Mr. Bell (Inf.); Miss Kirby (Inf.); [Mabel Peacock] (Col.)
Mummers in South Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire [Plough Monday - also in Northants.]
c.1901, Vol.III, pp.146-149
Transcript of two letters originally sent to Mabel Peacock;
The first letter from Mr. Bell of Epworth, Lincs., relates to mummers called
Plough-Bullocks in South Notts., South East Derbys. and Leics.
From his own recollections of his youth in Notts. (probably mid 19th Century),
Mr. Bell remembered that the customs consisted of plough trailing, with singing,
dancing and horse-play in costume, but without dialogue. If people did not give
money, gardens might be ploughed up or other retribution taken.
He describes a particular incident involving his niece, Mrs. H.N. She was
stopped by a party in about 1881 when returning from school at Long Eaton to
her home at Toton. They made her give up all the money she had on her
(eightpence) under threat of being thrown into the canal.
Mentions enclosure of a copy of J.P.Briscoe's 'Nottinghamshire Gleanings', which
contains notes on the subject.
One of the mummers wore a top-hat and frock-coat (the "old lord") and another
was dressed as a woman, the rest had no distinctive dress, but were covered
with bright-coloured ribbons stitched to their clothes.
Boys were still going round at Stapleford, with whitened faces, and singing a
song which ended -
"If you haven't got a penny a halfpenny will do.
If you haven't got a halfpenny, God help you."
At one time they used to carry a plough round, - as at Hickling and if money was not given them would jag
up the ground round the door (hence, it is conjectured locally the name of 'plough-jaggers.')
It is not easy to tell which of Mr. Bell's statements relate to which
location. In particular, because it is not a usual Notts term, the explanation
of "Plough-Jaggers" may relate to Epworth, Lincs.
The second letter from Miss Kirby, Oxendon, Northants., says that there;
"The mummers used to come on Christmas Eve and go through some performance. On
Plough Monday the boys came to the door with masks on, but there was no
acting. In some villages, I have been told they took a plough round to the
houses. The custom has almost died out, though a few little boys still come