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

Posts tagged “Green Man

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.

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Sightings – Ashburton Devon

My thanks to Nick Booth for some great pictures from St Andrews in Ashburton, Devon. Readers of our e-newsletter will know that when I visited St Andrews last year workmen were in the process of replacing the floor, so I had trouble getting access to all the Green Men there. Nick managed to find all the elusive Green Men on a visit. Here are the first two Nick discovered on roof bosses.  More to follow next week.


Sightings – St Mary’s, Scilly Isles

Sideboard from the wreck of Thomas W Lawson in the St Mary's Museum, St Mary's, Isles of Scilly copyright © Vanessa Piggott

Sideboard from the wreck of the Thomas W Lawson – copyright © Vanessa Piggott

My thanks to Vanessa Piggott for sending in this picture of a cast iron Green Man on a sideboard she discovered in St Mary’s Museum on the Scilly Isles. The sideboard is from the wreck of the Thomas W. Lawson a seven-masted, steel-hulled schooner used to haul coal and oil along the East Coast of the United States. She was launched in 1902 and holds the distinction of being the largest schooner and largest sailing vessel without an auxiliary engine ever built. The Thomas W. Lawson was destroyed off the uninhabited island of Annet, in the Isles of Scilly, in a storm on December 14, 1907, killing all but two of her eighteen crew and a harbor pilot already aboard. Her cargo of 58,000 barrels of light paraffin oil caused perhaps the first large marine oil spill in history.


Twelfth Night Celebrations Sunday 8th January

Twelth Night

I would like to wish all of our members and blog readers a very Happy New Year and a Healthy and Happy 2017.

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 1:45pm on Sunday 8th January 2016.

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


Yuletide Greetings

Salisbury Cathedral Copyright © The Company of the Green Man

Wishing all members of The Company of the Green Man and all visitors to our blog a fantastic Yuletide Season. (And yes it is a real Green Man – No photoshopping!)


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


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


The Green Man: A powerful image lives on – Muriel Fraser

We all know how fast and far a good tune can travel. Shortly after the haunting melody of “Lili Marleen” was heard broadcast to among German troops in WWII, it was eagerly adopted by Allied ones. And think, too, of the travels of a song which began as “God preserve Franz the Kaiser”. This lovely tune by Haydn was recycled as “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles” and eventually appeared as the hymn, “God who touches earth with beauty”.

Just as a catchy tune travels, so does a powerful image. The ornate leaf masks or foliated heads, now often called the “Green Man”, were developed by Roman artists in connection with nature gods like Dionysus and the satyrs. But this image was too good to end with Roman paganism. In the Middle Ages, as the pageants of chivalry became widespread, Green Men appear with increasing frequency in Christian churches, too.

A clue to this is offered by a ritual from 16th-century Sweden. There we find a May Day jousting contest between Winter and Summer. The idea was to dramatise — and help advance — the coming of spring. The two sides in the tournament were clothed accordingly. Duke Winter was “clad in various pelts and armed with pokers, scattering ice and snowballs to prolong the cold”. His opponent, Count Floral, was “garbed in the green boughs of trees, together with leaves and flowers”. Of course, whatever the weather on the day of the tournament, “and to everyone’s joy, the victory is awarded to Summer”. [1]

This gives us a glimpse into the mediaeval meaning of faces decked with foliage. No longer were they Roman gods, but harbingers of spring. And, of course, spring in the metaphorical sense, was a central theme in Christianity. It applied to both the rebirth of the soul in heaven and the general Resurrection of the Dead. As such, the foliated head had a firm claim to its place in Christian churches.

But the transformations didn’t end there. The Green Man could represent, not only the resurrection of the soul, but also the rebirth of the Christianity during the Reformation. This seems to be why the Reformers adopted it initially. (However, they soon backed off from this transformed satyr. After all, they were the ones who liked to accuse the Catholic Church of being “pagan”.)  But at first, presumably as a symbol of the rebirth of the church, a Green Man appears in a portrait of Martin Luther by Cranach the Elder, also on the title page of Luther’s petition to the Papal Council in 1520, and even in his church in Wittenburg. [2]

Mediaeval people loved symbols precisely because they regarded them as having magic power. This symbol is simple, vivid, and closely connected to people’s hopes and fears: to their longing for the return of the sun — to a “springtime” through resurrection — and, for some, to a new and reformed Christianity. It’s no wonder that the Green Man, in its various guises, survived for two millenia.

1. Olaus Magnus, Description of the Northern Peoples (1555), Volume 2, 15:9.
2. Clive Hicks, http://www.geomantie.net/article/read/6093.html


Oxford 2016 Jack in the Green

Highworth Jack in the Green 2016 © Tim Healey

Oxford Jack in the Green 2016 © Tim Healey

My thanks to Tim Healey for permission to use the great pictures of the 2016 Oxford Jack-in-the-Green that accompany this post. Tims website devoted to May Morning in Oxford can be found at: www.maymorning.co.uk


The Oxford Jack-in-the-Green was revived in 1951. It appears every year in Oxford on May Morning. 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.  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. Jack then moves  through New College Lane and Broad Street, concluding with a massed ‘Bonny Green Garters’ outside St. John’s College in St. Giles around 8.30am. After breakfast the University & City Men usually take Jack to a display for the children of St. Ebbe’s school when May Morning falls on a weekday.

It has long been my hope to be able to obtain at least one picture of every Jack that goes out across the UK (and beyond) each year to add to our online Flickr archive and provide a visual record of this wonderful tradition for generations to come. At least twenty one Jacks went out this year and I’m extremely grateful to everyone who has helped me to gather pictures of thirteen Jacks so far.

I’m still trying to track down pictures of eight Jacks from this year. If you can help and have the copyright owners permission please get in contact via the ‘Contact us’ tab at the top of this blog. Copyright of any pictures added to our archive always remains with the original photographer and pictures are only ever used with permission of the copyright owner.

The eight Jacks I’m still looking for pictures of from 2016 are:

  • Ilfracombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • Knutsford Jack-in-the-Green
  • Yaxley Jack-in-the-Green
  • Brentham Jack-in-the-Green
  • Bovey Tracey/Grimspound Morris Jack-in-the-Green
  • Kentwell Hall Jack O’Green
  • Wythenshawe Hall Jack ‘O’ Green

If you haven’t seen a Jack-in-the-Green yet this year there is still at least one more to come. The Carshalton Straw Jack is a celebration of Harvest that 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. The date for this event is still to be confirmed but you can visit the website here: Carshalton Straw Jack

Highworth Jack in the Green 2016 © Tim Healey

Oxford Jack in the Green 2016 © Tim Healey


Jack in the Green 2016 Update

Fowlers Troop Jack-in-the-Green 2016 © Pixyledpublications

Fowlers Troop Jack-in-the-Green 2016 © Pixyledpublications

It’s been a great year for sightings of The Traditional Jack-in-the-Green across the UK. My thanks to everyone who has confirmed sightings and sent in some fantastic photographs. I’ll be posting plenty more pictures of this years Jacks in the weeks to come both here and on our Flickr Archive. The picture above of the Fowlers Troop/Deptford Jack in the Green was taken by Ross Parish and the picture below of the spectacular Hastings Jack in the Green was taken by Rose Blakeley.

I have now had confirmed sightings of the following 21 Jacks for 2016:

  • Bluebell Hill/Rochester Sweeps Jack-in-the-Green
  • Dead Horse Morris Jack-in-the-Green
  • Hammersmith Morris Jack-in-the-Green
  • Highworth Jack-in-the-Green
  • Oxford Jack-in-the-Green
  • Deptford/Fowlers Troop Jack-in-the-Green
  • Cheltenham Sweeps Jack-in-the-Green
  • Hastings Traditional Jack-in-the-Green
  • Whitstable Jack-in-the-Green
  • Ilfracombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • Bristol Jack-in-the-Green
  • Knutsford Jack-in-the-Green
  • Guildford Jack-in-the-Green
  • Bovey Tracey/Grimspound Morris Jack-in-the-Green
  • Horsley Primary School (Stroud) Jack-in-the-Green
  • Hever Castle Jack-in-the-Green
  • Kentwell Hall Jack O’Green
  • Wythenshawe Hall Jack ‘O’ Green
  • Yaxley Jack-in-the-Green
  • Brentham May Day Jack-in-the-Green

You can find more detail about each Jack HERE

Whilst this blog remains our main method of communication Twitter has been a great source of information, photographs and videos of this years Jacks. I’ve been favouriting and retweeting over the past week from our Twitter account which you can find HERE

I would love to be able to gather photographs of all of this years Jacks for our free online Flickr archive. Please send any pictures via the ‘Contact Us’ tab at the top of the blog page. All pictures are always copyrighted to the original photographer.

If you haven’t seen a Jack-in-the-Green yet this year there is still at least one more to come. The Carshalton Straw Jack is a celebration of Harvest that 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. The date for this event is still to be confirmed but you can visit the website here: Carshalton Straw Jack

There is also a possibility that a Jack will take part in the Pagan Pride Parade in central Nottingham on Sunday 7th August Pagan Pride Parade

Hastings Jack-in-the-Green 2016 © Rose Blakeley

Hastings Jack-in-the-Green 2016 © Rose Blakeley