Location: Sompting, Sussex, England (TQ1605)
Year: Perf. 1882
Time of Occurrence: St. Stephen's Day, Boxing Day
Collective Name: Tipteerers


Frederick E.Sawyer
Christmas Customs in Sussex
Notes and Queries, Series 6, 22nd Dec.1883, Vol.8, pp.483-484



{Sussex Tipteerers' Play}

{Dramatis personae}

{Father Christmas. Turkish Knight. St. George. Valiant Soldier. Noble Captain. A Doctor. Little Johnny Jack.}

Father Christmas.

In comes I, old Father Christmas
Am I welcome or am I not?
Sometimes cold and sometimes hot,
May old Father Christmas never be forgot!
Christmas comes but once a year,
But when it comes it brings good cheer;
So room, ladies, room;
I pray enter in, noble captain, and clear the way.

Noble Captain.

In comes I, that noble captain,
Just lately come from France;
With my broadsword and silver spear
I will make that jolly soldier dance.

Valiant Soldier.

In comes I, that valiant soldier;
Bold Slasher is my name;
With my broadsword and silver spear
I will fight and win this game.
My head is made of iron,
My body is made with steel,
And with my broadsword all in my hand
I will fight you in the field.
{They fight, and the Captain, is killed.}
Only behold and see what I have done;
I have cut and slain my brother down
Just like the evening sun.
I have got a bottle by my side,
What they call elecampane.
I will drop one drop on his chin,
{He does this, and the Captain revives,}
And if he is any man
Let him rise and fight again.
I have fought and done my best,
I will stand aside and see tlie rest.

{Enter ST. GEORGE.}

St. George.

In comes I, St. George,
That man of courage bold,
With my broadsword and silver [shield]
I won ten tons of gold;
I fought that fiery dragon, and brought him to great slaughter,
And therefore I fought and won the King of Egypt's daughter.
Therefore, if any man dare to enter this place,
I will cut him and hack him as small as dust,
And afterwards send him to a cook shop
To be made into mince-pie crust.

Turkish Knight.

In comes I, that Turkish knight,
Come from that proud Turkish land to fight.
I will fight St. George, that man of courage bold,
And if his blood be hot I will quickly make it cold.

St. George.

Whoa, my little Turk! You talk very bold,
Just like those little Turks that I have been told.
Pull out your purse and pay,
Pull out your sword and pay,
For I will have satisfaction before ye go away.


Satisfaction !

St. George.

Yes, satisfaction.


No satisfaction at all.
My head is made of iron,
My body is lined with steel,
And with my sword all in my hand
I will fight you in the field.

{They fight, and the Turk is killed.}


Only behold and see what you have done;
You have cut and slain my brother
Just like the evening sun.

St. George.

The same as I would you, sir.


Oh, is there a doctor to be found
To raise this man that lies bleeding on the ground?

Father Christmas.

Oh. yes, there is a doctor to be found
Can raise that man that lies bleeding on the ground.


Fetch the doctor.
{DOCTOR appears.}
Doctor, what is thy fee?


Ten guineas is my fee,
But ten pounds I will take from thee.


Ten pounds you will take from me?


Yes, ten pounds I will take from thee.


Take it.
Doctor, what can you cure?


I can cure the epsey pipsy, palsy, and the gout,
Pains within and pains without.
I have got a little bottle in my pocket
Which is called the Golden Gloster drops.
I will drop one drop on the root of this man's tongue
Which will strike heat through his body,
And raise him from the ground.

{Turk rises, and is addressed by St. George.}

St. George.

Arise, arise, thou cowardly dog,
And go back to your own country,
And tell them what old England 's done to you ;
Tell them they would fight ten thousand better men than you.

Johnny Jack.

In comes I, little Johnny Jack,
With my wife and family on my back.
My family is large, but I am small,
So every little helps us all.
So, ladies and gentlemen, just at your ease
Put your hands in your pockets
And give the poor little Christmas boys just what you please.


Sawyer's introduction:

"On St. Stephen's Day (December 26), now more usually known as Boxing Day, mummers go round in various parts of Sussex. These appeared as recently as the year 1882. They are called "tipteers," or "tipteerers," but the origin of this name is obscure. The performers are usually dressed in costumes made of glazed lining, and are provided with swords made of laths. They perform a rude play, which is probably The Seven Champions of Christendom, but the story is much obscured and altered by the ignorance of the per- formers. One version of this play is given by the Rev. W. D. Parish in the appendix to his Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect, and it will be seen that this is similar in outline to the "Hampshire Christmas Mystery" published in "N. & Q.," 2nd S. xii. 493. Several correspondents have kindly furnished the writer with versions and extracts from the play derived from living "tipteerers," and the following was written out by a little boy for Mrs. Pullen-Burry, of Rectory House, Sompting. The text has been slightly corrected, especially as to spelling and grammar, and the stage directions have been added."

Sawyer's Notes:

"All the tipteerers refer to "King" George instead of "Saint" George, but one of them admitted it was a mistake. The alteration was probably made during last century, out of compliment to the reigning monarchs, or else from some confused idea connecting them with the play. The threat of St. George to chop up the Turk "and send him to a cook shop to be made into mince-piecrust" recals the curious charge against the saint (who before his conversion was an army bacon contractor) of supplying bodies of dead men instead of hogs. It is still more remarkable that this old calumny upon the saint should have been referred to by counsel in the singular application made in the spring of 1883 to the Queen's Bench Division, by the Duke of Vallombrosa, for a criminal information against the editor of Vanity Fair for making a similar charge against the duke's late father in connexion with the French army."

Peter Millington's Notes:

This text if significantly different to the Sompting play given on David Staveley's website of Sussex plays at His version appears to be one that was radically adapted by Sompting Village Morris.

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2002-02-20 - Scanned and encoded by Peter Millington
2021-01-15 - TEI-encoded by Peter Millington


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