Marshfield (ST7773), Gloucestershire
Country Life (1965)
TOWN AND COUNTRY: WHERE MUMMERS STILL SURVIVE [Guisers from Underwood, Notts. and Mummers from Symondsbury, Marshfield, South Verney and Sussex]
16th Dec.1965, Vol.CXXXVIII, No.3589, p.1683a
"'I am a Doctor',
'What is thy fee?'
'Five, pounds, but seeing as I know thee,
I'll charge thee ten.'
These words, heard from within a village barn, serve as a timely reminder that
Christmas is near and the mummers are rehearsing in at least one or two
villages in England. A century ago there must have been as many versions of
this ancient play as there were villages. Few of the ploughboys who performed
them realised that their drama of St. George and the Turkish Knight, and the
Doctor with his sacred 'opplis poplis drops' probably formed a legacy from the
Elizabethan chap-book versions, which may well have been derived from primitive
The Underwood Guisers, in the Nottinghamshire coalfield, whom the BBC recorded
in 1949, seem to have lost the habit of annual performances a year or two
later. The Folk Dance and Song Society, in 1951, made a colour film of the
Symondsbury (Dorset) Mummers, whose players learned their lines, like the
Underwood Guisers, 'from them as did it last year,' or by 'oral transmission,'
to quote the official jargon. The Marshfield Mummers, in Gloucestershire,
were revived in 1932 by the village schoolmaster, Mr. F.C. Thomas. A year
or two ago the choirboys of South Verney, in the same county, also revived
it; and a group of mummers in the Ouse valley near Lewes, Sussex, have
performed each Christmas Eve since 1950."
[South Verney appears to be a misprint for South Cerney.]
Jaqueline Simpson (Auth.)
London: The Post Office, 1981
This is a series of seven work cards produced by the Post Office for
use in schools. They accompany the commemorative stamps issued on 6th
Feb.1981. One is headed; "Entertainments: Mumming and Hobby Horses".
It features two photos of Marshfield, Glos., Mummers, and one of Antrobus,
Ches., play. There is also a description of the Antrobus horse, and a
general account of folk plays. Another card, headed "The Calendar:
Hallowe'en and Mayday" includes one photo of the Antrobus, Ches. play
team. "Folklore on the Farm" details a Plough Monday custom practised by
the Young Farmers' Club at Exeter Cathedral. The other work cards are:-
"The Lore of the Landscape", "Superstitions: Luck and Charms",
Supernatural: Fairies, Witches and Dragons", and "Teacher's Notes: