Cropwell (SK6836), Nottinghamshire

H.G.M.Murray-Aynsley (1889)

Madame H. G. M. Murray-Aynsley (Auth.)
DE LA SURVIVANCE DU DRAME Chez le bas peuple en Angleterre [On the Survival of Drama among the Lower Classes of England]
*Revue des Traditions Populaires, 1889, Vol.4, No.12, pp.599-612

This paper in French is divided into four chapters. Chapter I reviews the history of drama, encompassing Indian and Roman drama, as well as Miracle and Morality plays. Chapter II describes the Salisbury Giant, St. Christopher, and the hobby horse Hob Nob.

Chapter III gives the full text (125 lines) of a Plough Monday play from Notts. The location is not given, but was identified by E.K.Chambers (1903) as Cropwell, Notts., and the translation tallies with Chaworth-Musters (1890). The characters are; Thomas le Hardi [Bold Tom], Sergent [Recruiting Sergeant], Ribbenor [Ribboner], Dame [Lady], Threshing Blade, Hopper Joe/Sanky Benny, Laboureur de Ferme [Farmer's Man], Dame Jane/Madame Jeanne, Belzébuth [Beelzebub], and Le Médecin [Doctor].

Chapter IV gives the full text (103 lines) of an unlocated Lincolnshire Plough Monday play. The characters are; Tom le Bouffon/Tommy [Tom Fool], Sergent [Sergeant], Ribbenor [Ribboner], Madame Jeanne/Dame Jeanne [Dame Jane], Dame [Lady Bright and Gay], Esem Esqueesem, Le Médecin [Doctor].

Chaworth-Musters (1890)

Mrs. Chaworth-Musters (Auth.)
A CAVALIER STRONGHOLD: A Romance of the Vale of Belvoir
London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Ltd., 1890, pp.272-277,387-392

This book is a historical novel based on the Civil War period. Pages 272-277 introduce into the plot the performance of a Plough Monday play at Wyverton Hall, Notts. This is of dubious value, since the authoress had extrapolated back in time from plays she had seen performed there in the late nineteenth century.

Fortunately, she also added in appendix the full text (170 lines), and a description of costumes, for the play she had herself seen performed by "Plough Bullocks" from Cropwell. The characters comprise; Tom Fool/Bold Tom/Tom the Fool/Tommy, Recruiting Sergeant, Ribboner/Recruit, Lady Bright and Gay, Threshing Blade/Thrashing Blade, Hopper Joe/Sankey-Benny, Farmer's Man/Ploughman, Dame Jane, Beelzebub, and Doctor. The performance included a dance and songs.

Quotations are given from W.Hone (1825) p.72, and indirectly, Blomefield's "History of Norfolk".

This is key source for Notts. folk plays. It has been extensively cited by later authors, and extracts have been reprinted several times. It has also influenced the folk play tradition in Notts. A number of teams are known to have used the book as the source for their text.

Mrs.Chaworth-Musters was a correspondent with T.F.Ordish, probably the first English scholar to specialise on folk plays. It was for his benefit that she obtained the costume used for Hopper Joe, and which was donated to the Folk-lore Society. This contact probably explains the detailed nature of her record.

Curiously, this text was first published translated into French (H.G.M.Murray-Aynsley, 1889).

L.Chaworth-Musters (1892)

L. Chaworth-Musters (Auth.)
Reviews and Notices of New Books: HISTORY OF NOTTINGHAMSHIRE. By Cornelius Brown [Plough Monday at Cropwell and Tithby, Notts.]
Antiquary, Jan.1892, Vol.25, No.1, p.44-45

This review of Brown's book includes the following comment:

"Mr. Brown seems to be under the impression that the Plough Monday play is a thing of the past, but it was acted as lately as January, 1890 by the Cropwell and Titleby [sic] 'Plough Bullocks,' and an account of it sent to the Revue des Traditions Populaires by a Nottinghamshire member of that society who witnessed the performance at a neighbouring house."

The submission to the Revue des Traditions Populaires was by H.G.M.Murray-Aynsley (1889).

T.F.Ordish (1893)

T. Fairman Ordish (Auth.)
Folk-Lore, Jun.1893, Vol.IV, No.II, pp.149-175

This is the second of two largely theoretical papers, which have been of great importance in the history of the study of folk drama. Not only did they prompt a great burst of collecting activity throughout the country, but also the ideas given in them continued to influence folklorists up to the 1970s. Ordish's arguments on the probable origins and significance of the plays tend to be vague and convoluted, and one suspects from odd phrases in the paper that not everyone agreed with him even in the 1890s. Certainly in the light of the mass of material which has since been accumulated, his hypotheses do not hold water today.

The paper was read before a meeting of the Folk-lore Society, and towards its end he introduced a number of exhibits which he had brought along.

The first of these, a Plough-Monday play, came from Mrs. Chaworth-Musters of "Wiverton Hall, near Bingham, Nottinghamshire". Her covering letter is reprinted in full. In it she describes costumes, and mentions the characters; Hopper Joe, sergeant, young lady, Beelzebub, old woman, and doctor. She mentions little boys house visiting on Plough-Monday throughout the Vale of Belvoir. She also sent an actual costume, and an autograph manuscript of a song accompanying the play. Extracts from the play, evidently transcribed from her book [Chaworth-Musters, 1890], were read out.

This account has been much cited and reprinted by later authors, who because of the phrasing used for the location, have sometimes described the play as coming from Bingham, Notts., rather than Cropwell or Wiverton Hall.

The other exhibits were photographs of the Horn-Dance from Abbots Bromley, Staffs., and donated by Mr. Frank Udale of Uttoxeter.

These exhibits are now in the T.F.Ordish Collection of the Folk-lore Society.

E.K.Chambers (1903)

E. K. Chambers (Auth.)
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1903, pp.205-227

*Vol.I contains Book I - Minstrelsy, and Book II - Folk Drama. Book II is essentially a precursor to E.K.Chambers (1933) "The English Folk-play", and has the chapter headings:- (V) The Religion of the Folk, (VI) Village Festivals, (VII) Festival Play, (VIII) The May-Game, (IX) The Sword-Dance, (X) The Mummers' Play, (XI) The Beginning of Winter, (XII) New Year Customs, (XIII) The Feast of Fools, (XIV) The Feast of Fools (continued), (XV) The Boy Bishop, (XVI) Guild Fools and Court Fools, and (XVII) Masks and Misrule.

Chapter X, pp.208-210 gives a summary of the Plough Bullocks, Plough Monday play from Cropwell, Notts., published by Chaworth-Musters (1890), and H.G.M.Murray-Aynsley (1889). This gives the cast as follows; Tom the Fool, Recruiting Sergeant, Ribboner or Recruit, Threshing Blade, Hopper Joe/Sankey Benny, Ploughman, Doctor, Lady and Dame Jane.

Nottinghamshire Weekly Express (1907b)

[Anon.] (Auth.)
*Nottinghamshire Weekly Express, 11th Jan.1907

Extracts from Chaworth-Musters (1890) historical novel. It dramatises hypothetical Plough Monday activities at Wyverton Hall, Notts., during the Civil War by actors from Cropwell. Mrs. Chaworth-Musters' quotations from W.Hone (1837) are partially requoted.

A.H. (1926)

A. H. (Auth.)
PLOUGH BULLOCK NIGHT: A Merry Old Village Custom of Bygone Days
Nottingham Journal, 8th Jan 1926, No.31232, p.4 d-f

Mention of Plough Bullocks in records of the Old Mansfield Society, evidently meaning A.S.Buxton (1922/23). Also gives the usual general guff about plough trailing and the ploughing up of doorsteps in Notts., Lincs., and Leics., and about plough lights, taken from W.Hone (1837) by way of Chaworth-Musters (1890).

The full text is reprinted of the play from Cropwell, Notts., published by Mrs. Chaworth-Musters. This gives the characters as; Tom Fool/Bold Tom/Tommy, Recruiting Sergeant, Ribboner, Lady, Threshing Blade, Hopper Joe/Sanky-Benny, Farmer's Man, Dame Jane, Beelzebub and Doctor.

S.R. (1926)

S. R. (Auth.)
THE MUMMERS' PLAY: More Light on the Origin of Plough Monday Masque
Nottingham Journal, 12th Jan.1926, No.31235, p.4 d-f

The author starts by mentioning the reproduction of Mrs. Chaworth Musters' version of a Plough Monday play [Cropwell, Notts.] in A.H. (1926), and its discussion in E.K.Chambers' (1903) "The Mediaeval Stage". However he clearly disagrees with Chambers' discussion of folk plays. Race recognises two sorts of play, the Christmas St. George play, and the Plough Monday play. The St.George play is the older version, with a plot or structure dating back to pagan times, and a text dating back to the Crusades. The Plough Monday play he considers to be a "2nd edition" produced to extend the actors' touring season. He notes that Robin Hood did not appear in Notts., plays, and that the "Recruiting Sergeant" of Plough Monday plays probably originated with the Napoleonic Wars. He further notes that chapbooks were a source of some plays in the 1870s.

Quotes fragments of Notts., texts from Cropwell, the Selston district, and "North Notts. round Retford", the latter probably taken from E.Sutton (1913).

Nottinghamshire Guardian (1939a)

[Anon.] (Auth.)
The End Of Plough Mondays
*Nottinghamshire Guardian, 7th Jan.1939

A general description of Plough Monday, with quotations on the disrepute of the custom through malicious ploughing, from W. Howitt (1834). S.R.Hole (1901) and Chaworth-Musters (1890) are also cited. Mentions "guisers", and the characters Robin Hood and Maid Marion.

Places in Notts., listed as having seen the custom within living memory are; Newark, Mansfield, Southwell, Bulwell, Radford, Wiverton, Cropwell, and Tithby (1890), Caunton (1900), and East Markham.

F.W.Beazley (1946)

F. W. Beazley (Auth.)
Bulletin of the Nottinghamshire Schools Rural Science Panel, Dec.1946, No.19, pp.2-6

The full text (54 lines) of a Plough Bullock Night play from Mansfield, Notts., collected from the author's father Mr.S.Beazley. The characters are; St. George, Bold Slasher, Doctor, Beelzebub, Molly Mop, Mickey Bent, Polly Flinders and a Rake.

Mentions that at Clayworth, Notts., Beelzebub went by the name of Old Eezum Squeezum. Covers plough trailing, malicious ploughing and Plough lights with the usual quotes, probably derived from Chaworth-Musters (1890) which the author cites. The Cropwell cast is given as; Tom the Fool, Recruiting Sergeant, Ribboner or Recruit, Doctor, Lady, Ploughman, Hopper Joe and Threshing Blade. The final song is given.

S.R. (1947)

S. R. (Auth.)
Nottinghamshire Guardian, 18th Jan.1947, No.5305, p.3 c-e

A review of the origins of Mummers' Plays and Plough Monday Plays. Race regards as fanciful the idea that the Mummers' Plays were a survival from pagan times, on grounds of lack of evidence. Although it may have originated in the 18th century, it really became popular in the early 19th century, under the influence of such books such as "Hone's Year Book for 1826". Chapbooks were an important factor later in the century. He cites a chapbook published in Belper in 1846, and chapbooks published by Heywoods of Manchester in the 1860s to 1880s. The Plough Monday play evolved from the Mummers' Play in the mid 19th century. He cites E.K.Chambers' (1933) feeling that the Plough Monday plays were confined to Lincs., and adjacent districts.

Texts from Clayworth (R.J.E.Tiddy, 1923) and Cropwell (Chaworth Musters, 1890) are compared. The characters for the Clayworth play are given as; Bold Tom, Recruiting Sergeant, Farmer's Man, Lady Bright and Gay, old Eazum Squeezum and the Doctor. The Cropwell characters are given as; Tom the Fool, Recruiting Sergeant, Ribboner, Doctor, Lady, Beelzebub, Dame Jane and the Farmer's Men. The text from Chaworth Musters (1890) is also compared with another text from Cropwell Bishop collected later by Race (S.Race Collection, 1924, E.R.Granger). In the latter play, the Lady had been lost, and Beelzebub had been replaced by Easem Squeasem. Other plays mentioned include a team from Harby, Leics., which used to visit Cropwell Bishop regularly, and a Retford troupe in the 19th century, one of whose members wore an animal's head.

Race concludes by posing the question, "Why should the observance of Plough Monday be so general in the countryside, and its play confined to an area comparatively small?"

M.W.Barley (1951)

M. W. Barley (Auth.); E. F. H. D. (Col.)
Plough Plays in Nottinghamshire
Nottinghamshire Countryside, Oct.1951, Vol.13, No.2, pp.1-2

This is a request for information on Plough monday plays. Brief descriptions are given of the sort of information wanted, together with outlines of the possible historical implications of Plough Monday and of the questions it is hoped to answer. The names Plough Boys, or Jacks, or Jags, or Stots, or Bullocks are mentioned. He particularly asks for information on plough trailing, sword dances, and customs from western Notts., similar to those found in Derbys. & Yorks., such as Christmas Mummers, sword dances and Morris dances. In a brief mention of Hobby Horses, he notes the Christmas play of the "Poor Owd 'Oss" from Mansfield in the A.S.Buxton Collection, and other occurrences at Cuckney and Elkesley. He already had information on Plough Monday plays from the Notts. villages of; Blidworth, Mansfield, East Bridgford, Bothamsall, Cropwell, Clayworth, Flintham, Selston, Walesby, Whatton, Worksop, Norwell, Averham, Tollerton, and North Leverton.

Appended is the final song of a play from Blidworth, Notts., collected in 1925 by E.F.H.D. This was in fact first published in 1948 (E.F.H.D., 1948).

"J.Granby" (1952b)

"John Granby" (Auth.)
Local Notes and Queries: PLOUGH MONDAY'S PLAYS.: Part II
Nottinghamshire Guardian, 12th Jan.1952, No.5565, p.11 b

Crams a lot into three paragraphs. Says that the hobby horse was common on Plough Monday at Mansfield, Cuckney and Elkesley, Notts., until about 1870. Summarises M.W.Barley (1951) - again mis-cited as M.W.Bramley. Mentions the Cropwell/Wiverton play in Chaworth-Musters (1890), recent observances at East Markham and Weston-on-Trent, and the likelihood of Newstead and Southwell as good areas to collect. Ends by citing P.Crawford's (1938) "In England Still"

"J.Granby" (1953)

"John Granby" (Auth.)
LOCAL NOTES AND QUERIES: Nottinghamshire's Plough Mondays
Nottinghamshire Guardian, 10th Jan.1953, No.5617, p.10 a-b

Presents extracts from an account of Plough Monday plough trailing by Thomas Miller in his "Country Year Book", probably dating from the period 1830 to 1850 in Notts. This seems to be a miscitation of Millers' "Year-Book of Country Life" (1855), as his "Country Year Book" does not mention Plough Monday. His proposed dates are also likely to be wrong.

Also quotes an account [from F.M.E.W. (1923)] of Plough Monday, Plough Bullocks (plough trailing, 1870), and Christmas, Guisers (1872) at Bulwell Kilnyards, Notts. The play featured; St. George, Doctor, Beelzebub, Bess and Jack. Finally, briefly mentions Chaworth-Musters' (1890) text of the Cropwell and Tithby Plough-Bullocks play.

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."

D.Diemer (1979)

Diana Diemer (Auth.)
Nottinghamshire Countryside: The Plough Monday celebrations at Cropwell
Nottingham Topic, Jan.1979, p.86b-c

A description of a Plough Bullocks play from Cropwell, Notts., taken from Mrs. Chaworth-Musters (1890). The trailing of a plough and malicious ploughing are mentioned, and the lines of the final song are quoted. The characters are listed as; Tom Fool, Recruiting Sergeant, Ribboner/Recruit, Threshing Blade, Hopper Joe, the Ploughman, Doctor, Young Lady, Dame Jane and Beelzebub.

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.