Tithby (SK6936), Nottinghamshire

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 Collection (1893, W.Parnham)

William Parnham (Perf.)
The jolly fellows that follow the plough [Plough Monday song from Tithby, Notts.]
T.F.Ordish Collection, 19th Jan.1893, Vol.IV, pp.183-184

*Five verses of a song sung after a Plough Monday play. It is annotated;

"William Parnham. Labourer at Tithby in the Vale of Belvoir. Sung Jan 19th 1893 (Plough Monday)"

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.

"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.

Newark Advertiser (1980a)

[Anon.] (Auth.)
*Plough Service at Tithby
*Newark Advertiser, 18th Jan. 1980

Photo captioned;

"Tithby's 13th Century parish church provides a backdrop for a 40-year old plough taken to it for a Plough Service on Sunday by Mr Clifford Earl of Cropwell Butler (left) in a dray drawn by Beauty. Mr Earl was helped by, left to right, Timothy Swan, Neil Stubbs, John Perkins, Mr Stanley Stubbs and Michael Perkins, who are pictured with the Rev Colin Perkins, Wiverton Group Minister, who blessed the plough."

I.T.Jones Collection (1981, E.A.Elkin & S.E.Widdowson - a)

Mrs. E. A. Elkin (Intermediary); Mrs. S. E. Widdowson (Inf.)
Tithby, Notts: Questionnaire from Mrs E.A.Elkin and Mrs S.E.Widdowson, 11/2/81
I.T.Jones Collection, Com. 11th Feb.1981, Ref.K13-1

Questionnaire received 11/2/81 from Mrs E.A.Elkin, secretary Hickling W.I. She reports that Mrs S.E.Widdowson, aged 76, remembers boys going out in Tithby around 1910 as plough boys on Plough Monday with coloured papers in their hats singing carols and wassailing.

I.T.Jones Collection (1981, E.A.Elkin & S.E. Widdowson – b)

Mrs. Elkin (Intermediary)
Tithby, Notts: Letter to Mrs Elkin 4/3/81
I.T.Jones Collection, Com. 4th Mar.1981, Ref.K13-2

Transcript of letter to Mrs Elkin, thanking her and Mrs Widdowson for their correspondence.

Nottinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes (1989)

Nottinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes (Comp.)
The Nottinghamshire Village Book: Compiled by the Nottinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes from notes and illustrations sent by Institutes in the County [Includes notes on Plough Monday, Bullguysers and other customs]
Newbury: Countryside Books, & Newark, NFWI, 1989, 1-85306-057-7, 191pp.

This book is compilation of short pieces on about 148 Notts., villages giving descriptions, histories and reminiscences. There are numerous mentions of customs, legends and ghosts. The following are of particular interest.

Caunton (p.41) quotes S.R.Hole's (1901) description of the Rang-Tang.

From Kirklington (pp.98-99) we have;

"Plough Monday was always kept on the second Monday in January when the farmworkers of the village went the rounds of the village and acted a play in every house where they were invited. They were given mince pies and ale or money. The exit lines of the play were:

'We are the country plough lads
That go from door to door
Good Master and Good Mistress
As you sit by your fire
Remember us good plough lads
That work through mud and mire
So bring us out a good pork pie
And a jug of your best beer
We wish you all good night
And another Happy Year'"

At Laxton (p.106) it states; "On the first Monday in January, Plough Monday, ancient Mummer plays were enacted, a tradition which has sadly disappeared."

A frontispiece signed D.A.Shaw (p.8) illustrates "Plough Sunday at Tithby", and the text says;

"Despite attuning to the needs of the present day, old customs and rites are not forgotten and are practised. One farmer breeds and works Suffolk Punches, another farmer maintains a herd of Highland cattle, and on Plough Sunday the plough is still brought into Holy Trinity Church to be blessed." (p.163)

There is a good description from Underwood with Bagthorpe (p.167);

"Mummer's plays were a feature of life in the area until the Second World War. Dressed in bizarre costumes and with blackened faces, local youths with a pretended show of force, would gatecrash Christmas gatherings in houses and pubs to re-enact the age-old story of the triumph of life over death in Nature, the origins of which go back beyond pre-Christian times. Over the centuries the performances had become pure knock-about farce. However, there existed an instinctive respect for their antiquity and no door was ever barred against the Bullguysers. Unfortunately, to safeguard the blackout in the war years, the police had to insist that the Mummers should play no more and another age-old custom was lost."

From Woodborough (pp.86-87), several speeches are quoted from a Plough Monday play, seeming to comprise a complete but brief text (18 lines). Characters mentioned are Easom Squeesom, Big Belly Ben, a Soldier and Doctor.

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

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