Location: Dunvant, West Glamorgan, Wales (SS5993)
Year: Col. 1916
Time of Occurrence: [Not given]
Collective Name: Christmas Sport


[Untitled letter to Sydney Rider]
Stanley Smith Collection, 1916



["One of the Warriors"]

A room, a room, a gallant room.
And in this room I do intend to play Christmas sport
Christmas sport in former age
Taught boys and girls to act upon the stage
If you do not believe what I do say.
Bolt in Father Christmas. Clear a way.

{Enter Father Christmas, leaning on his staff, saying}

[Father Christmas]

In comes I old Father Christmas.
Welcome in or welcome not.
I hope old Father Christmas
Will never be forgot.
Old Father Christmas has a short time to stay
Ere the Valiant Soldier will take his life away.

{Exit Father Christmas and enter Valiant Soldier saying}

[Valiant Soldier]

In comes I old Valiant Soldier
Bold Slasher is my name.
With my sword and pistol by my side
I am sure to win this game

{Enter Turkey's Knight saying -}

[Turkey's Knight]

In comes I, old Turkey's Knight,
From Turkey's land I sprang to fight.
I'll fight this man, with his courage bold
If his blood is hot I'll quickly make it cold.
{He then turns to the Valiant Soldier and addresses him.}
To whom? To whom thy challenge gave.

{Valiant Soldier says.}

[Valiant Soldier]

To thee! To Thee! Thou Turkish Dog.

{Turkish Knight says -}

[Turkish Knight]

Pull out they purse and pay.
Pull out they sword and fight
Satisfaction I shall have
Before I go away this night.

{They put up their swords and fight, which consisted of three cuts and a thrust alternately, which were as vigorously parried and at last by arrangement a thrust from the Valiant Soldier was allowed to get through the Turkish Knights guard and he fell grievously wounded.}

{whereupon the Valiant Soldier says.}

[Valiant Soldier]

Look see. Look see. What I have done
Cut down a man ere even sun
Me and seven more, beat eleven score
Marching in so many wars
Fought St George and all his men
Can any doctor be found
To cure this man of his deadly wound.

{Enter Doctor, saying}


Oyes, oyes,
In comes I old Ten Pound Doctor.
I can cure the itch, the palsy and the gout.
If there be one devil in this man,
I can kick twenty out. {Kicking the prostrate soldier.}
I've got a little bottle in my inside pocket called Alecampagne.
Drink a drop Jack and live to fight again.

{The Soldier springs to his feet and is followed out by the Doctor, who playfully stumbles over the floor.}

{The next duel is fought between a character Oliver Cromwell and Property Jack. The rhymes I can't remember, but the same process is gone through of the challenge and the response, whereupon "Old Noll" kills his man, who is miraculously revived by the Doctor. Tommy Noddy repeats a few lines. Then comes the finale. Beelzebub appears dressed in character from the wings and says}

[Tommy Toddy] [Note 1]

On comes I old Tommy Noddy,
All head and no body.
All feet and no toes,
Give me money and off I goes."


In comes I Old Beelzebub
On my shoulder I carry my club.
In my hand I carry my hat
To beg some money to make me fat.



The source of this text is letter written by W.Griffiths to Sydney Rider from Dunvant Post Office, dated 21st March 1916.

Griffiths' Introduction:

...I can however claim to be a trustworthy authority on "Christmas Sport" as it was called in this district, as I have myself played in most of the parts when quite a little boy. And now with regard to its origin in these parts - as far as I can discover no one remembers its first coming. It was handed down from boy to boy and locally no adult was permitted to have anything to do with it in stage management or performance. It was commenced about 3 weeks before Christmas and the boys used to commence preparing dresses and weapons for it about 6 weeks before performance started.
The performers were from 10 years to 15 years of age and were very elaborately decorated. They wore a kind of high Grenadiers busby of different coloured papers cut into thin strips, and round their bodies a kind of broad band of gilt paper and also paper rosettes in imitation of decorations. Each one wore a wooden sword, though sometimes steel fencing foils were used. These were used so vigorously as to draw showers of sparks, steel against steel, and this was greatly admired by the spectators. The play itself seems to me a trifle heterogenous locally, parts having been added from time to time and other changes made. The following was the form used when I played it.
One of the party is dressed up to represent Father Christmas like an old man with a long white beard, learning upon his staff. The other parties were the Valiant Soldier or Bold Slasher Jack, the Turkey's Knight sometimes called Turkey's Snipe, Old Oliver Cromwell. Tommy Toddy and Beelzebub, the two latter characters generally solicited the money from the spectators. The method of procedure was as follows - a House to House performance was given. A House was approached and a gentle knock given at the door, and when it was opened one of the warriors (generally the bravest boy as they did not know always what reception they would get) advanced into the middle of the room, moved any stray furniture, clearing the room and saying it in a loud voice

Griffiths' epilogue:

It seems to have built up in different periods, and additions made of characters which attracted public interest during their respective times. I have often thought that the Turkish Knight was added at a very early time, probably when the Crusades were matters of public interest.
Then old Beelzebub might have come down from the period of Miracle Plays, though the lines were probably later.
Tommy Noddy is another puzzle and is probably more of a biological than historical interest. If I remember, his lines were:
Note 1: Griffiths' lines for Tommy Toddy have been inserted at the appropriate point in his main text.

Peter Millington's Notes:

The electronic text was copied from the website of Celfyddydau Mari Arts: They had obtained it from Ron Shuttleworth, who in turn had acquired as a conference handout. The paper was: Paul Smith "The Stanley Smith Collection of Traditional Plays", International Conference on Traditional Drama, Sheffield, 7th March 1998.
This text has been proof-read against Paul Smith's original transcript.

File History:

1999-01-15 - Scanned by Celfyddydau Mari Arts
2002-02-22 - Encoded and proof-read by Peter Millington
2021-01-15 - TEI-encoded by Peter Millington


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