M. W. Barley (Auth.)
PLOUGH PLAYS IN THE EAST MIDLANDS
Journal of the English Folk Dance & Song Society,
Dec.1953, Vol.7, No.2, pp.68-95
This is the most important single paper ever written on East Midlands folk
drama. Starting from the base of E.K.Chambers (1933) "English Folk Play", he
discusses 41 additional texts and other information from Lincs., Notts., Leics.
and Rutland. The approach is very methodical and academically sound - as one
would expect from a trained archaeologist.
There is an excellent review of early records of Plough Monday, Plough Lights
and related customs from various archives. He draws particular attention to the
cast of a play from Donington, Lincs. Concerning the much studied play from
Revesby, Lincs., he adds that Sir Joseph Banks, the famous botanist, must have
had some involvement. This is followed by details of a number of large
households who were visited by Plough Monday teams. He compares the early
nineteenth Century Lincs., plays published by C.R.Baskervill (1924) and modern
plays from the same areas, noting marked differences in the "wooing" scenes.
Comparative details are enumerated of; rewards received by the teams, malicious
ploughing, trailed ploughs, and costumes. Regarding music, Barley notes the lack
of recorded tunes, but is able to give three variants (including one from South
Scarle, Notts.) There is brief description of the vestiges of dances present,
and of Hobby Horses in North Lincs. He extensively discusses regional
variations in the plays, noting differences in characters and lines, much in the
manner of E.K.Chambers.
The Appendix lists around 70 records of plays. There is also a distribution
map. The list does not include a number of references in the text, and these
too are not to be found in the Barley's collection. Notts., examples are;
Averham, Orston, and Sutton-on-Trent.
It was very commendable that Barley did not attempt to speculate on the origins
of the plays, except for an unsuccessful search for possible links with Denmark.
It is unforgivable therefore that P.D.Kennedy felt obliged to add a massive and
patronising footnote giving the E.F.D.S.S. Establishment doctrine about the
supposed ritual and symbolical origins of the plays.
*Averham, Notts. (SK7654); Orston, Notts. (SK7741); South Scarle, Notts. (SK8463); Sutton-on-Trent, Notts. (SK7963); Donington, Lincs. (TF2035); Lincs.; Notts.; Leics.; Rutland; Revesby, Lincs. (TF3062)
Plays; East Midlands; Chambers,E.K. (1933); Plough Monday; Plough Lights; Baskervill,C.R. (1924); Rewards; Malicious Ploughing; Plough Trailing; Costumes; Music; Tunes; Dances; Hobby Horses; Bibliography; Distribution Map; Denmark
Maurice Willmore Barley (Auth.)
TDRG Archive, Ref. TD00015
* indicates data that has not yet been validated against the original source and/or has yet to be completely indexed.
Last Updated Jan 1992 by Peter Millington.