Jacksdale (SK4451), Nottinghamshire

G.Christian (1951a)

Garth Christian (Auth.)
Derbyshire Countryside, Jan./Mar.1951, Vol.18, No.5, p.92

The folk plays performed at Christmas by Mummers in the Erewash Valley are described. Extracts are quoted from Underwood, Notts., (last seen by the author in 1944), and Jacksdale, Notts. The villages around Ilkeston, Derbys., are also included in the discussion. The supposed pagan origins of the plays are mentioned.

M.W.Barley Collection (1953, G.Christian)

Garth Christian (Inf.)
[Christmas Guisers Play in Underwood, Notts.]
M.W.Barley Collection, Com. 25th Apr.1953, Ref.Ba P 1/35

Letter accompanying an Underwood text (M.W.Barley Collection, 1950, G.Christian). It includes text fragments for Beelzebub and Slasher from a Christmas Guisers play from Underwood, Notts., as performed in the 1940s and 1951. St. George, Doctor and Oliver Cromwell are also mentioned. Jacksdale Guisers also visited the village. He cites a "Derbyshire Advertiser" report of the Uttoxeter Mummers in 1952.

G.Christian (1954)

*Garth Christian (Auth.)
*On the Eve of Christmas
*Nottingham Journal, c.1954

Article describing Christmas Eve Guisers' plays from Underwood and Jacksdale, Notts. It includes fragments of text and mentions a radio broadcast of the play from Underwood on 13th Jan.1954. Characters mentioned are; [Introducer], St. George, Bold Slasher, and Doctor.

A manuscript copy of this article in P.T.Millington Collection (1973, H.Hyde) is headed "Quoted from the 'Nottingham Journal' between 20 & 30 years ago". However, the covering letter talks of the "Nottingham Guardian Journal".

A.Cockburn Collection (1972, M.Couldry)

*Anne Cockburn (Col.); *Michael Couldry (Col.)
*[Guysers Play from Brinsley, Notts.]
*A.Cockburn Collection, 1972

*Tape recording and correspondence concerning a Guysers' play from Brinsley, Notts., performed about New Year. The characters were; St. George, Slasher, Doctor, Beelzebub and Devil Doubt.

Guysers at Jacksdale, Notts., c.1928 are also mentioned.

R.W.Storer (1975)

R. W. Storer (Auth.)
Victorian Selston [includes Bull Guysing fragment]
Selston: Worker's Education Association, 1975, p.54

This is a general local history of the Parish of Selston, Notts., which includes Bagthorpe, Underwood and Jacksdale. The following appears on page 54;

"Older children and adults took the mumming plays or 'Bull Guysing' to the public houses and for a few of the better-off houses. These plays had their origin in Mediaeval Times and the acting or spoken word portrayed either the Christian Festivals, the New Year, the Saints, etc. Some older readers may well remember the cheery character of the blackened face of Bel-zebub and his final lines at the Christmas play:-

In comes owd Bel-zebub,
On me back a' carry me club,
In me 'and a dripping pan,
Don't yo'u think I'm a jolly old man,
If yo'u don't, I do.
Plum puddings hot, Plum puddings cow'd,
Plum puddings in the pot nine days owd,
If you think I'm a fool and got no sense,
put yo'ur hand in yo'ur pocket and gimme a few pence.

These plays have survived in certain parts of the country and in particular in the Erewash valley until recent times."

I.G.Russell Collection (1977, K.Flint)

Keith Flint (Perf.)
APPENDIX 1: Keith Flint, Jacksdale, Notts. (29 Dec. 77)
I.G.Russell Collection, Rec. 29th Dec.1977

Full Text (69 lines) of a play from Jacksdale, Notts. The characters are; Enter In, Bullguys, St. George, Dr. Brown, and Betsy Bellseybub.

I.Russell (1981a)

Ian Russell (Auth.)
'Appy New Year
English Dance & Song, Christmas 1981, Vol.43, No.4, p.16

Three photographs of folk play teams. The accompanying text reads:-

"In Unstone the lads who do the Derby Tup have this past two seasons come up with an idea that reflects the economic climate and would appeal to the present government. The Tup has become inanimate - a sheepskin-covered stool with detachable head joined by Velcro. This reduction in manning has lead to increased productivity and profitability - the collection is now split three ways instead of four!"

"The Jacksdale Bullguisers are traditional mummers from the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire border. The remarkable story of how they updated their hero-combat play to include the Brut King (with no apologies to Faberge) and Kung Fluey is told in The Journal of American Folklore due out in October 1981."

The photograph captions read:-

"The Unstone Tup, 31st December 1980 (photograph by Ian Russell)"

"The Jacksdale Bullguisers performing the play of Brut King, 29th December 1977 (photograph by Ian Russell)"

"The Jacksdale Bullguisers performing the Bullguys Play, 22nd December 1978 (photograph by Ian Russell)"

I.Russell (1981b)

Ian Russell (Auth.)
In Comes I, Brut King: Tradition and Modernity in the Drama of the Jacksdale Bullguisers
Journal of American Folklore, Oct.1981, Vol.94, No.374, pp.456-485

Detailed description of how the Flint family of Jacksdale, Notts., updated their Christmas Bullguisers play to include allusions to television programmes and adverts. Three play texts are given. One of 66 lines was originally performed in 1946 at Selston, and the next year in Swanwick, Derbys. This had the characters; Enter In, Bullguys, St. George, Dr. Brown and Betsy Bellsybub. It was later revived in Jacksdale in 1978 with the same characters, but with only 58 lines of text, some of which are not present in the "original". The modernised Jacksdale play (51 lines) was performed from 1975 to 1977, and had the characters; Enter In, Referee, Brut King, Kung Fluey and Slack Alice. The plot was based round a boxing match, with Slack Alice taking the place of the Doctor. Extensive itineraries are given, as well cast lists for the 1975 to 1978 performances.

P.T.Millington (1991a)

Peter Millington (Auth.)
IN YOUR VIEW: DO GUYSERS STILL EXIST? [in the area around Eastwood, Notts.]
Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser, 18th Jan.1991, Vol.94, No.5052, p.9 c-d

Article reads;


Twenty year ago, I wrote an article for the Advertiser with the above title, and asking your readers about the local custom of Guysing or Bullguysing.

These short rhymed plays, with St. George, Beelzebub, the Doctor, and a host of other possible characters, were traditionally performed around Christmas time by children going from house to house.

My worry at the time was that custom was dying out.

The response from your readers was very rewarding, and several people sent vivid details of their own performances in the 1930s and 1940s. Fortunately Guysing had not died.

I was able to record Bullguysers in Brinsley in 1971 and 1972, and the Eastwood Community Association performed the play to raise funds for Eastwood Festival in the mid 1970s.

However, the last performances I have heard of were recorded about 1980 by Dr.Ian Russell of Sheffield University in Jacksdale and Selston.

Do Guysers still exist?

I would dearly like to know if any of your readers saw or performed a Guysers' play this year, and if so where. Of course, I would still be interested in any other information people can give me on their Guysing experiences, and I will pass this on to local libraries for posterity.

I feel that it would be a pity to see this centuries-old custom disappear. I would like to think that information from your readers will not only keep a record for future generations, but perhaps inspire continued performances into the Twenty First Century.

232 College Street,
Long Eaton,
Nottingham, NG10 4GW"

The heading on my original letter to the editor was headed "Out Goes I St. George?"

P.T.Millington Collection (1991, G.S.Bennieston)

Mr. G. S. Bennieston (Perf.)
P.T.Millington Collection, Col. Feb.1991

Information about a Guysers play performed in Underwood, Notts., between 1953 and 1958 or 1959. The characters were; Opener, Little Devil Doubt, Saint George, Doctor Brown and Beelzebub. The fight was between Little Devil Doubt and Saint George, and Saint George lost. There were three teams operating in Underwood at the time. The itinerary (on foot) covered Underwood, Annesley, Moorgreen, Newthorpe, Kimberley, Eastwood, Jacksdale and Selston. They performed Christmas Eve, Christmas Night and Boxing Night. They had a standing engagement on Christmas Night at Felley Priory.

P.Millington (1991b)

Peter Millington (Auth.)
Do Guysers still exist? [West Notts., plays]
Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser, 20th Dec.1991, Vol.94, No.5099, p.14 a-b

Description of accounts communicated following an appeal for information on Christmas Guysers earlier in 1991. There is a description of the play performed by Mr. Tom Thorpe in Bagthorpe in the 1930s. This had the characters; Opener In, St. George, Slasher, Doctor, Belzibub and Devildowt. Belzibub's speech is quoted. In the 1950s, Mr.G.S.Bennieston performed in a team in Underwood. They also went to Annesley, Moorgreen, Newthorpe, Kimberley, Eastwood, Jacksdale, Selston and Felley Priory. There is a long description of Mrs. Barbara Faulconbridge's experiences with Bullguysers in Selston, in which she also mentions one of her sons seeing Guysers performing in Awsworth in 1990. The Selston teams eventually took to going to Somercotes, Derbys. Finally, there is a mention of the annual Guysing performed by the Ripley Morris Men in Ripley, Derbys. Syd Barber collected their play from Mr. Percy Cook of Ripley.

P.Millington (1991c)

Peter Millington (Auth.)
*Do Guysers still exist? [West Notts., plays]
*Ripley & Heanor News, 21st Dec.1991, Vol.102

Syndicated article - see P.Millington (1991b).

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