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

Jack in the Green

The Carshalton Straw Jack – Today

Carshalton Straw Jack 2015 © Pixyled Publications

Carshalton Straw Jack 2015 © Pixyled Publications

It’s been a fantastic year for the traditional Jack in the Green with 19 spotted so far. Today the Carshalton Straw Jack will become the 20th and last Jack of 2017. A Celebration of Harvest the Carshalton 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. I have had great difficulty getting in touch with the organisers of The Carshalton Jack, if anyone out there can put me in touch just so that I can get a little bit more information about this wonderful Jack I would be extremely grateful. And if anyone is lucky enough to see The Carshalton Jack today please, please do send us some pictures for these pages via the contact us link above.

The timetable for the Carshalton Jack taken directly from their website is below.

Approximate route and times, may change!
Racehorse, West Street   Arrive  from 11:05 Depart 12:15
West Street, Festival Walk, Ponds

Woodman / Coach & Horses, High Street   Arrive 12:35 Depart 13:30
High Street, along to Charles Cryer Theatre
Grove Park, Mill Lane

The Sun, North Street     Arrive 13:55 Depart 14:55
North Street, Camden Road

The Railway, North Street     Arrive 15:15 Depart 16:15
North Street, West Street Lane

Hope, West Street   Arrive 16:30

Burning around 19:30 dependant on weather.     

For more details about the route the Jack will take today their website is: www.strawjack.co.uk

My apologies to everyone waiting patiently for The Company of the Green Man’s 16th e-newsletter. Moving house earlier this year has meant that all my free time has been taken up with cardboard boxes and DIY. I had hoped that the Summer newsletter would become the late Summer newsletter, but as Autumn is now impatiently knocking on the door and glaring at me through the window it looks like the next e-newsletter will now be published in Winter 2017/18. My thanks to everyone who has sent contributions in, rather than rush out a newsletter I would rather take the time to produce something that will do your hard work justice.

Carshalton Straw Jack 2015 © Pixyled Publications

Carshalton Straw Jack 2015 © Pixyled Publications

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2017 Jack-in-the-Green update

I can now confirm that a spectacular nineteen Jacks have been spotted so far this year!

They are:

  • The Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Oxford Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Whitstable Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Ilfracombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Bovey Tracey (Grimspound Morris) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Fowlers Troop (Deptford) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Hever Castle Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Hammersmith Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Guildford Bush
  • The Bluebell Hill (Rochester Sweeps) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Highworth Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Dead Horse Morris (Whitstable) Jack-in-the-Green
  • Kentwell Hall (Suffolk) Jack O’Green
  • Wythenshawe Hall (Manchester) Jack ‘O’ Green
  • The Bristol Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Knutsford Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Brentham Jack-in-the-Gree
  • The Isehara (Japan) Jack-in-the-Green

And on September 2nd the wonderful Carshalton Harvest Jack in the Green will parade bringing the total number of 2017 Jacks to 20.

Full details and links can be found on our Annual Events Page

As you will see from the posts below I’ve received pictures of a number of Jacks for which I am extremely grateful, but please do keep them coming. I’m more than happy to receive multiple pictures of each Jack for our online photographic archive to help record these wonderful events. It is my intention to create an archive of pictures of every Jack from every year.

There are a few Jacks that I’ve not yet received pictures for and would be extremely grateful if any readers can help to source. They are:

  • The Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Hever Castle Jack-in-the-Green
  • Kentwell Hall (Suffolk) Jack O’Green
  • Wythenshawe Hall (Manchester) Jack ‘O’ Green

And if you know of another Jack in the Green that I’ve missed please do get in touch.

I’m extremely grateful to Rose Blakeley for sending me her wonderful and incredibly atmospheric photographs of  this years Hastings Traditional Jack in the Green that accompany this post.


Grand Hama Morris Jack in the Green


I’m delighted to announce that a new Jack in the Green went out this year. The Grand Hama Morris Jack-in-the-Green paraded in the city of Isehara in Japan accompanied by the Grand Hama Morris team who are based in Kanagawa, Japan and were established in 2015.

I’m having a little bit of trouble translating information about Grand Hama Morris but would love to know more if any members of Grand Hama Morris read this post and could get in touch with me please.


Dead Horse Morris Jack in the Green 

I’m very grateful to Dead Horse Morris for allowing me to post this picture of their 2017 Jack in the Green here.

Dead Horse Morris have a Jack-in-the-Green clad entirely in Ivy who takes part in the Dawn Rising celebrations on Whitstable Beach on May 1st each year. He then takes part in the Whitstable May celebrations. The Jack is built of ivy leaves tied together in bunches and then fixed to a light-weight frame. In it’s final form it also boasts a crown. Dead Horse Morris was formed in 1986 they dance in heavy hob-nailed boots, use short blackthorn sticks and their kit is based on the ordinary working clothes of a local fisherman or dredger of the late 19th Century.


Brentham May Day Jack in the Green

I’m very pleased to report that the Brentham May Day Jack-in-the -Green was sighted and photographed in the Garden Suburb of Brentham in West London yesterday. My thanks to @MPSClevelandHob for a great picture.

Brentham has a big celebration every May which includes a Jack in the Green described as a walking talking bush who sometimes parades barefoot and is often formed of exotic foliage. 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. May Day wasn’t celebrated in Brentham between 1927 and 1930 but from 1931 except for the war years, Brentham May Day has had an uninterrupted run. In 1981 the procession very nearly did not take place. “With just one day to go to the celebrations, the organisers received a letter from Scotland Yard instructing them to observe a 28-day ban on marches in London. Ironically, it seems that “May Day procession” had suggested extreme leftwing intentions to Scotland Yard. With extraordinary speed the May Day organisers arranged a High Court hearing, where the judge was shown photographs of past May Day processions. He concluded that the children “did not look like a very subversive lot”, and he gave permission for the procession to go ahead. In the meantime the police had exempted the procession from the ban, though, curiously, on “religious” grounds. May Day that year will be remembered as the first and only time in the history of the Brentham tradition that prayers were said at the beginning and the end of the proceedings.


Bristol Jack in the Green

I’m delighted to report that the magical Bristol Jack-in-the-Green paraded through the highways and byways of Bristol spreading joy and Jacks magic in equal measure.

My thanks to Roger Hinchliffe @cow_photography for permission to use his fantastic pictures.

The Bristol Jack in the Green was revived by Pigsty Morris in 1992 and is a scion of the Hastings Traditional Jack. The Bristol Jack 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. Jacks attendants distribute Jacks magic (often mistaken for green face paint) amongst those watching him along the route. 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.


Knutsford Jack in the Green

I am hearing rumours that the Knutsford Royal May Day Jack-in-the-Green was seen out and about yesterday. I would love to receive confirmation of these rumours and a picture of this years Jack-in-the-Green if possible please.

The Knutsford Jack in the Green is probably the oldest continual annual Jack in the Green. Apart from the war years and one recent year 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. The Knutsford Jack was not one of the early Jacks but like many others in the late 19th Century was a much tamed Victorian revival having first appeared in May 1864 “based on earlier traditions and festivities” by the Rev. Robert Clowes the Vicar of Knutsford.


Hammersmith Jack-in-the-Green

I’m delighted to report that the Hammersmith Jack was spotted out and about on May Day. My thanks to Brixton Windmill for permission to reproduce their photo.

On May Day in 1984 a Jack carried by Mike Mullen of Hammersmith Morris joined a number of other Jacks at the Magog’s pub in Milk Street. The trail of the Hammersmith Jack then goes cold for 25 years until 2009 when Members of Hammersmith Morris created their Jack in it’s current form possibly unaware of its earlier incarnation. The Hammersmith Jack, is 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. These can be almost anything, as long as they are small and easily attached to the bamboo and net frame. The overall appearance of the Hammersmith Jack is quite spectacular. The 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. This included 2016 when The Hammersmith Jack travelled west by train to appear at dawn in Sherborne, Dorset on May 1st. Jack was back home parading through Hammersmith by lunchtime. When May 1st is a normal weekday then Jack and the team will visit schools, in some of which the children will have made leaves out of paper to attach to Jack. There are no attendants other than the Morris Dancers and musicians. 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.


2017 Jack-in-the-Green update

Jack in the Green © Dan Pearce 2017

In a spectacular start to this years Jack in the Green season I can confirm that fifteen Jacks have been spotted so far! They are:

  • The Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Oxford Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Whitstable Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Ilfracombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Bovey Tracey (Grimspound Morris) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Fowlers Troop (Deptford) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Hever Castle Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Hammersmith Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Guildford Bush
  • The Bluebell Hill (Rochester Sweeps) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Highworth Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Dead Horse Morris (Whitstable) Jack-in-the-Green
  • Kentwell Hall (Suffolk) Jack O’Green
  • Wythenshawe Hall (Manchester) Jack ‘O’ Green

There are still at least three Jacks to come including:

  • The Bristol Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Knutsford Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Brentham Jack-in-the-Green

Full details and links can be found on our Annual Events Page

As you will see from the posts below I’ve received pictures of a number of Jacks for which I am extremely grateful, but please do keep them coming. I’m more than happy to receive multiple pictures of each Jack for our online photographic archive to help record these wonderful events. It is my intention to create an archive of pictures of every Jack from every year.

There are a few Jacks that I’ve not yet received pictures for and would be extremely grateful if any readers can help to source. They are:

  • The Hammersmith Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Dead Horse Morris (Whitstable) Jack-in-the-Green
  • The Hever Castle Jack-in-the-Green
  • Kentwell Hall (Suffolk) Jack O’Green
  • Wythenshawe Hall (Manchester) Jack ‘O’ Green

And if you know of another Jack in the Green that I’ve missed please do get in touch.

And as a magical May Day ends for those who missed it this morning above is Hastings Artist Dan Pearce’s incredibly atmospheric picture “Jack in the Green” To see more of Dan’s art go to http://www.danpearce.graphics/ I am extremely grateful to Dan for allowing me to reproduce his picture here on our blog.


Whitstable Jack-in-the-Green

The wonderful Whitstable (Oyster Morris) Jack in the Green paraded through the town of Whitstable in Kent today. My thanks to Barry O’Brien for letting me use his pictures here.

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.  The Whitstable Jack is 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” After 40 years of reviving the Whitstable Jack, Dixie Lee retired in 2016 at the age of 80 and Oyster Morris  took over the Jack and the procession.

The Whitstable Times of 4th May 1895 included a report about a Jack in the Green catching fire on Whitstable High Street. Stephen Penn was in the Jack “encased in a pyramid of evergreens covered with thin colour paper…. “Jack” thought he would have a pipe and proceeded to light up” A spark from the pipe ascended to the upper part of the casing and caught alight. “He was instantly enveloped in flames” Fortunately the evergreens seem to have protected him and he only had his whiskers burnt off. His son Stephen Penn Jnr. however became ignited whilst attempting to help his father and was badly burnt, he was treated by the newly formed ambulance corps. A story circulated in 1977 that in 1912 the Whitstable Jack in the Green caught fire and the man inside burnt to death putting a stop to the tradition. There is no evidence of this and perhaps it is more than likely that the writer was in fact referring to the 1895 incident and perhaps embellishing it with their own memories of the 1973 film “The Wicker Man” for dramatic effect. In May 2016 Dixie Lee informed me of an addition to this story from a local lady that she knows well. Her Grandmother (whilst heavily pregnant) was walking to the shops when see saw the Jack catch fire. This caused such a shock that she went into labour. The result was a baby girl called May. May seems to have been unaffected by the incident and lived to the ripe old age of 99!