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

The Ruth Wylie Collection

The Ruth Wylie Archive

Many of our members will know Ruth Wylie as the extremely talented photographer behind the wonderful images in Mercia MacDermott’s book “Explore Green Men” Others may know that Ruth has built an incredible gazetteer of green men over more than thirty years and that much of it was published in “The Green Man, a Field Guide”, by Clive Hicks.

After much planning, on a slightly soggy day back in October 2020 I had the absolute pleasure of meeting with Ruth Wylie and her husband Jim to talk green men and to collect Ruth’s incredible collection of green man photographs, documents and correspondence. Ruth has been building the collection since the 1980’s when she stumbled across Kathleen Basford’s book “The Green Man” In Ruth’s own words:

“On cycling tours, it was fun to visit churches, photograph carving, whatever caught the eye! Then, during the 1980s, alerted to Kathleen Basford’s book The Green Man, I became aware of his commanding presence. Henceforward, my attention was concentrated!

Five large, fat albums later, the hunt continues! Home processing of b&w photographs allowed for greater control, but was too time-consuming, so was reluctantly abandoned for colour. Thanks to personal exploration and generous contributions from friends and numerous publications, I have compiled a register of sightings worldwide, regularly updated.”

Ruth contacted me back in June 2020 to ask if I would be willing to provide a safe home for her wonderful collection for the foreseeable future. I was of course honoured and am now custodian of the incredible archive that you can see pictured at the top of this post.

Redundancy after over thirty years in the same industry sees me starting my own business at the moment and so unfortunately I cannot yet spend the time that I would like to digitise and catalogue Ruth’s collection. But when time and finances allow I will do so and will ensure that it is made accessible to all.

I could not of course resist delving into Ruth’s wonderful archive and was delighted at the wonders I have spotted so far, including some fascinating correspondence between Ruth and her friend the late Kathleen Basford.

If there is anyone out there who knows of any funding currently available or would be willing to contribute financially themselves to allow me to tackle this wonderful project on a part time or full time basis please do get in touch.

And I would like to express my thanks to Ruth for entrusting me with her collection. Please rest assured that it is in very safe hands.