Cropwell Butler (SK6837), Nottinghamshire

T.F.Ordish Collection (1893, H.Nowell)

H. Nowell (Inf.)
[Example cutout figure from a Cropwell Butler Plough Monday Costume]
T.F.Ordish Collection, 20th Jan.1893, Nottinghamshire, No.2,

Note written on a printed memorandum slip with the red paper silhouette of a horse (possibly damaged) attached stuck over the 'From' and To' panels. It reads:


Jan. 20th 1893

From H Nowell Cropwell Butler

To Mrs Musters Wiverton Hall

Dear Madam

The enclosen his the kind of horse which his used for plough Monday. They are sewen on an old white shirt - they are cut out - in all colours

Yours truly H Nowell"

O.P.Scott (1960/61)

Oswald. P. Scott (Auth.)
Memories of a Villager: CROPWELL BUTLER [include Plough Monday]
Nottinghamshire Countryside, 1960/1961, Vol.21, No.4, pp.20-23

This article won second prize in the essay competition "Memories of a Villager" organised by the Notts. Local History Council

He recalls village life in the 1890s, and mentions the local customs of tinpanning, Plough Monday and Valentine's Day. Regarding Plough Monday he states; "...Plough Monday we lads spent a week going round the farms doing charades - Tom the Fool, the Soldier, the Lady Dame Jane, Beelzebub and the Doctor. I can still remember every word. The farmers supplied us with beef and ale, and after we had finished the village we spent a whole night at Wyverton Hall, four miles away and residence of the Chaworth Musters family, entertaining the ladies and gentlemen who had come down for the hunting season. More ale and cheese and seven shillings and sixpence each, which, in those days, were riches."

Nottinghamshire Local History Council Collection (1960, O.P.Scott)

Oswald Peter Scott (Perf.)
Competition: Memories of a Villager [Plough Monday at Cropwell Butler, Notts.]
Nottinghamshire Local History Council Collection, Written 23rd Mar.1960, Ref.DD/121/1/23, 4pp.

Runner up in an essay competition on old village life at Cropwell Butler, Notts. It is marked up for publication in 'Nottinghamshire Countryside' (O.P.Scott, 1960/61). It includes the following on page 1, referring to the 1890s.

"Local customs were many & varied. The custom of tinpanning an offender out of the village with his partner who had committed moral sin was still done when I was a boy. I recall two & lustily banged a kettle though I didn't then know what for. Plough Monday, we lads spent a week going round the farms doing charades. Tom the Fool, The Soldier, The Lady, Dame Jane, Beelzebub and the Doctor, I can still remember every word. The farmers supplied us with beef and ale and after we had finished we spent the whole night at Wyverton Hall, 4 miles away the residence of the Chaworth-Musters family, entertaining the Ladies and Gentlemen who had come down for the hunting season. More ale and cheese and 7/6 each which in those days were riches."

The essay also mentions Valentine's Day for the girls.

A.Cossons (1962)

Arthur Cossons (Auth.)
Transactions of the Thoroton Society, 1962, Vol.66, pp.67-82

Summarises information contained in entries to an essay competition run by the Nottinghamshire Local History Society in 1960 (see Nottinghamshire Countryside, 1959/1960). The essays entitled "The memories of a villager" were to be based on the entrants' own recollections of Notts., village life. The 66 entries are deposited in the Nottinghamshire Archives Office.

Information is described under the following headings; Agriculture, Crafts Trades Industries, Transport, The Squire, Domestic Life, Customs, Houses, Field Names, Education, Miscellaneous and Material Remains.

The customs mentioned include; Shrove Tuesday customs, Rantanning or Tinpanning, and Mumping on St. Thomas's Day. The competition announcement had particularly asked for information on Plough Monday, and a list is given of 24 places where this was mentioned. Places getting a more detailed mention were plays at Blidworth, Cropwell Butler (where the characters were Tom the Fool, Soldier, Lady Dame Jane, Beelzebub and Doctor), Ranby (Horse's Head and Morris Dancing), and Shelford (Plough trailing).

E.H.Rudkin Collection (1974, A.Harper)

Aubrey Harper (Inf.)
A Plough Monday Play from Cropwell Butler, Notts.
E.H.Rudkin Collection, Com. 22nd Feb.1974

Manuscript copy of the Cropwell Plough Monday play published by Mrs. Chaworth-Musters (1890). There is also a typed-up version. This was sent to Rudkin by Aubrey Harper of Cropwell Butler, Notts., via Ian Beckwith. In a manuscript letter sent later, Harper explains his own experiences of the play thus:

"I must tell you that the copy I have sent you was written out in the early 1900's by a lady wholived quite near to me. The version I remember as a boy - and I took the part of the doctor just once - was rather different. In fact some of the 'actors' not too sure of their lines were apt to fill in with their own words! Being passed on by word of mouth rather than a written script and so far as I know the play has not been performed here at Cropwell for the past fifty years before tape-recording was thought of. A pity.

About the dancing - this was not a set thing, just a linking of arms and a jig. The songs also, were often made up verse to some well known tune.

I recollect that the play, as performed in my school days was most exciting, and entertaining, in spite of its shortcomings and for a performer to forget his lines was greeted with applause."

Evening Post [Nottingham] (1975a)

[Anon.] (Auth.)
Mummers in action [Owd Oss Mummers at Cropwell]
*Evening Post [Nottingham], 13th Jan 1975, p.18

States; "A group of actors - the Owd Oss Mummers group - are bringing a touch of times past to Cropwell Bishop and Cropwell Butler.

In olden days farm labourers in Nottinghamshire used to tour local farm houses performing short plays in return for money and refreshments.

The group, which specialises in performing folk plays, has researched the custom in the Cropwell Bishop area and returned there last night to reconstruct a 15-minute version of the play. Today, Plough Monday, two more local public houses are being visited."

J.Whitelaw & P.Barber (1980)

'Squire' John Whitelaw (Auth.); 'Bagman' Phil Barber (Auth.)
Who are the owd 'oss mummers?
*Nottingham Topic, Jul.1980

Profile of the Nottingham revival folk play side the Owd Oss Mummers. It including 3 photos of them performing a Gloucestershire play with the characters Tom Pinney, Doctor, Maid Marion, Tanner, Little John and Robin Hood. A further photo shows them in the costumes of a St. George play. The article mentions plays being performed at Christmas and Plough Monday in the East Midlands, and also mentions the Owd 'Oss play from Mansfield after which they were named. The article recounts the revival of a play in Cropwell Bishop and Cropwell Butler in 1975. It also gives one or two anecdotes of performances.

I.T.Jones Collection (1981, C.Dowty - b)

Mr. Charles Dowty (Inf.)
Oxton, Notts: Notes on phone call from Charles Dowty 17/3/81
I.T.Jones Collection, Col. 17th Mar.1981, Ref.K4-11

Notes on phone call from Mr Charles Dowty. His father took over the blacksmith's shop in Oxton in 1910 from Tom Shipside. His father played the dame in the Plough Monday play in Cropwell Butler in the 1890's and he remembers him saying the lines 'In comes I Dame Jane with my neck as long as a crane'. He knows nothing about Plough Monday in Oxton. He suggests contacting his old school friend Rev John Spencer, who revived the play in Dunham-on-Trent when he was vicar there but who now lives in Sutton-on-Trent.

Radio Nottingham (1983)

Simon Harris (Presenter); David Markham (Presenter)
Nottingham Connection [Plough Monday at Cropwell Butler, Notts.]
Radio Nottingham, Broadcast 10th Jan.1983

Notes on recollections of Plough Monday at Cropwell Butler, Notts. by someone named Denis. The children had a half day's holiday from school. About 20 to 25 lads went out with old trimmings in their hats saying "Do you remember plough boys". They went to a big house and sang Rule Britannia or other old songs (or requests). Hot buns were brought out, and at one place there were prizes for the best trimmed hat. They carried collecting boxes and finished up at the school where the teacher shared out the money. The custom finished at the end of the war.

P.Millington (2002)

Peter Millington (Auth.)
The Cropwell Ploughboy's Costume of 1893
Traditional Drama Forum, Jan.2002, No.4,

Paper concerning a Ploughboys costume from the Plough-Monday play from Cropwell, Notts. A costume, made by a performer, was sent by Mrs. L. Chaworth Musters of Wiverton Hall to T.F.Ordish, who exhibited it during a lecture to the Folk-Lore Society in 1983. Letters from Mrs. Chaworth Musters to Ordish, and from her informant H.Howell of Cropwell Butler are quoted. From these, there is are discrepancies between the their descriptions of the costume sent to Ordish, and the costume he eventually bequeathed to the Folk-Lore Society - photos of which are given. It seems likely that this costume is a contemporary reconstruction.

This costume is sometimes attributed to the character Hopper Joe, but this is not clear cut from the correspondence on which this attribution is based.

The need to include the "Ploughboys Song" in the Ordish Collection with the Cropwell text is also discussed. This was written down by Wm. Parnham of Tithby on the 19th Jan.1893

B.Brown & P.Millington (2005)

Bill Brown (Auth.); Peter Millington (Auth.)
Correspondence: Cropwell Ploughboys' Costume
Traditional Drama Forum, Oct.2005, No.13,

This correspondence follows up the article, P.Millington (2002), about the Cropwell Ploughboys costume of 1893. Separating the applique figures by colour using digital image processing shows that the red cotton figures were attached symmetrically first, and the black silk figures and lettering added asymmetrically later. It is suggested that the costume originally made by Mr. Howell of Cropwell Butler only had red figures, and that Mrs. Chaworth-Musters added the black figures to match her earlier published description and reversed the letter 'N' and 'S' to make the costume look more primitive or 'folksie' before it was displayed to the Folk-lore Society by T.Fairman Ordish.

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