Donington (TF2035), Lincolnshire

M.W.Barley (1953)

M. W. Barley (Auth.)
Journal of the English Folk Dance & Song Society, Dec.1953, Vol.7, No.2, pp.68-95

This is the most important single paper ever written on East Midlands folk drama. Starting from the base of E.K.Chambers (1933) "English Folk Play", he discusses 41 additional texts and other information from Lincs., Notts., Leics. and Rutland. The approach is very methodical and academically sound - as one would expect from a trained archaeologist.

There is an excellent review of early records of Plough Monday, Plough Lights and related customs from various archives. He draws particular attention to the cast of a play from Donington, Lincs. Concerning the much studied play from Revesby, Lincs., he adds that Sir Joseph Banks, the famous botanist, must have had some involvement. This is followed by details of a number of large households who were visited by Plough Monday teams. He compares the early nineteenth Century Lincs., plays published by C.R.Baskervill (1924) and modern plays from the same areas, noting marked differences in the "wooing" scenes. Comparative details are enumerated of; rewards received by the teams, malicious ploughing, trailed ploughs, and costumes. Regarding music, Barley notes the lack of recorded tunes, but is able to give three variants (including one from South Scarle, Notts.) There is brief description of the vestiges of dances present, and of Hobby Horses in North Lincs. He extensively discusses regional variations in the plays, noting differences in characters and lines, much in the manner of E.K.Chambers.

The Appendix lists around 70 records of plays. There is also a distribution map. The list does not include a number of references in the text, and these too are not to be found in the Barley's collection. Notts., examples are; Averham, Orston, and Sutton-on-Trent.

It was very commendable that Barley did not attempt to speculate on the origins of the plays, except for an unsuccessful search for possible links with Denmark. It is unforgivable therefore that P.D.Kennedy felt obliged to add a massive and patronising footnote giving the E.F.D.S.S. Establishment doctrine about the supposed ritual and symbolical origins of the plays.

M.W.Barley (1954)

M. W. Barley (Auth.)
Journal of the English Folk Dance & Song Society, Dec.1954, Vol.7, No.3, p.184

Supplementing his 1953 paper (see TD00015), Barley states:

"The Donington document (pp.70-71): It is quite plain that this refers not to a Plough play, but possibly to a Mystery, as Miss Alford and Miss Dean-Smith have remarked.

Tunes (pp.77-78): In addition to the wassail song the Tollerton Plough play includes a song sung by the Recruiting Sergeant, 'Come all you lads that's bound for listing...'

Morris dancers (p.79, lines 8-9 and p.86, n.5): It appears that it might be wrong to regard the Lincolnshire instances of Plough Boys calling themselves Morris dancers as merely the result of popular confusion. 'Morris dancers' made their last appearance at Burgh le Marsh at Christmas, 1886 (MS. History of Burgh le Marsh by C.Brears, p.48, Nottingham University Library). Mr. Aram of Helpringham, Lincs., has stated that 'the Morris dancers went round with the Plough Boys; they used broomsticks to dance with'. I understand the Mrs. Barbara Lowe intends to deal with this and other similar evidence in a study of the early Morris. (Editor's note: See page 186 of this Journal)."