday 5th May)

The Knutsford Jack in the Green is probably the oldest continual annual Jack in the Green. Apart from the war years it has paraded almost every year since 1889.  May Day in Knutsford is celebrated over the May Bank holiday weekend. 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.

Knutsford Jack in the Green

 

Hever Castle Jack-in-the-Green (Saturday 5th- Monday 7th May)

Hever Castle in Kent have their own Jack-in-the-Green and Green Man over the early May Bank Holiday weekend. Joined by the Lord and Lady of the May on the Castle forecourt. The Green Man leads a procession through the gardens waking up the plants for summer.

Hever Castle Jack-in-the-Green

 

Clun Green Man Festival (Sunday 6th & Monday 7th May)

The Clun Green Man Festival is a traditional springtime festival, held on the first May bank holiday weekend of the year. The Festival takes place in the picturesque town of Clun in South Shropshire. The programme is full of live music, drama, colour and medieval malarkey and is fun for all the family

Clun Green Man Festival

 

Brentham May Day and Jack-in-the-Green (Saturday 12th May)

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.

Brentham Jack in the Green

 

Whitstable Jack-in-the-Green (May weekend 5th-7th May)

Jack-in-the-Green 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. The Jack-in-the-Green was revived for the Whitstable Folk Festival in 1976. 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”

Whitstable Jack in the Green

 

Yaxley (Cambridgeshire) Jack-in-the-Green (TBC- still no confirmation from the organisers this year that Jack will be attending)

The Yaxley Jack-in-the-Green started in 2013 and lead the Yaxley May parade. He was 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. This is now a bi-annual event so should take place in 2018. The Yaxley Jack may still be seen elsewhere on other years.

Yaxley Jack-in-the-Green

 

JULY

Green Man Day—Pilton Festival (Barnstaple) (Saturday 21st July)

The ritual enacted at the festival is believed to represent the initial antagonism of the Prior of Pilton and the Green Man and his subsequent inclusion within the church (The church of St Mary has it’s own Green Man) The festival is usually held on the third weekend in July

Pilton Festival

AUGUST

Pagan Pride Parade (August 6th)

The Beltane Bash / Pagan Pride Parade Jack-in-the-Green has not paraded since the 2011 London Pagan Pride Parade. The London parade was usually led by traditional giants, the Jack-in-the-Green and Bogies. The Nottingham Pagan Pride Parade will be taking place in August again this year and I would love to hear from any participants or organisers who might know if a Jack-in-the-Green will be participating.

Pagan Pride Parade

SEPTEMBER

Carshalton Straw Jack (TBC)

A Celebration of Harvest this takes place in September each year. The straw Jack is ritually stripped in the evening so that all present can take a keepsake and then he is burnt in a brazier. It is hoped that he will be burnt as a complete figure one year.

Carshalton Straw Jack

 

2019

 

JANUARY 

Twelfth Night Celebrations(TBC)

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. The extraordinary Holly Man, the Winter guise of the Green Man appears from the River Thames brought by a Thames Cutter, Followed by wassailing a mummers play and other festivities.

Twelfth Night Celebrations

 

The Company of the Green Man cannot be held responsible for any mistakes regarding the dates, times or locations of any of the above events. Please note that The Company of the Green man does not organise any of the above events. If you have any queries please contact the event organisers. 

Advertisements

Annual Events 2018

As the snow gives way to yet more liquid sunshine in the UK we can but hope that Spring is finally on it’s way and look forward to all this years wonderful annual Jack in the Green and Green Man related events.

Listed below are all known annual events for 2018/19 that feature The traditional Jack-in-the-Green or The Green Man throughout the UK. This list will be regularly updated on our Annual Events Page HERE. I would be extremely grateful if anyone who attends any of these events would send me 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.

 

2018

  

MAY

 

 

Deptford (Fowlers Troop) Jack-in-the-Green (Tuesday 1st May)

The Fowlers Troop Jack was revived in the early 1980’s 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. In 1983 Mo Johnson made a Jack-in-the-Green in the back garden of the ‘Dog and Bell’ and Blackheath Morris (a side morphed from the Blackheath Foot’n’Death Men who used to dance at events featuring bands like Hawkwind and the Pink Fairies) revived the Deptford (Fowlers Troop) Jack. Mo was inspired by one of Thankful Sturdee’s photographs c.1900 of the original troop and Jack.

Deptford Jack in the Green

 

Blue Bell Hill (Rochester Sweeps) Jack-in-the-Green (Tuesday 1st May)

The Rochester Jack was revived in 1981 by Gordon Newton and Boughton Monchelsea Morris who were inspired from accounts by Charles Dickens. 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.

Motley Morris

 

Oxford Jack-in-the-Green (Tuesday 1st May)

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. 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.

Oxford Jack in the Green

 

Hammersmith Jack-in-the-Green (Tuesday 1st May)

The Hammersmith Jack, is a wonderful urban Jack, largely covered with artificial foliage, although it does have a crown of fresh flowers on May 1st. The leaves are made in a variety of materials, some created by children at local schools that the Jack visits as part of its May Day perambulations. As well as leaves made of paper, fabric and plastic, the Jack has other items attached that have some significance to either Hammersmith, the team, or the person who attached it. The Hammersmith Jack is paraded through Hammersmith on May 1st, regardless of which day of the week this falls, and wherever else the Jack visits on this day. The rest of the year the Hammersmith Jack is stored at Cecil Sharp House the home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society where he sometimes takes part in events.

Hammersmith Morris Jack-in-the-Green

 

Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green (Tuesday 1st May)

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 (5:20am) on May Day up on Cleeve Hill by Happenstance Border Morris. The Winchcombe Jack appears at various events over the following  days.

Happenstance Morris

 

Dead Horse Morris Jack-in-the-Green (Tuesday 1st May)

Dead Horse Morris have a Jack-in-the-Green clad entirely in Ivy who takes part in the Dawn Rising celebrations on Beacon Hill, Whitstable at 5am May 1st. The Dead Horse Morris Jack-in-the-Green also usually puts in an appearance at the Whitstable May Day Parade.

Dead Horse Morris

 

Bovey Tracey Jack-in-the-Green (Tuesday 1st May)

The Bovey Tracey Jack-in-the-Green goes out with Grimspound Border Morris. He can be seen greeting the Mayday dawn up on Haytor and then afterwards puts in an appearance in Bovey Tracey.

Bovey Tracey Jack-in-the-Green

 

Highworth Jack-in-the-Green (Saturday 5th May)

Highworth in Wiltshire celebrated it’s 800th anniversary in 2006 with a Jack-in-the-Green and the Jack is now an annual tradition as part of the May Market. The Highworth Jack-in-the-Green parades each year through the streets of Highworth with the Bang to Rites Drummers.

Bang to Rites

 

Guildford Jack-in-the-Green (Saturday 5th May)

Known as The Guildford Bush, this Jack was revived by the Pilgrim Morris Men in 1979 and is built from Laurel. For many years the Jack was carried by folklorist  George Frampton. The parade will commence at 10:30 outside The Star on the High Street. The Jack processes with the Pilgrim Morris Men to Castle Green where the Maypole is erected and the dancing involving guest Morris sides begins. 2016 marked the 40th Summerpole.

Guildford Jack in the Green

 

Ilfracombe Jack-in-the-Green (Saturday 5th May)

Ilfracombe’s Jack-in-the-Green will parade on Sunday 30th April. The Ilfracombe Jack did not appear in 2015 after the previous committee were unable to continue. Kelly Raveney stepped in to help and Ilfracombe’s May Day Celebrations returned in 2016. In 2017 the parade will be held on Sunday 30th April. The Muster will begin at 11:00am at the Pier Car Park. The parade will start at 11:30am from the Pier Tavern Pub. The route is along The Quay, St James Place, Ropery Road, Broad Street, Fore Street, High Street, Northfield Road and along Wilder Road to the Clapping Circle next to Wildersmouth Beach/Capstone. This means that not only have some of the roads changed but the parade will be in the opposite direction to previous years. At the clapping circle ‘Jack-in-the-Green’ will be “Stripped of his leafy coverings to release the ‘spirit of summer.'” This years parade will also feature a horned god giant as well as seeing the return of a maypole.

Ilfracombe Jack in the Green

 

Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green (Monday 7th May)

The Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green was revived by Keith Leech in 1983 and is now one of the biggest annual gatherings of Morris Dancers in the country.  The Gathering usually begins at 9:45am and Jack is “released” from the Fisherman’s Museum on Rock-a-Nore Road at approximately 10:15am . Jack is released in a wonderful, magical ceremony and is central to the festival and the parade. At the end of the day (3:30pm) Jack is slain to release the spirit of summer. The festival takes place over the whole bank holiday weekend.

Hastings Jack-in-the-Green Festival

 

Bristol Jack in the Green (Saturday 5th May)

The Bristol Jack in the Green appears on the first Saturday in May starting from the historic Harbourside (outside the M Shed) at 10:30am and leads a magical procession through the streets of Bristol eventually ending the day on Horfield Common at approximately 4pm where he dies to release the spirit of summer. 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.

Bristol Jack in the Green

 

Knutsford May Day and Jack-in-the-Green (Saturday 5th May)

The Knutsford Jack in the Green is probably the oldest continual annual Jack in the Green. Apart from the war years it has paraded almost every year since 1889.  May Day in Knutsford is celebrated over the May Bank holiday weekend. 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.

Knutsford Jack in the Green

 

Hever Castle Jack-in-the-Green (Saturday 5th- Monday 7th May)

Hever Castle in Kent have their own Jack-in-the-Green and Green Man over the early May Bank Holiday weekend. Joined by the Lord and Lady of the May on the Castle forecourt. The Green Man leads a procession through the gardens waking up the plants for summer.

Hever Castle Jack-in-the-Green

 

Clun Green Man Festival (Sunday 6th & Monday 7th May)

The Clun Green Man Festival is a traditional springtime festival, held on the first May bank holiday weekend of the year. The Festival takes place in the picturesque town of Clun in South Shropshire. The programme is full of live music, drama, colour and medieval malarkey and is fun for all the family

Clun Green Man Festival

 

Brentham May Day and Jack-in-the-Green (Saturday 12th May)

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.

Brentham Jack in the Green

 

Whitstable Jack-in-the-Green (May weekend 5th-7th May)

Jack-in-the-Green 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. The Jack-in-the-Green was revived for the Whitstable Folk Festival in 1976. 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”

Whitstable Jack in the Green

 

Yaxley (Cambridgeshire) Jack-in-the-Green (TBC)

The Yaxley Jack-in-the-Green started in 2013 and lead the Yaxley May parade. He was 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. This is now a bi-annual event so should take place in 2018. The Yaxley Jack may still be seen elsewhere on other years.

Yaxley Jack-in-the-Green

 

JULY

Green Man Day—Pilton Festival (Barnstaple) (Saturday 21st July)

The ritual enacted at the festival is believed to represent the initial antagonism of the Prior of Pilton and the Green Man and his subsequent inclusion within the church (The church of St Mary has it’s own Green Man) The festival is usually held on the third weekend in July

Pilton Festival

AUGUST

Pagan Pride Parade (August 6th)

The Beltane Bash / Pagan Pride Parade Jack-in-the-Green has not paraded since the 2011 London Pagan Pride Parade. The London parade was usually led by traditional giants, the Jack-in-the-Green and Bogies. The Nottingham Pagan Pride Parade will be taking place in August again this year and I would love to hear from any participants or organisers who might know if a Jack-in-the-Green will be participating.

Pagan Pride Parade

SEPTEMBER

Carshalton Straw Jack (TBC)

A Celebration of Harvest this takes place in September each year. The straw Jack is ritually stripped in the evening so that all present can take a keepsake and then he is burnt in a brazier. It is hoped that he will be burnt as a complete figure one year.

Carshalton Straw Jack

 

2019

 

JANUARY 

Twelfth Night Celebrations(TBC)

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. The extraordinary Holly Man, the Winter guise of the Green Man appears from the River Thames brought by a Thames Cutter, Followed by wassailing a mummers play and other festivities.

Twelfth Night Celebrations

 

The Company of the Green Man cannot be held responsible for any mistakes regarding the dates, times or locations of any of the above events. Please note that The Company of the Green man does not organise any of the above events. If you have any queries please contact the event organisers. 


Fall – Gawain and the Green Knight

‘Fall’. 2016. Pencil and gouache on board. Private Collection. © Clive Hicks-Jenkins

‘Fall’. 2016. Pencil and gouache on board. Private Collection. © Clive Hicks-Jenkins

As Yuletide approaches I always seem to find myself drawn back to the wonderful poem Gawain and the Green Knight. The poem was written by an unknown author in the late 14th Century, but was only rediscovered two hundred years ago and published for the first time in 1839.

The story begins as the court of King Arthur is celebrating the feast of Christmas. The door burst open and the formidable figure of the gigantic green skinned and green haired Knight rides into the great hall clothed all in green on a green horse. He issues a grisly challenge to Arthur and his Knights and asks if anyone amongst them is “bold both of blood and brain”, and will dare strike him one stroke for another, “I will give him as a gift this axe, which is heavy enough, in sooth, to handle as he may list, and I will abide the first blow, unarmed as I sit. If any knight be so bold as to prove my words let him come swiftly to me here, and take this weapon, I quit claim to it, he may keep it as his own, and I will abide his stroke, firm on the floor. Then shalt thou give me the right to deal him another, the respite of a year and a day shall he have. Now haste, and let see whether any here dare say aught.”  Gawain begs Arthur to allow him the honour of taking the challenge and so begins Gawain’s magical quest.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins is devising a series of fourteen prints based on the medieval verse drama, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – vividly translated for the 21st century by Simon Armitage. Clive has very kindly given me permission to reproduce one of the images on our blog each month and the one above seemed perfect for December.

 You can find more information on Clive’s website: http://www.hicks-jenkins.com


Who is the Green Man?

Exeter Cathedral © Jennie Miller & Gary Truss

Exeter Cathedral © Jennie Miller & Gary Truss

For many people their first experience of the Green Man is a chance sighting of a strange stone or wooden foliate face looking down at them from high above in a church or cathedral. Just what this supposedly pagan representation of fertility and the greenwood is doing in a Christian place of worship, has puzzled people throughout the ages.  A subversive image placed by stone carvers as a link to a pre-Christian religion? A reminder that we all come from the earth and will one day return? A representation of Adam, or an image of evil carefully placed to remind churchgoers to steer away from sin?

Lady Raglan who coined the term “Green Man” thought that the Green Man of churches and abbeys was one in the same with “the figure known variously as the Green Man, Jack in the Green, Robin Hood, the King of the May, and the Garland who is the central figure in the May Day celebrations throughout northern and central Europe.”  Many people still support these connections, believing that the Green Man has many faces and that each of these do indeed have deep seated and possibly spiritual links via an ancient race memory of a time when the Greenwoods covered most of what is now Britain.

But many also disagree vehemently with these connections arguing that there is no evidence that the Jack-in –the-Green dates back any further than the sweeps processions of the late eighteenth century, (and the Garland only slightly further). That Robin Hood had no connections with The Green Man until Richard Carpenters cult series “Robin of Sherwood” created a link via the shamanic/deific figure of Herne the Hunter and his links with Cernunnos. That if the King of the May had any actual link with the Green Man carvings found in churches and other locations then there would be at least be some evidence that the carvings were in some way made a part of the May celebrations, or at least  mentioned, which it seems they were not!

And yet others argue that even if these connections never did exist, then they have now been created and therefore will henceforth be forever inseparably entwined in that magical way that myth, legend and folklore seem to take on an unstoppable life force of their own.

Environmentalists, New Agers, Pagans and neo Pagans all have their own interpretations of who the Green Man is and what he represents to them and their beliefs.

Even the stone and wood carvings found in churches, cathedrals, castles and varied other locations may not all be as they at first seem. Some Green Man hunters classify them into different types:

  • Leaf masks: Simple faces formed from a single leaf.
  • Foliate faces: Faces created by more than one leaf.
  • Disgorgers: Faces disgorging foliage or vines from mouth, eyes, and/or ears.
  • Peepers or watchers: Faces seeming to peer out of foliage but not actually formed from it

Other hunters allow inclusion of Cat and other animal faces created from or including leaves or vegetation of some kind.

Images of the green man are found across England, Great Britain, Europe and parts of Asia and North Africa. He may date back as far as the third millennium BC, and is still being reproduced in stone, wood, art, song, story and poem today.  He may be found in his guise as dusty stone or wood carving looking down from on high in churches cathedrals and abbeys throughout England. He can be seen as a sometimes mischievous, sometimes dark figure found in Morris dances; both traditional and modern. As the magical Jack-in-the-Green leading or included in May Day processions each year, or bought to life in new and vibrant traditions, like the Green Man of Clun who each year battles the Frost Queen on a bridge above the river Clun.

In his book “Wildwood A Journey Through Trees” the late Roger Deakin visits the Green Man at King’s Nympton in Devon and writes:

“The leaves flow from him like poems or songs. He himself is a kind of folksong. Everyone knows it, but each singer has a different, personal version, a variation on the theme. ‘I am not elderly,’ says the Green Man in one of Jane Gardam’s enchanting stories about him; ‘I am the Green Man.’  He is the spirit of the rebirth of nature. He is the chucked pebble that ripples out into every tree ring. He is a green outlaw and he is everywhere, like a Che Guevara poster.”

Architectural  historian Richard Hayman wrote:

“Is he just another example of the way in which we invent the gods we need?….Where there is a context in which the green man can be interpreted, he can usually be shown to be a figure representing sin. There is no case for arguing that the green man is a figure of ancient or medieval pagan origin representing either fertility or some spiritual union with nature. As archaeologists and historians we need to be wary of self-serving interpretations of the past The green man represents another eternal theme, about death and the vainglorious nature of human existence”

Green Man expert Mike Harding writes in his website:

“His roots may go back to the shadow hunters who painted the caves of Lascaux and Altimira and may climb through history, in one of his manifestations through Robin Hood and the Morris Dances of Old England to be chiselled in wood and stone even to this day by men and women who no longer know his story but sense that something old and strong and tremendously important lies behind his leafy mask.”

Mark Ryan writes in “The Wildwood Tarot”:

“One of the most ancient images of the connection between mankind and nature, his face has looked out from the stones of temples and churches for centuries. Even in the dim and chilly heights of  Christian cathedrals he looks down , often sardonically, on the people far below. Constantly returning in thinly disguised ciphers such as the Green Knight, Jack in the Green and Robin Hood, his face, disgorging leaves, peers out from the rich, dark, fertile heart of the forest and challenges you to respect and revel in the joys of the natural world.”

Canon Albert Radcliffe of Manchester Cathedral wrote in the forward to Clive Hicks “The Green Man A Field Guide”:

“The truth is that no one knows for certain who the green man was. He is a figure surrounded by total and complete silence. He is the best kept secret in Europe.”

Whilst Clive Hicks himself wrote:

“The Green Man is an image and an idea. It is an image of a human face associated with foliage, and it is an idea that makes real the connection between humanity and nature. The image personifies the idea.”

Personally I think that the green man may be intrinsically linked with Britain’s ancient woodlands. Continuous human habitation began in the UK in what is now southern England just 12000 years ago. In prehistoric times England was almost entirely covered in trees. By the end of the first millenium much had already been cleared to satisfy the needs of an increasing population, with the Domesday Records showing approximately 15% woodland cover across England. By the end of the 16th Century 90% of our ancient woodlands had gone, changing the face of England forever. This trend continued, and by the end of the 19th century woodland had dropped to below 5%. Since then England’s forest and woodland area has been expanding slightly and by the beginning of the 21st century there were over 1.1 million hectares, equivalent to 8.4% woodland cover. This, however, remains relatively low in international terms.

I have a tentative theory that images of the green man are more prolific in churches that were built closer to those woodlands that still remained at the time of the Doomsday Records. This was where nature was literally just outside the front door and was both revered and feared by our ancestors. This is a connection that we have almost completely lost in an age where in the last 100 years half of the UK’s remaining woods have been cleared to make way for agriculture and conifer plantations.

But I believe that the real answer to the question of “who is the Green Man” may simply be that there is no single answer, that he is indeed an enigma, not to be solved but to continue to instil curiosity and wonder in current and future generations.

And so, what you at first may have thought a gentle pastime of wandering around quiet parish churches snapping the odd photo of a Green Man on high before retiring to the nearest pub (possibly The Green Man) for a pint of Green Man ale (yes it exists). You may now realise will possibly (and hopefully) become your very own quest for answers.

I shall leave the last poignant words to my predecessor the late Ronald Millar:

“Two millennia old or older, the Green Man is the vibrant spirit of the wild wood, of vegetation in leaf or bud, of spring, pool and river, earth and sky, indeed the totality of nature. His voice is the hiss of the high wind in ash and oak. And his profundity those sudden silences of a forest when all Nature seems to hold her breath. When we hear or feel him no more mankind will have run its course.”


The Green Knight Bows to Gawain’s Blow

‘The Green Knight Bows to Gawain’s Blow’. 2016. Pencil and gouache on board. Private Collection. © Clive Hicks-Jenkins

‘The Green Knight Bows to Gawain’s Blow’. 2016. Pencil and gouache on board. Private Collection. © Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Clive Hicks-Jenkins is devising a series of fourteen prints based on the medieval verse drama, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – a classic vividly translated for the 21st century by Simon Armitage.  Clive has very kindly given me permission to reproduce one of the images on our blog each month.

Clive’s work often features some wonderful representations of the foliate Green Man. If you can track down a copy of Marly Youman’s wonderful book “The Foliate Head” I highly recommend it for Marly’s beautiful poetry and Clive’s wonderful illustrations of The Green Man that appear throughout the book.

 You can find more information on Clive’s website: http://www.hicks-jenkins.com


Sightings – Norwich, Norfolk

St Peter Mancroft - Norwich © Ruth Kenyon

St Peter Mancroft – Norwich © Ruth Kenyon

My thanks to Ruth Kenyon for sending in these wonderful tongue poking Green Men bosses from St Peter Mancroft Church in the Market Place in the centre of Norwich. After the two Cathedrals it is the largest church in Norfolk and was built between 1433 and 1455. These bosses were previously unreported probably because the area is so dark. They have now been added to our Gazetteer.

I’m always grateful for any new sightings, photographs or verifications for the Gazetteer and the Flickr photographic archive. Please use the contact tab above to get in touch.

Any new sightings or verifications are added to the gazetteer and the finder/verifiers name is always detailed (unless they prefer to remain anonymous).

Copyright for any pictures added to our Flickr archive always remains with the original photographer as does full control over how the pictures are used. I will never use anybody’s images for any commercial use without full written permission. occasionally I get requests to use pictures for books, magazines etc. and these requests are passed directly on to the original photographer so that they can benefit from their own work.

You can visit our Flickr archive HERE

St Peter Mancroft - Norwich © Ruth Kenyon

St Peter Mancroft – Norwich © Ruth Kenyon


The Green Man Gazetteer

gazetteer

The Company of the Green Man maintains the largest gazetteer of Green Men (and Green Women) in the world. When the founder of The Company of the Green Man Ronald Millar wrote the book “The Green Man Companion and Gazetteer” in 1997 he included our first gazetteer containing 61 entries. Ron told me that he thought there may actually be hundreds of Green Men out there. Little did Ron know how much he had underestimated the spread of the Green Man. Our Gazetteer now lists thousands of Green Men, Women and Beasts. More sightings arrive weekly and I suspect that there are many thousand more as yet undiscovered Green Men out there.

When I had to move our website over to a blog format two years ago the restrictions on space meant that I could no longer keep the entire gazetteer online and so I began the task of converting it to a downloadable .pdf format. I’m hopeful that the downloadable gazetteer will be a real step forward and that it will become a really useful tool for Green Man hunters who can now download a current copy to their phone or tablet prior to heading out so that it is always available offline.

The Gazetteer is now available for anyone to download completely free of charge via the Gazetteer tab above or by using THIS LINK

It is still a work in progress, I have many sightings to add and a lot of formatting to do but rather than keeping it back until this is done I would rather it be available for use.

Whilst the gazetteer is completely free to download it would be really appreciated if those who find it useful would consider making a small donation to The Company of the Green Man via our Donate tab above or via THIS LINK

How you can help

Our gazetteer is growing daily but we need help verifying many of the entries as well as discovering as yet unrecorded green men. Hunting green men is a fascinating pursuit for individuals groups or the whole family and will get you out and about  in some fantastic locations. Entire walks can be planned around green men and there are many green men still waiting to be discovered. In the words of Clive Hicks author of “The Green Man: A Field Guide”:

“There are certainly many, many green men not known to us…..It might be you that identifies a gem of a green man who has been gracing a church for centuries, unnoticed until your visit” 

Those who discover a green man that has never been recorded will be credited in our gazetteer as the original discoverer! Please e-mail me with as much detail as possible and preferably include a photograph for us to add to our online Flickr Archive.

Membership of The Company of the Green Man is free, just click on the Join Us tab at the top of this blog.

 


The Armouring of Gawain (Clive Hicks-Jenkins)

The Armouring of Gawain - Gouache and pencil on paper © Clive Hicks-Jenkins

The Armouring of Gawain – Gouache and pencil on paper © Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Clive Hicks-Jenkins is devising a series of fourteen prints based on the medieval verse drama, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – a classic vividly translated for the 21st century by Simon Armitage.  Clive has kindly given me permission to reproduce one of the images on our blog each month.

Clive’s work often features some wonderful representations of the foliate Green Man. If you can track down a copy of Marly Youman’s wonderful book “The Foliate Head” I highly recommend it for Marly’s beautiful poetry and Clive’s wonderful illustrations of The Green Man that appear throughout the book.

 You can find more information on Clive’s website: http://www.hicks-jenkins.com


Gawain and the Green Knight: Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Crown of Leaves. Gouache and pencil on gessoed board.© Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Crown of Leaves. Gouache and pencil on gessoed board. © Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Gawain and the Green Knight: Clive Hicks-Jenkins and the Penfold Press

The Martin Tinney Gallery, Cardiff

Thursday 8th Sept – Saturday 1st Oct, 2016

In collaboration with Dan Bugg of Penfold Press, Clive Hicks-Jenkins is devising a series of fourteen prints based on the medieval verse drama, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – a classic vividly translated for the 21st century by Simon Armitage. The exhibition will present the first seven prints, marking the half-way stage in this major project, together with paintings and drawings on the theme.

Art commentator James Russell writes of the series:

“The story is the kind you might find in The Mabinogion. Sir Gawain is more human than your average legendary hero. Having taken up the challenge offered at the Camelot Christmas feast by the terrifying Green Knight, he embarks on a quest to find this ogre, only to be tested – and found wanting – in unexpected ways. Sir Gawain is both a glittering knight and a fallible young man, and it is this flawed human character that intrigues Clive. Each print is inspired by the text and rooted stylistically in its world, but beyond that Clive and Dan have allowed their imagination free rein.”

You can find more information on Clive’s website: http://www.hicks-jenkins.com

The Green Knight's Head Lives. Screenprint. Edition of 75 © Clive Hicks-Jenkins

The Green Knight’s Head Lives. Screenprint. Edition of 75 © Clive Hicks-Jenkins


Sightings: Eaton Under Heywood, Shropshire

St Edith's Church, Eaton Under Heywood, Shropshire copyright ©  Derek Penrose

St Edith’s Church, Eaton Under Heywood, Shropshire copyright © Derek Penrose

 

My thanks to Derek Penrose for the wonderful photographs he has been sending in recently of Green Men he has spotted on his summer travels. These two wonderful faces are from St Edith’s Church, Eaton Under Heywood deep in the Shropshire Hills.

I’m always grateful for any new sightings, photographs or verifications for the Gazetteer and the Flickr photographic archive. Please use the contact tab above to get in touch.

Any new sightings or verifications are added to the gazetteer and the finder/verifiers name is always detailed (unless they prefer to remain anonymous).

Copyright for any pictures added to our Flickr archive always remains with the original photographer as does full control over how the pictures are used. I will never use anybody’s images for any commercial use without full written permission. occasionally I get requests to use pictures for books, magazines etc. and these requests are passed directly on to the original photographer so that they can benefit from their own work.

You can visit our Flickr archive HERE

 

St Edith's Church, Eaton Under Heywood, Shropshire copyright ©  Derek Penrose

St Edith’s Church, Eaton Under Heywood, Shropshire copyright © Derek Penrose