The Lydiard Archives

New

New items added each week!

These include rarely seen objects like this portrait of Henry 1st Viscount Bolingbroke which hangs in the UK Government Cabinet Rooms.

New items added each week!

Lydiard Mummers Play

Lydiard Mummers Play
Hidden Content, Images, Videos and Documents

We hope you are enjoying browsing The Lydiard Archives. Sign up for free access to the entire contents of the Archives and receive regular updates on new collections and featured artefacts. We are uploading content daily, and we look forward to welcoming you to our free community.

Login Sign up

'Here come I, old Saucy Jack,

With all my family at my back.

Christmas comes but once a year,

And when it comes it brings good cheer -

Roast beef, plum pudding and mince-pie,

And who likes that any better than I? ' 

Mummer's plays or folk plays date back to the13th century and Christmas was the main season for 'mumming'. Bands of local people, disguised themselves in costume and painted their faces, visiting the big houses in their neighbourhood and entertaining the local gentry with comic drama featuring stock characters.

The earliest written evidence for the plays is in the mid to late 18th century of which this is an example. The Lydiard Park household would have gathered in the main hall to watch the mummers. A roaring fire, a fine supper and liberal quantities of beer and wine from the cellar no doubt adding to the jollity.

The play includes characters called Most High Proud (explained as the King of Spain), Beelzebub, St.George and minor characters - Tinker, Soldier, Doctor and Saucy Jack.

This version of the play was collected by the Swindon poet Alfred Williams (d.1930) and was published in the Wiltshire Gazette in 1926. William's original handwritten and typed manuscript (shown here) is held by the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre and was digitised as part of a collaborative project with the English Folk Dance & Song Society (EFDSS) Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. An extract of the play (also shown here), can be found in 'A Wessex Nativity': Celebrating Midwinter in Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire by John Chandler; published by Hobnob Press, 2010.



Year:
1300-1930
Author:
Unknown
Type:
Manuscript
Location:
Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre
Copyright:
Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre
Credit:
EFDSS Vaughan Williams Memorial Library
Last updated on:
Thursday 2nd December 2021

Items of Interest

Painting the Past, a play by Prime Theatre 2019
Painting the Past, a play by Prime Theatre 2019

'Painting the Past' was researched, scripted and p...

Photographs (6) of Prime Theatre performing at Lydiard Park, 2019
Photographs (6) of Prime Theatre performing at Lydiard Park, 2019

Members of Swindon's youth theatre performing thei...

Plan of Lydiard Park, c1700
Plan of Lydiard Park, c1700

The plan is believed to date from around 1700 and...