Retford & Gainsborough Times (1898)
NUDGES, NOTCHES, NOTIONS, FROM WORKSOP [Christmas Plays]
Retford & Gainsborough Times,
7th Jan.1898, No.1447, p.2a
Article lamenting the changes in Christmas customs from
previous years. Initially it talks about 'Christmas singing'
and then continues as follows:
"The 'mummers' still go about, but in a different style, and
neither 'St. George,' the 'King of Spain,' the 'Doctor,' nor
'Devil Doubt' with his grimy ace and stubbly broom, are the
same. The 'Owd Tup' and 'T'Owd Hoss' still go about under a
changed aspect, but the dear old 'Morris Dancers' are all dead.
At any rate Worksop knows them not. It is some years since the
last set of 'Morris Dancers' performed in the Golden Ball square,
and their interesting and really clever dance did not seem to be
greatly appreciated. The Morris Dance is still kept up in some
of the rural districts of Derbyshire, where old customs seem to
linger longer than in other parts.
By the way, mention of the 'Owd Tup' - or as the lads here have
it 'a little tup' - reminds me that the verses which are sung
when the 'Little Tup' comes to this door, are a very-much-hashed
version of 'The Darby Ram,' or 'The Darby Tup,'as given in the
hilly county and supposed to be a true version. The verses are
to be found in Jewitt's 'Ballads and Songs of Derbyshire,' and
are too long for quotation here. However, I may say that the
Worksop lads who take the 'Little Tup' round give many of the
wonderful details of this remarkable 'Derby Ram' and on the
whole what they say is well worth listening to, although sadly
mutilated. The 'Owd Hoss' has also lost many of its best features,
and the only one who I ever met who could give a fair rendering of
the old rhymes was an inmate of the Workhouse, who died some years
ago. He was good enough to write out his version for me, and I
found that even he - the old stager that he was - had mixed up
parts of the 'Tup' and the 'Ran-Tan' with it. The fact is, nothing
remains as it was."
Worksop, Notts. (SK5879); Derbys.
Perf. 1897; Publ. 1898
Mummers; Christmas; Owd Tup; T'Owd Hoss; Morris Dancers; Little Tup; Jewitt,L. (1867) "Ballads and Songs of Derbyshire"; St. George; King of Spain; Doctor; Devil Doubt; Christmas Singing; "The Derby Ram"; "The Darby Ram"; "The Darby Tup"
TDRG Archive, Ref. TD00227
Last Updated Apr 2005 by Dave Crowther.