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


Twelfth Night Celebrations Sunday 7th January 2018

Twelth Night

I would like to wish all of our members and blog readers a very Happy New Year!

My thanks to everyone who responded to our Christmas appeal and kindly donated to St Giles Animal Rescue Centre, if you haven’t done so yet please have a look at the post below and help out if you can.

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 7th January 2018.

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:

Twelfth Night Celebrations


The Company of the Green Man Christmas Appeal

My apologies for the extended delay in posting here and publishing the latest e-newsletter. Moving house this year was as time consuming as I was warned. Then just when the cardboard boxes were down to a more manageable quantity and I thought I could sit in front of the log burner with a wee dram and get back to it, I managed to blow up my trusty laptop!

The good news is that all my files appear to be safe, it might just take a while for me to be able to get to them.

And so my original thought was to put out my annual appeal to our members to make a small donation to help keep The Company of the Green Man online and to help me pay for the laptop repairs (or worse case scenario a new laptop).

But although it will be a bit inconvenient I’ll get by, and The Company of the Green Man will be up and running again in 2018.

Instead I would really appreciate it if you have enjoyed your membership of The Company of the Green Man, or just browsing our blog or Flickr Archive if you would instead donate to some friends of ours who are in much more need this Yuletide.

Just over a year ago the handsome fellow above came into our lives. Milo had been abandoned as a puppy and was taken to St Giles Animal Rescue Centre. As is often the case his was a particularly sad story, but the good news is that he has now found his forever home with us.

However the rescue centre he came from is very much in need of some help, as are the cats and dogs currently living there. Their website was recently hacked and as a result their ability to attract new owners was seriously compromised. They are back up and running but unfortunately they are now inundated with dogs and cats in need of warmth, shelter, food and medical attention.

You can help by either donating directly via their secure donation page:

Or by sending the cats or dogs a Christmas treat via their Amazon wish list:

If you would like to know more about St Giles Animal Rescue or if you or someone you know are looking to adopt a cat or dog then please go to their website here:

Thank you all for your patience, normal service will be resumed………

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:

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

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.

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