S.R. (1947)


S. R. (Auth.)
Nottinghamshire Guardian, 18th Jan.1947, No.5305, p.3 c-e

A review of the origins of Mummers' Plays and Plough Monday Plays. Race regards as fanciful the idea that the Mummers' Plays were a survival from pagan times, on grounds of lack of evidence. Although it may have originated in the 18th century, it really became popular in the early 19th century, under the influence of such books such as "Hone's Year Book for 1826". Chapbooks were an important factor later in the century. He cites a chapbook published in Belper in 1846, and chapbooks published by Heywoods of Manchester in the 1860s to 1880s. The Plough Monday play evolved from the Mummers' Play in the mid 19th century. He cites E.K.Chambers' (1933) feeling that the Plough Monday plays were confined to Lincs., and adjacent districts.

Texts from Clayworth (R.J.E.Tiddy, 1923) and Cropwell (Chaworth Musters, 1890) are compared. The characters for the Clayworth play are given as; Bold Tom, Recruiting Sergeant, Farmer's Man, Lady Bright and Gay, old Eazum Squeezum and the Doctor. The Cropwell characters are given as; Tom the Fool, Recruiting Sergeant, Ribboner, Doctor, Lady, Beelzebub, Dame Jane and the Farmer's Men. The text from Chaworth Musters (1890) is also compared with another text from Cropwell Bishop collected later by Race (S.Race Collection, 1924, E.R.Granger). In the latter play, the Lady had been lost, and Beelzebub had been replaced by Easem Squeasem. Other plays mentioned include a team from Harby, Leics., which used to visit Cropwell Bishop regularly, and a Retford troupe in the 19th century, one of whose members wore an animal's head.

Race concludes by posing the question, "Why should the observance of Plough Monday be so general in the countryside, and its play confined to an area comparatively small?"

Index Terms:

Locations: Belper, Derbys. (SK3447); Manchester, Lancs. (SJ8397); Harby, Leics. (SK7431); Cropwell Bishop, Notts. (SK6835); Clayworth, Notts. (SK7288); Retford, Notts. (SK7080); Lincs.; Cropwell, Notts. (SK6836)
Years: Publ. 1947; Perf. 19th Century
Subjects: Plays; Animal Disguise; Plough Monday; Mummers; Hone,W. (1837); Chaworth-Musters (1890); Origins; Hone's Year Book (1826); Chapbooks; Belper (1846); Heywoods, Manchester (1860s-1880s); Chambers,E.K. (1933); Tiddy,R.J.E. (1923); Bold Tom; Recruiting Sergeant; Farmer's Man; Lady Bright and Gay; Eazum Squeezum; Doctor; Tom the Fool; Text Fragments; Ribboner; Lady; Beelzebub; Dame Jane; Race,S. Collection (1924, E.R.Granger); Easem Squeasem
People: Sydney Race (Auth.)
Archives: TDRG Archive, Ref. TD00202;
Notts. County Library, County Folklore Box, L39.9

Last Updated Jan 1992 by Peter Millington.