Balderton (SK8151), Nottinghamshire

Newark Advertiser (1896)

[Anon.] (Auth.)
Newark Advertiser, 15th Jan.1896, Vol.44, No.2118, p.5 f

"Last Monday, being the first after twelth day, was Plough Monday..." Previously there used to be a plough procession, when a plough was dressed with ribbon and other decorations and dragged along from house to house by 'plough bullocks'.

On this occasion, during the early part of the day, youngsters as young as 9 or 10, with "grimy faces and other disfigurements" stopped passers by and visited houses with a request of "Please remember the poor owd plough boy!"

At night the "genuine plough boys" - also called "morris dancers" - visited houses and performed a play. The plot of the play is described:

"The caste consists of which included a clown, a soldier, a waggoner, a lady(?) and a doctor, besides one or two others. To those who admit them into their houses they willingly go through their performance, which lasts about ten minutes. First comes the clown, who, after reciting in verse, as a sort of prologue, to the tune of 'Billy Barlow,' he is quickly followed by the soldier, in scarlet uniform, with forage cap jauntily worn on the side of the head and from which hang recruiting ribbons. Next comes the waggoner with whiip in hand, and plentifully bedecked with ornamental horse brasses. After being enlisted by the solder, the 'lady' appears on he scene, and an altercation ensues, when she is laid prostrate by a whack from the waggoner. A scene ensues and a doctor is sent for who arrives clad in a black tailed coat, with very much tail, a silk hat, and kid gloves. After reciting the numerous wonderful cures he has wrought, he essays to try his hand on the prostrate lady, and feeling the pulse, which he discovers somewhere near the nape of the neck, he declares her to be very low, in fact, he says she could not be any lower unless there was a hole (pronounced 'hoal' dug underneath her. Upon the administration of a whole box of pills - box included - she recovers, and the whole join in a song and dance, which concludes with a solicitation for a 'little of your money and a drink of your good beer.' All ends happily, and the dancers depart with a song, in which is expressed the wishes the host my have 'a happy new year, a pocket full of money, and a cellar full of beer.' A visit is then made to another house, and it is seldom, if not admitted, they are turned away without a contribution being placed in the cap."

Nottinghamshire Local History Council Collection (1960, T.Johnson)

Thomas Johnson (Auth.)
Nottinghamshire Local History Council Collection, Written 2nd Feb.1960, Ref.DD/121/1/6, 11pp. [sheets numbered 130-141]

Entry to an essay competition on old village life at Balderton, Notts. It gives details of local customs, including Harvest Home and Dole Day. Pages 138-139 give the following;

"Plough Monday Plays

I have seen a Plough Monday Play only once.

A friend of mine described the play as an Elizabethan travesty. Locally the boys kept up their custom until about the end of the last century.

The version I saw was as follows:-

Each character wore adornments to suit his particular role. A player entered the house and recited his piece and the others followed with additions to the story. I only remember Beelzebub and the Doctor. Beelzebub's lines started with

'In comes I old Beelzebub.
In my hand I carry a club' (perhaps to slay the dragon)

The doctor came in his turn with his bottle of Paregoric. The performance ended with the whole company chanting some doggeral."

Nottinghamshire Local History Council Collection (1960, F.E.Ghent & J.W.Ghent)

F. E. Ghent (Auth.); J. W. Ghent (Auth.)
"Memories of a Villager": BALDERTON [Plough Monday]
Nottinghamshire Local History Council Collection, Written 18th Mar.1960, Ref.DD/121/1/5, 5pp.

Entry to an essay competition on old village life at Balderton, Notts. Page 1 gives the following;

"Plough Monday - Beyond the brief references from the Wardens Accounts - 1814-15 relative to the ringers beer (The Plough Boys were expected to attend service before proceeding to re-enact their curious play to the principle houses in the vicinity.) information regarding this old custom is somewhat vague. The latter appears to have been an Elizabethan travesty, with other characters of a mediaeval play concerning St. George and the Dragon originally introduced many centuries ago by the priests after Divine Service. Although bell ringing ceased in 1816, this custom remained until the close of the 19th century."

The "Fritters Bell" was rung at 11 a.m. on Shrove Tuesday - Pancake Day, until 1890 or 1892, to signal a half day school holiday. Mention is also made of Goodying on St. Thomas' Day, "Dole" Sundays and Cobblers' Monday - the first Monday in March.

I.T.Jones Collection (1981, M.F.Smithson - a)

Miss M. F. Smithson (Inf.)
Balderton, Notts: Questionnaire from Miss M.F.Smithson, New Balderton 22/1/81
I.T.Jones Collection, Com. 22nd Jan.1981, Ref.K16-1

Questionnaire dated 22/1/81 from Miss M.F.Smithson, age 73, New Balderton. She remembered her father, Mr G.A.Smithson, who died in 1946 age 76, talking about going round the village of Balderton with other boys on Plough Monday doing a play. He used to recite the words to her but all she could remember was him saying something about Be Elzebub.

I.T.Jones Collection (1981, M.F.Smithson - b)

Miss M. F. Smithson (Inf.)
Balderton, Notts: Letter to Miss Smithson 23/1/81
I.T.Jones Collection, Com. 23rd Jan.1981, Ref.K16-2

Transcript of letter dated 23/1/81 to Miss Smithson thanking her for her letter and quoting information about Plough Monday in Balderton which appeared in the Notts Countryside Magazine in 1960.