Location: South Scarle, Nottinghamshire, England (SK8463)
Year: Perf. before 1882
Time of Occurrence: Plough Monday
Collective Name: Plough-Bullocking, Morris Dancing


Plough Monday Plays
Nottinghamshire Countryside, Jan.1952, Vol.13, No.3, pp.7-8



{Enter TOM FOOL}


In comes I, bold Tom,
A brisk and a live young feller
We've come to taste of your good beef and ale
For they say its both ripe and mellow
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen too,
we're plough-bullocking [or morris dancing as the case may be] tonight,
makes me so bold as to call.
Don't take it as the end - all I've had to say;
There's many more pretty boys and girls coming this way.



In comes I who's lost me mate,
Drooping, tears runnin' down me pate.
Pity my condition, I do declare
For a faithless young girl I am in despair.


Cheer up, young man, don't die in despair,
Perhaps in a short time the Lady will be here.

{Enter THE LADY singing in high falsetto}

[MIDI music sound file] [ABC music notation]


Behold the lady bright and gay
Good fortune and sweet charms,
So scornfully I've been thrown away
Into this looby's arms.
He swears if I don't wed with him
As you shall understand,
He'll surely list for a soldier
Into some foreign land.



In comes I, a noble recruiting serjeant
I've arrived here just now
And have orders from the Queen
To 'list all jolly fellows
That follow horse, cart or plough
Oh, tinkers, tailors, pedlars, nailers,
All other men at my advance,
The more I hear the fiddle play
The better I can dance.


Well, kind serjeant, I likes your offer,
Time with us will sweetly pass
Dash me wig if I'll grieve any longer
For this proud and saucy lass.


Since my love has 'listed
And entered volunteers
I neither mean to sigh for him
Nor yet shed any tears.
I do not mean to sigh for him
I'd have him for to know,
I'll have another sweetheart
And with him I will go.

T.F. {turning to Lady}

Dost tha love me, love?


Yes, and to my sorrow.


When's to be our weddin', love?


Tommy, love, tomorrow.

T.F. and L.

Tra-la-la, etc. {ad infinitem} .



In comes I, old Dame Jane
Neck as long as a crane,
Dib-dabbing over the meadow.
Once I was a blooming maid,
Now I'm a down old widow, {turns to T.F.}
Tommy lad, a long time I've sought you,
But now at last I've caught you
My love for you ne'er lasted,
And since you called me what you did
Tommy lad, take to your bastard.


Child, Jane, it's none of mine -
'Tis not a little bit like me.


Look at its eyes, nose, mouth and chin,
It's as much like you as ever it can grin.


Who told you to bring it to me?


Th' overseer of the Parish
Said I was to bring it to the
Biggest fool I could find -
And I thought you was him.


Take it away you saucy Jane and begone!



In comes I, old Beelzebub
On my shoulder I carry a club
What old woman can stand before me -


I can - my head is made of iron
My body lined with steel
Me shins are made of knuckle bone
And you can't make me feel.


Well if you head is made of iron
And your body lined with steel
And your shins arc made of knuckle-bone
I still can make you feel.

{fells her and infant with his club}


Oh, Belzie, Belzie, what have you done?
You've killed old Jane and lamed the son!
Five pounds for a doctor.


Ten pounds to stop away.


Fifteen pounds to come in.
Oh dear Doctor do come in.

{Enter DOCTOR}


In comes I, the Doctor.


You the doctor ?


Yes, me the doctor.


How came you to be a doctor?


I've travelled through England, France and Spain
Round the world and back again.
And from the fireside to my grandmother's cupboard
Where I had many a piece of pork pie
Which made me the fine fellow I am

{meaning look at lady of the house}

T F.

Clever Doctor, try your skill.


Thanks, kind Sir, and so I will.
I'll feel the woman's pulse {places hand on ankle}


Is that where you feel a pulse?


Yes. where would you feel?


Back o' the head, of course.

D. {feels back of head}

She is not dead, she's in a trance
I'll give her a sup of my wiff-waff
Put it down her tiff-taff
If she can dance, you can sing
Then rise, old girl, we'll all begin.


Good master and good mistress
You see our fool is gone
We take it as our business
To follow him along
We thank you for civility
And what you've given us here
And now we wish you all Goodnight
And another Happy Year.


Introduction and letter:

MR.M.W.BARLEY'S article on Plough Monday plays aroused considerable interest amongst our readers, many of whom have sent fragments of plays performed in the villages in their childhood days, and the Editors are most grateful to these readers for their help.
The most notable contribution in the form of a complete piay came from Mr.J.G.Holmes of Thurgarton whose letter we print below.
Dear Sirs,
After seeing your appeal for Plough Monday traditional plays by a team of plough boys I write to say that I was one of the team of seven characters over 70 years ago. I am now 89 and was one of the characters for 3 years in succession at a little village of South Scarle, 7 miles south-east of Newark. Five generations of us lived in that village. I left there 51 years ago, but I still remember the play word for word.
Our team had no thresher in it. Ours was Dame Jane and her baby (doll) who was the one injured and brought to life by the doctor, who wore a top hat, black long coat and kid gloves. A clown was leader. We went to the surrounding villages at nights during the week, and our own village on Monday night. We were somebody then.
I should be pleased to give more details if any use to your collection, but I have no one to write it down for me. I am not quite fit or I would come to Nottingham and see you. If by chance you are coming this way call to see me. Please excuse all mistakes as I have not been to school lately.
Awaiting your reply.
yours respectfully, J.G.Holmes.
We did visit Mr. Holmes and heard from him and recorded the complete Scarle Plough Monday Play which we publish below. Any inaccuracies in rhe text of the play are due only to the dictation speed and dramatic fervour displayed by Mr.Holmes, who actually sang a great deal of it, and enjoyed the rendering of it as much as we did.

Description of costumes:

Actors in Plough Monday Play
1. Tom Fool, dressed clown fashion, odd socks odd boots, face made up red and white.
2. Farmers Man in long smock, old corduroy trousers tied with string below knees.
3. The lady. Long skirts, shawl, elegant hat and shoes !
4. The Recruiting Serjeant. Scarlet uniform of the time.
5. Dams Jane. Bedraggled edition of The Lady, skirts, shawl, old hat and carrying big doll for babv wrapped in a shawl.
6. The Devil (or Beelzebub) Ordinary working clothes plus inverted sack with slits made to put head and arms through. Whole of body then padded thickly with straw and string run round bottom of sack to prevent stuffing escaping.
7. The Doctor. Top hat, long black coat, gloves and cane.

Peter Millington's Notes:

No tunes were published with Mr.Holmes' text. The tune given here was collected collected from him and published separately in:
M.W.Barley (1953) Plough Plays in the East Midlands, Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Dec.1953, Vol.7, No.2, p.78.
Barley introduces the song thus:
"From South Scarle Mr.Holmes of Thurgarton, Notts., has preserved for us the tune used for the Lady's song:"

File History:

2004-06-30 - Scanned and encoded by Peter Millington
2021-01-15 - TEI-encoded by Peter Millington


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