Revesby (TF3062), Lincolnshire

Lincoln, Rutland & Stamford Mercury (1859)

[Anon.] (Auth.)
*Lincoln, Rutland & Stamford Mercury, 14th Jan.1859, pp.4b

"The rustic fooleries usually tolerated on Plough Monday brought to Stamford on the 11th inst. a large number of agricultural labourers, who with painted faces and tawdry disguises importuned the inhabitants for contributions. One stalwart fellow tried to do "the state some service" by bringing into ridicule the prevelant mania for crinoline. He had borrowed some flowing locks to adorn his cheeks, and had surmounted those with a pimping thing called a bonnet, and his nether limbs were enclosed in what ladies call a "skeleton", that is, a kind of network of steel, whalebone, or some other substance used to puff out gowns. This appandage is said to have caused many who saw his figure to blush; but the extraordinary apparel answered the purpose, as the man obtained many donations. Plough Monday is an English institution, just within the ancient boundary which, as regards some observances becomes more and more effaced. The day is so called because for the first time after Christmas the husbandman formerly resumed his ploughing. Brand's Antiquities describe a Plough Monday performance at Revesby Abbey, the seat of Sir Jos. Banks, Bart, in 1779, the dancing ploughboys being decorated in ribbons, each having a sword."

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.

* indicates data that not yet been validated against the original source and/or has yet to be completely indexed.