A whistle, a wassail about our town – part 1

Eric’s Annual Wassail

As usual with Eric’s Wassail, the weather proved kind to us with a dry, if chilly evening. The media were well represented with both BBC Radio and the print media being present.

At the appointed hour the gathered might of Lassington Oak were there and ready to take on the wandering challengers from the Forest of Dean Morris Men (no doubt plotting how to steal back young Tom). We started off with a lusty Bluebells, managing to stay upright on the sloping ground. Forest took theie turn and we responded with Idbury Hill. The gloves were off and Forest danced again, this time in the darkness as the lights went out as they started to dance. Light back on and we were off with the Upton Hanky dance – our final dance of the night. Again Forest were up for their last dance and – the lights went out again!

Dancing done, light restored we donned our wellies and tatters and made our way to the orchard, carrying flaming brands, to wassail the apple trees. The Judas fire was lit and duly stamped out by the marauding morris men (top tip of the evening – remove bells before stomping around in a fire!). The ring of fire was light around the tree and words were said, songs were sung, more fire was lit and we processed around the tree three times singing and making as much din as possible. The wassail bowl was passed among the gathered masses and the proceedings brought to an end by three shotgun blasts.

Mine host, Eric Freeman

Mine host, Eric Freeman

Returning to the farmyard we were met with mulled cider and a table full of goodies to munch upon. As the evening got colder and the food ran low people drifted off home and the hardcore made their way to the undercroft of the house to sing and play music until the early hours. Dave Blick sang the Rose in honour of a friend of the farm, a young lady who worked there and has now been struck down by serious illness.
Even Eric sang a song, at which point his dog came in and laid at his feet (his master’s voice calls).

The tunes and songs drifted into the early hours and so ended another fantastic evening of wassailing at Eric’s.

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Turkish Knight Seeks Justice in Gloucester

An Unconventional Report of Events

The Turkish Knight

The Turkish Knight

As the dust settles on the recent mumming events, the Turkish Knight speaks from the heart after suffering terrible abuse at the hands of the self-styled Valiant Soldier Bold aka Bold Slasher. Reposing in a secret location in the Fountain Inn, Gloucester (GL1 2NW), the Knight errant praises King George’s generosity and Doctor Brown’s kindness. The former for paying all fees and medical bills due and the latter for the excellent treatment.

Recalling how, as a stranger in a strange land, he stumbled haplessly into a local hostelry looking for some comfort and warmth during this festive season, he was initially greeted with suspicion and mocking. King George seemed the man to take most pleasure in taunting him. This noble Knight from Turkeyland recounts that during his heated verbal exchange with King George an obnoxious, lairy, drunken ex-soldier burst into the establishment, making extravagant claims, being abusive to King George and our honourable knight from Turkeyland. Says the Knight, “I was starting to fear for my safety at this point. This madman comes barging into the bar, yelling at the top of his voice. First he starts on King George, verbally abusing him and his people, then he turns to me. Threatens me first, accusing me of harming him. Then he challenges me to a dual – setting time and place. Of course, I agree, hoping to escape this situation, then this lunatic draws a sword and attacks me.”

On lookers watch in horror as Turkish Knight suffers unprovoked attack in crowded bar
On lookers watch in horror as Turkish Knight suffers unprovoked attack in crowded bar

The fight which ensued saw the Knight being cut-down heartlessly by the mad soldier, in front of horrified witnesses. King George, being a noble man, calls for a doctor to try and heal the wound. One Dr Brown Esq happened to be passing and offered his services to King George and the slain Turk, a moderate fee was negotiated. After applying a potion to the slain man, the doctor administered the miracle cure and resurrected the grateful knight. At this point the lairy soldier bold re-entered and called for the recently revived Turk to be departed to his homeland.

The esteemed Turkish Knight is at present enjoying the horsebrutality of the Fountain Inn, where he shall remain until the festive season is over. The knight will then repair to his homeland and will come no more nigh us until the next year.

Before he returns he invites you to join him at the Fountain Inn on Wednesday 17 December at 10pm for a re-enactment of the events and for a few songs and tunes to liven the evening before he leaves us for another year.

I shall leave you with a final quote from our honourable knight, “Valiant soldier bold! Pah! He is more Violent soldier cold. My thanks to King George and the Doctor and the generosity of the people of Gloucester. Happy Christmas one and all”.

Thanks and acknowledgments to Steve Rowley for organising the Mummers Unconvention once again this year in Gloucester and to Helen Marshall, artist and photographer, who provided permission for use of some of her photographs for this article and to the kind citizens of Gloucester who have to put up with us.

An unconvention of mummers

An unconvention of mummers

Lassington Oak Ale 2014

Apple Pie

Apple Pie

Saturday 14 November saw the first Lassington Oak Ale for a couple of years. Whilst the venue remained the same – and the traditional apple pies, one supplied by each of the side – the date has moved form the springtime to the Autumn.

This year saw 40 men attending, made up of men from Victory, Icknield Way, White Hart, Packington and Anker. The Ale was also graced by the squire of the ring, which was really a welcome home to Adam Garland as he danced with us from 1992 – 95; he even has a dance named after him ‘Adam’ aka Young Collins (he may tell you the story if you ask him!)

The ale was provided for this year for the first time by the local lads at Gloucester Brewery. With an excellent guest ale, Over the Top from Oakleaf Brewery provided by Victory Morris. This was a particularly fine ruby ale brewed to commemorate the fallen of the First World war, particularly apt as this was ‘poppy’ weekend – thanks lads.

As the sides arrived they were welcomed at the door with ale, and those who were staying over directed the separate hall, which served as the sleeping quarters, to set up there beds.

The dancing kicked off with our traditional Balance the Straw, Fieldtown; followed swiftly on through Bampton, Bledington and others including a demo dance from Victory and a solo jig from Adam the Squire.

After the squire’s jig, we set the hall for the feast, consisting of lamb stew and bread; baked, cooked and served by our own squire. After at least two servings of stew (the second one being bulked out by the remaining vegetarian offering) the apple pies and cream flew out of the kitchen. To give time for the food to settle a party piece was provided by a member of each of the attending sides, whether it was a song, tune or monologue. Again Adam showed his worth as squire by regaling us with a song.

The Squire of the Ring sings

The Squire of the Ring sings

After we had all made merry the tables and chairs were cleared to make way for more dancing. Mid-night came round (and Victory had scribbled out all of the dances on the board!) we finished up with Saturday Night, making a total of 28 dances for the evenings. People drifted of to their homes and beds as we tidied the hall and the hardcore set in for a few more tunes and songs whilst they finished of the remnants of the ale.

For those who chose to stay the night, morning brought a breakfast cooked by the side, with ample food for all, washed down with an almost endless supply of tea and coffee. As a side we did our final tidy up and made a visit to the remnants of THE Lassington Oak, before parting to make our own way home.

Thanks to all those who attended and made the hard work of the side worthwhile. Also thanks to our own squire and bagman for organising it and Steve for proving the feast. A good time was had by all and we hope to do it again next year.

Dancing at the Ale

Dancing at the Ale

 

The NOT Ale report 2014

Well, ladies and gentlespoons the ale went off without a hitch. There follows a write up nothing to do with the Ale (I haven’t got a round tuit. If anyone has a spare tuit, especially a round one please pass it on to me!)

Lassington Postcard

The Oak in the early 20th century

The Lassington Giant

LASSINGTON; It is one of Gloucester’s little neighbour by the Leadon, its farmyard church still keeping stones in its walls.
The base of the tower is Saxon, the rest of it Norman, and although the nave and chancel were made new in the 19th century both have still some of their ancient masonry. The arches of the porch and the chancel are Norman, decorated by the Normans with zigzag and by our English masons with ballflower of the 14th century. There is a fine oak pulpit of 1636, carved with roses and leaves, and an ancient coffin under a churchyard elm.
By the churchyard gate is a giant elm over 20 feet round, and near it a pathway runs across the fields up the hillside to a little wood where reigns another giant, the famous Lassington Oak. This venerable monarch, thought to be over 600 tears old, has a girth of 30 feet, but its arms have grown weary over the years and are supported by twenty props.
As we leave the hilltop wood a marvellous vista is revealed, with Gloucester in front of us and the spires of Cheltenham fading into the blue Cotswolds beyond.
Taken from The King’s England; Gloucestershire (April 1950)

Unfortunately the Oak is no longer standing. This year after the ale we took a mini pilgrimage out to Highnam woods to view what is left of the once mighty oak.

Lassington Lads at the Lassington Oak

Lassington Lads at the Lassington Oak

Anker Ale 2014

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=807745945934883&set=a.460321830677298.101893.100000984563449&type=1&theater

We set out rather later than planned Dimitris at the wheel, but made good time on the trip up to Nuneaton and sally  sat nav got us there without too many diversions. A very poor selection of folk music from Dimitris we still have some work to do on that boy, “Ace of spades” and “Smoke on the water” aren’t really suitable for Morris.

The Ale was in full swing when we arrived with dancing in progress, we lost no time at all and headed straight for the beer. But then we got stuck in with the dancing, Paul and Ed are now fans of Ascot and Ducklington traditions maybe Bill will come around to the idea? The attendance was good with men from various sides and the squire of the Ring was there. The food was good and there was plenty of it so dancing afterwards was a bit difficult but we managed.

The journey home was interesting I rather expect I had a little too much sloe gin and started gossiping like an old fish wife but it made the trip go quicker.

Cheers Anker for a great evening and we’ll see you next year, let’s hope that the Lassington Oak ale goes as well this weekend.

Morris 18-30(ish)

Some of the lads chillin' at Morris 18-30

Some of the lads chillin’ at Morris 18-30

The 18-30 weekend began with drinks at the Old plough in Birstall just outside Leicester on Friday with a practice session in the hall in between a little ale was consumed.

Saturday was a slow start, perhaps a little too much ale was consumed, but a fry up later we were all dancing our socks off at various venues around Leicester town centre. The small but perfectly formed Lassington Oak contingent enthusiastically danced as many dances as possible. We then moved back to the hall for the feast and more singing and drinking.

Sunday saw us all dancing at Bradgate park with plenty of Leicester Morris men did and despite sore heads, legs and various other body parts we made a good show of it with dancing near the ruins of Bradgate House.

Thanks to Matt for doing a good job of Squire and to Leicester Morris Men for their support and help in organising a great weekend for young Morris.

Sharing the fun were Leicester, Jockey, Lassington Oak, Leominster, Whitchurch, Great Yorkshire, Utrecht, Ebor, Leeds, Moulton, Letchworth, Wakefield and Kemp’s Men

Tom the most senile* man in town
(*Sorry that should be sensible!)

A wet night in.

In true knowledge of the age old secret ” it never rains on the Morris” we absolutely guarantee not to be put off by the weather, and therefore danced in the Swan inn, in the cosy and somewhat tight conservatory!

 

Thanks to Old Meg for the lovely company, and the wonderful music session that followed the dancing.

Big failure for Deputy foreman Roy who turned up to dance WITH NO BELL PADS.