Norwell (SK7761), Nottinghamshire

J.B.Firth (1916)

J. B. Firth (Auth.)
Highways and Byways IN Nottinghamshire
London: Macmillan & Co., Limited., 1924, pp.384-385

A long extract from the White Book (Liber Albus) of Southwell details the agricultural labour services due to the Lord of Norwell, Notts., in the reign of Henry IV (1367–1413). During the feast that the tennants received in return, they diverted themselves with plays. Firth goes on to say;

"The details of the gorgeous feast in the Prebendal House, followed by the diversion of plays, are full of interest, and it is worth noting that the custom of mumming at Christmas is still kept up in the district, or was until a very few years ago."

J.B.Firth (1924)

J. B. Firth (Auth.)
Highways and Byways IN Nottinghamshire [Pocket ed.]
London: Macmillan & Co., Limited., 1924, pp.384-385

Reprint of J.B.Firth (1916). The relevant passage relating to Norwell, Notts., reads;

" is worth noting that the custom of mumming at Christmas is still kept up in the district, or was until a very few years ago."

Nottingham Journal (1941a)

[Anon.] (Auth.)
Tom Fool and Beelzebub: PLOUGH MONDAY PLAYS IN NOTTS.?
Nottingham Journal, 10th Jan.1941, No.35888, p.3c

General article describing plough plays in Nottinghamshire, including the following paragraphs:

"The Notts. villages where the text of such plays is still preserved are Scarrington, Farnsfield, Bothamsall, Lowdham, Cropwell Bishop, Blidworth, Norwell and Thorney."

"The last performance of a play recalled by Mr. E.E.Neale, of the Notts. Rural Community Council, was at Cropwell Bishop in 1938."

The words of the final song at Blidworth are quoted.

"J.Granby" (1949a)

"John Granby" (Auth.)
*Local Notes and Queries: Winter customs
Nottinghamshire Guardian, 17th Dec.1949, No.5457, p.10 a

Mentions Going a gooding on St. Thomas's Day, lingering up to 1936 in Caunton, Notts., and a birth custom, [evidently a reference to D.H.Brooksbank (1936)]. Also mentions guysers and mummers in Weston-on-Trent and Norwell at Christmas Eve up to the Second World War.

M.W.Barley Collection (1950a)

Anon. (Inf.)
Notts.: Norwell [Plough Play]
M.W.Barley Collection, Col. 1950

"Text of Plough Play cannot now be recovered (1950). Last performed about 1905 - similar to the other Notts. plays."

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).

W.E.D. (1958)

W. E. D. (Auth.)
Local traditions and the story of Christmas
*Nottinghamshire Guardian, 27th Dec.1958

Article quotes W.Howitt (1838) and other Christmas customs.

"Yet, by survival or revival, guising (mumming) is popular around Norwell and at Weston-on-Trent today, or was until a few years ago; the Plough Monday play has been resuscitated at Tollerton and other villages..."

"J.Granby" (1960b)

"John Granby" (Auth.)
LOCAL NOTES AND QUERIES: Old Christmas customs still survive in Notts.
*Nottingham Guardian Journal, 24th Dec.1960

Article on Christmas customs extant in Nottinghamshire.

"...until recently musicians and *'guisers' in fantastic attire were to be heard and seen at Weston-on-Trent as the mummers were in the Norwell district on Christmas Eve."

"*'GUYSER' – Here we see the use of the word 'Guiser.' It was used by W.H.Lawrence [sic] in the story he wrote around this custom of dressing up and which appeared in the Weekly Guardian of 1907 under the name of Jessie Chambers of Haggs Farm. It was Lawrence's first published work – and the story submitted in his own name was returned. He used this ruse to submit more than one entry because the conditions of the competition stipulated one only. The story was reprinted in the Christmas Weekly of December 1949. 'Guyser' is the form used by Lawrence."


Plough Monday falls on the Monday after Twelfth Night and although villagers no longer perambulate with a plough in quest of pence for the maintenance of the 'ploughman's light' in their parish church the custom has been revived in modernised form in which the old folk-drama has been retained.

About half-a-century ago Mrs. L. Chaworth-Musters reintroduced it at Wiverton, Caunton copied it; in 1935 the Boy Scouts performed the traditional play at East Markham and in 1939 it was resuscitated at Tollerton. The plough is represented by pieces of shaped paper, the actors are lavishly tricked out with beribboned fancy costumes, 'Bessie' is still a boy in feminine guise; the quack doctor restores the slain man to life, and wooden swords and humorous buffonery prevailed as of yore."

'W.H.Lawrence' is evidently a misprint for D.H.Lawrence.

I.T.Jones (1981b)

I. T. Jones (Auth.)
The Owd Oss Mummers: PLOUGH MONDAY
The Bramley, Apr.1981, No.68, p.6e-f

Follow up letter regarding an appeal for information on Plough Monday in the Jan.1981 issue (I.T.Jones, 1981a). Mr. Steemson provided words of a play performed in Oxton until the 1890s. Mr. Ralph Brooke had the scrap book compiled by Miss L.F.Milner containing the play performed in Kirklington up to the First War. Mrs. Olifent and Mr. Robinson provided the play performed between the wars in Farnsfield, and recently revived at annual Plough Monday suppers. Mr. Jack Smith (via his daughter Mrs. Marshall) gave details of the Plough Bullocking play that he and others had revived in 1980 in Blidworth. This had been performed right up to the Second World War. Mr. Ernest Parkin remembered his father's Plough Bullocking in Edingley about 1891. Further locations mentioned where Plough Monday had been celebrated, but for not detailed information was available were Averham, Kneesall, Norwell and Southwell. The author had also obtained a copy of a Caunton text performed until about 1945.

I.T.Jones Collection (1981, Bernard Hill)

Rev. Bernard Hill (Intermediary)
Oxton, Notts: Notes on phone call to Rev Bernard Hill, Thurgarton 4/2/81
I.T.Jones Collection, Col. 4th Feb.1981, Ref.K4-7

Notes on phone call to Rev. Bernard Hill, The Vicarage, Thurgarton. He read out bits of text of the Oxton play that Mr Steemson had given him, which were esentially the same as in TD00635. Characters were The Man in Charge, Tom Fool, Eezum Squeezum, Farmer's Man, Doctor. He remembered Plough Monday being celebrated in Norwell in the early to mid 1920's when men went round and collected money to spend in the pub.

Trader Pictorial [Newark] (2004)

[Anon.] (Auth.)
Reviving ancient tradition
Trader Pictorial [Newark], 7th Jan.2004, No.1189, p.2a-6

Large colour photo of the Muskham Pinkies, who had revived the plough boys' play from North Muskham, Notts., also performing at Norwell and Bathley. The original play had ceased at the start of second world war. The caption lists cast members Simon Simcox, Paul Cotter, David Haslam, Ian Harrison and Jeff Hannabuss. The accompanying article mentions the incident of 1597 when the plough boys ran a furrow across the churchyard.

Performances by the Calverton Real Ale and Plough Play Preservation Society are also listed for Calverton, Farnsfield, Epperstone, Lambley, Lowdham, Hoveringham, and Woodborough.

Newark Advertiser (2004a)

[Anon.] (Auth.)
REVIEWS: Plough play revived [North Muskham, Notts.]
Newark Advertiser, 9th Jan.2004, Vol.155, No.7931, p.Arts.10d-f

Article and two colour photos of the revival by the Muskham Pinkies of the ploughboys' play from North Muskham, Notts, also performed at Norwell and Bathley. The original tradition stopped at the start of the second world war. The captions list the following cast members: David Haslam, Dan Harrison, Simon Simcox, Paul Cotter, Keith Baines, Paul Lane, and Jeff Hannabus.

Performances by the Calverton Real Ale and Plough Play Preservation Society are listed for Farnsfield, Epperstone, Lambley, Lowdham, Hoveringham, Woodborough, and Calverton. Morris dancers performing after a Plough Sunday service at Morton, Notts., are also mentioned.

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