Cuckney (SK5671), Nottinghamshire

A.S.Buxton Collection (No Date - a)

*Albert Sorby Buxton (Col.)
*"The Owd Tup" [Christmas play]
A.S.Buxton Collection, Buff notebook, pp.43-47

Full text (26 lines) of "The Owd Tup" or "T'Owd Tup" song and play, possibly from Cuckney Notts. "I and Our Old Lass" went in first to recite the introductory verse, and then everyone sang the rest of the play. A footnote mentions George Washington singing this song to a child relative.

A transcript in the P.T.Millington Collection is annotated "Cuckney", and in "Ritual Animal Disguise", E.C.Cawte (1978, p.240) also lists a Tup play from Cuckney in the A.S.Buxton Collection. However, there is nothing in this item to confirm that it comes from Cuckney. On the other hand, it does immediately follow the Cuckney "Poor Owd Oss" play in Buxton, and there may be some indication with a copy in the E.L.Guilford Collection (M/9912/1). This has yet to be checked.

A.S.Buxton Collection (No Date - d)

*Albert Sorby Buxton (Col.)
*The Christmas Play of the "poor owd oss" [Cuckney, Mansfield & Elksley, Notts.]
A.S.Buxton Collection, Buff notebook, pp.33A-42

*Source states:

"The play of the 'Poor owd oss' was played in Mansfield at Christmas time up to about 1870, it then died out and to-day even the words seem lost except for an odd time or two. Previous to the War, 1914, however it was played each Christmas at Cuckney and at Christmas 1921 it was again revived for the entertainment of the village children at their school party. The words which follow were obtained from the man who has played the part of the horse's head for some years. The custom was for several men to go round to the houses & public houses and when they had entered to repeat the first three verses then they fetched in the 'owd oss', a gruesome figure, being a horse's head fastened to a stick and carried by a man draped with a dark cloth. The play is more or less suggested by the words.

In the last verse a blacksmith was summoned and he attempted to shoe the horse. Rather rough bye-play followed when the blacksmith was kicked over by the horse. Drinks were then called for by the company, and after all had been supplied, the server approached the horse and said 'Could th'owd oss manage at drink". The jaws of the horse were so arranged that a glass could be put in them and so the player got his refreshment without taking off his things.

The play varied slightly as to the words in the different towns and villages but in the main was the same. for instance at Elksley they said"

'And where do ye think he took me Sir?
He took me down a suff and where do you think he landed?
Against the blacksmith's shop.'"

There then follows the full text of the Cuckney version, comprising eight verses, amounting to 48 lines.

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"

R.A.Harris Collection (1960s, B.Stockdale)

Mr. Bernard Stockdale (Inf.)
*Mummering [Cuckney, Notts., c.1907]
*R.A.Harris Collection, Col. late 1960s

*Text of a Mummering play from Cuckney, Notts., performed about 1907. The characters are: Triangle Player, Black Prince/Black Prince of Paradise, Bold Slasher, Old Lady, Doctor, and Harmonica Player. Both the introductory lines of the Black Prince and the lines of the lament hint at there once having been a character called George.

The Triangle Player enters and introduces the play. The Black Prince enters, followed by Bold Slasher, who offers a challenge. The Prince takes it up, they fight, and the prince falls wounded. His defeat is lamented by the Old Lady. She calls a Doctor and interrogates him about his travels and cures. The Doctor cures the Prince, and the play ends with a song.

I.T.Jones Collection (1981, S.Ashmore - a)

Mr. Sid Ashmore (Inf.)
Cuckney, Notts: Letter from Mr S. Ashmore 10/1/81
I.T.Jones Collection, Com. 10th Jan.1981, Ref.K6-1

Letter from Mr. S.Ashmore giving information on customs in Cuckney seventy years previously. At Christmas men went round with the Owd 'Oss and boys as mummers. He gives a few lines from each.

I.T.Jones Collection (1981, S.Ashmore - b)

Mr. Sid Ashmore (Inf.)
Cuckney, Notts: Letter to Mr Ashmore 21/1/81
I.T.Jones Collection, Com. 21st Jan.1981, Ref.K6-2

Transcript of letter of thanks to Mr. Ashmore

I.T.Jones Collection (1981, L.Simpson - a)

Miss L. Simpson (Intermediary)
Cuckney, Notts: Letter from Miss L. Simpson, Welbeck 25/2/81
I.T.Jones Collection, Com. 25th Feb.1981, Ref.K6-3

Letter from Miss Simpson, Welbeck Abbey W.I. including the following paragraph.

"One of our members has lent me a play which was performed by mummers in Cuckney as remembered by a Mr. Bernard Stockdale, now aged 86 years. I send a copy herewith."

The copy is TD00653

I.T.Jones Collection (1981, B.Stockdale & L.Simpson)

Mr. Bernard Stockdale (Inf.); Miss L. Simpson (Intermediary)
Cuckney, Notts: Text of Cuckney play (Mr Bernard Stockdale) from Miss Simpson
I.T.Jones Collection, Com. 25th Eeb.1981, Ref.K6-4

Text of play sent with letter from Miss Simpson (TD00652) reported to be from the recollections of Mr Bernard Stockdale of mummers in Cuckney. It states that this is a Christmas village show of boys in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Characters are Don, Black Prince, Bold Slasher, The Old Lady and The Doctor. 48 lines of text.

I.T.Jones Collection (1981, B.Stockdale - a)

Mr. Bernard Stockdale (Inf.)
Cuckney, Notts: Notes on visit to Mr Bernard Stockdale 13/4/81
I.T.Jones Collection, Col. 13th Apr.1981, Ref.K6-6

Notes on a visit to Mr. Bernard Stockdale, age 85 at Nether Langwith, Mansfield. The script received from Miss Simpson, had been passed on by his sister and had been written down about 2 years previously, before his recent stroke. He could still quote large portions of the text in line with what had been written down. The mummers' play had been performed by boys from 11 to 13 years old. They had a group of five including himself and Sid Ashmore. They used to perform in the lodges round the Welbeck estate, in various houses, the pub and various quarters in the abbey. An older side in Cuckney used to go out doing the Owd 'Oss.

I.T.Jones Collection (1981, S.Ashmore - c)

Mr. Sid Ashmore (Inf.)
Cuckney, Notts: Notes on visit to Mr Sid Ashmore 13/4/81
I.T.Jones Collection, Col. 13th Apr.1981, Ref.K6-7

Notes on visit to Mr. Sid Ashmore, 3, Ten Row, Cuckney who had written to me after seeing the article in the Mansfield CHAD. He was about 13 when he performed in the mummers play. The notes say that he was aged 74 at the time of the visit making him 11 years younger than Bernard Stockdale, which seems wrong. He was Doctor and other parts were played by his brother Percy, Bernard Stockdale and a couple of others who are now dead. They had been taught the play by his father who was then aged 50. They used to go round houses and into pubs in the week before Christmas and also into the kitchen wings of Welbeck Abbey. He could now only remember a few lines. The Owd 'Oss was done by much older married men. He recalled about 3 lines of dialogue.

I.T.Jones Collection (1981, S.Ashmore & B.Stockdale)

Mr. Sid Ashmore (Inf.); Mr. Bernard Stockdale (Inf.)
Cuckney, Notts: Composite text written by ITJ from visits to Sid Ashmore & Bernard Stockdale 13/4/81
I.T.Jones Collection, Col. 13th Apr.1981, Ref.K6-8

Composite text of the Cuckney mummers play written after visits to Sid Ashmore and Bernard Stockdale on 13th April 1981. 50 lines of text with characters Dan (compere), Black Prince, Bold Slasher, Old Lady, and Doctor.

I.T.Jones Collection (1981, B.Stockdale - b)

Mr. Bernard Stockdale (Inf.)
Cuckney, Notts: Letter to Bernard Stockdale 27/4/81
I.T.Jones Collection, Com. 27th Apr.1981, Ref.K6-9

Transcript of letter thanking him for the visit and enclosing a copy of the composite text TD00657

I.T.Jones Collection (1981, S.Ashmore - d)

Mr. Sid Ashmore (Inf.)
Cuckney, Notts: Letter to Sid Ashmore 27/4/81
I.T.Jones Collection, Com. 27th Apr.1981, Ref.K6-10

Transcript of letter thanking him for the visit and enclosing a copy of the composite text TD00657.

I.T.Jones Collection (1981, M.Couldry)

Mr. Mick Couldry (Intermediary)
Farnsfield, Notts: Notes on phone call to Mick Couldry 25/3/81
I.T.Jones Collection, Col. 25th Mar.1981, Ref.K7-6

Notes on phone call to Mick Couldry, former member of the Owd 'Oss Mummers, asking him if he knew where the Farnsfield and Cuckney texts in the OOM repertoire had come from. He wasn't sure but thought that Cuckney came from Roy Harris and Farnsfield from the papers of the Thoroton Society.

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