Elkesley (SK6875), Nottinghamshire

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"

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