Wiverton Hall (SK7136), Nottinghamshire

Chaworth-Musters (1890)

Mrs. Chaworth-Musters (Auth.)
A CAVALIER STRONGHOLD: A Romance of the Vale of Belvoir
London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Ltd., 1890, pp.272-277,387-392

This book is a historical novel based on the Civil War period. Pages 272-277 introduce into the plot the performance of a Plough Monday play at Wyverton Hall, Notts. This is of dubious value, since the authoress had extrapolated back in time from plays she had seen performed there in the late nineteenth century.

Fortunately, she also added in appendix the full text (170 lines), and a description of costumes, for the play she had herself seen performed by "Plough Bullocks" from Cropwell. The characters comprise; Tom Fool/Bold Tom/Tom the Fool/Tommy, Recruiting Sergeant, Ribboner/Recruit, Lady Bright and Gay, Threshing Blade/Thrashing Blade, Hopper Joe/Sankey-Benny, Farmer's Man/Ploughman, Dame Jane, Beelzebub, and Doctor. The performance included a dance and songs.

Quotations are given from W.Hone (1825) p.72, and indirectly, Blomefield's "History of Norfolk".

This is key source for Notts. folk plays. It has been extensively cited by later authors, and extracts have been reprinted several times. It has also influenced the folk play tradition in Notts. A number of teams are known to have used the book as the source for their text.

Mrs.Chaworth-Musters was a correspondent with T.F.Ordish, probably the first English scholar to specialise on folk plays. It was for his benefit that she obtained the costume used for Hopper Joe, and which was donated to the Folk-lore Society. This contact probably explains the detailed nature of her record.

Curiously, this text was first published translated into French (H.G.M.Murray-Aynsley, 1889).

J.P.B. (1893)

J. P. B. (Auth.)
*LOCAL NOTES AND QUERIES: ENGLISH FOLK DRAMA [Plough Monday play from Wiverton Hall, Notts.]
*Nottinghamshire Guardian, 22nd Jul.1893

An extensive quotation from T.F.Ordish (1893), concerning the Plough Monday play performed at Wiverton Hall, Notts., communicated to Ordish by Mrs. Chaworth-Musters, and published by her in 1890. Characters mentioned are; Hopper Joe, Beelzebub, a sergeant, a young lady, an old woman and the doctor. There an extensive discussion the costumes, one of which had been acquired for the Folklore Society.

[The author is probably John Potter Briscoe.]

T.F.Ordish Collection (1893, H.Nowell)

H. Nowell (Inf.)
[Example cutout figure from a Cropwell Butler Plough Monday Costume]
T.F.Ordish Collection, 20th Jan.1893, Nottinghamshire, No.2,

Note written on a printed memorandum slip with the red paper silhouette of a horse (possibly damaged) attached stuck over the 'From' and To' panels. It reads:


Jan. 20th 1893

From H Nowell Cropwell Butler

To Mrs Musters Wiverton Hall

Dear Madam

The enclosen his the kind of horse which his used for plough Monday. They are sewen on an old white shirt - they are cut out - in all colours

Yours truly H Nowell"

T.F.Ordish (1893)

T. Fairman Ordish (Auth.)
Folk-Lore, Jun.1893, Vol.IV, No.II, pp.149-175

This is the second of two largely theoretical papers, which have been of great importance in the history of the study of folk drama. Not only did they prompt a great burst of collecting activity throughout the country, but also the ideas given in them continued to influence folklorists up to the 1970s. Ordish's arguments on the probable origins and significance of the plays tend to be vague and convoluted, and one suspects from odd phrases in the paper that not everyone agreed with him even in the 1890s. Certainly in the light of the mass of material which has since been accumulated, his hypotheses do not hold water today.

The paper was read before a meeting of the Folk-lore Society, and towards its end he introduced a number of exhibits which he had brought along.

The first of these, a Plough-Monday play, came from Mrs. Chaworth-Musters of "Wiverton Hall, near Bingham, Nottinghamshire". Her covering letter is reprinted in full. In it she describes costumes, and mentions the characters; Hopper Joe, sergeant, young lady, Beelzebub, old woman, and doctor. She mentions little boys house visiting on Plough-Monday throughout the Vale of Belvoir. She also sent an actual costume, and an autograph manuscript of a song accompanying the play. Extracts from the play, evidently transcribed from her book [Chaworth-Musters, 1890], were read out.

This account has been much cited and reprinted by later authors, who because of the phrasing used for the location, have sometimes described the play as coming from Bingham, Notts., rather than Cropwell or Wiverton Hall.

The other exhibits were photographs of the Horn-Dance from Abbots Bromley, Staffs., and donated by Mr. Frank Udale of Uttoxeter.

These exhibits are now in the T.F.Ordish Collection of the Folk-lore Society.

P.H.Ditchfield (1896)

P. H. Ditchfield (Auth.)
Old English Customs Extant at the Present Time: An Account of Local Observances, Festival Customs, and Ancient Ceremonies yet Surviving in Great Britain
London: George Redway, 1896, pp.47-50

*This is an oft quoted book. Pages 47-50 describes Plough Monday customs from Cambridgeshire, Great Gransden, Hunts., Lincs. (Plough-Bullocks), Yorks. (Plough-Stotts), Wyverton Hall, Notts., and London. The Wyverton Hall description comes from Chaworth-Musters (1890), and mentions the characters Hopper Joe, Sergeant, Beelzebub and an Old Woman. The book also includes a number of Mummers' plays from southern England.

Nottinghamshire Guardian (1897b)

[Anon.] (Auth.)
LOCAL NOTES AND QUERIES. No.807: OLD OBSERVANCES [Plough Monday Play at Wyverton Hall, Notts.]
*Nottinghamshire Guardian, 9th Apr.1897

Extracts from P.H.Ditchfield (1896) and other sources concerning various customs from Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. These include: hanging a Kissing Bunch at Christmas in Derbys., Wassailing in Notts., the Maypole at Wellow, Oak and Nettle Day in Notts., maidens' garlands in Derbyshire churches, and a long passage on Derbys' well dressing. The following is quoted from Ditchfield:

"'The Plough Monday play', one of the few remaining specimens of English folk drama, still survives. It resembles in some ways the Christmas and Easter play but has several distinguishing features. In the Plough Monday play there is no St. George and the principal feature is the sword dance. The play, as performed recently at Wyverton Hall, Nottinghamshire is printed in Mrs Musters's 'A Cavalier Stronghold'"

P.H.Ditchfield (1901)

P. H. Ditchfield (Auth.)
Old English Customs Extant at the Present Time: An Account of Local Observances, Festival Customs, and Ancient Ceremonies yet Surviving in Great Britain
London: Methuen & Co., 1901, pp.47-50

Reprint of P.H.Ditchfield (1896). Q.v. for abstract.

Nottinghamshire Weekly Express (1906d)

[Anon.] (Auth.)
*Nottinghamshire Weekly Express, 28th Dec.1906

Article on Christmas customs including the following sections:

"There used to be celebrated at Wiverton a notable mummers play, of which we are told that an attenuated version is still observed in the district. A detailed account of this Plough Monday performance will be given shortly, but the point to mention just now is that the full play was revived for the occasion in 1893."

"Christmas mumming - or 'mumping' as they term it - is still done in Lincolnshire; but whether as a survival or a revival we are unable to say - probably it has never become quite obsolete in that fine county."

Nottinghamshire Weekly Express (1907c)

[Anon.] (Auth.)
*Nottinghamshire Weekly Express, 13th Dec.1907

Article about various Christmas customs. At one stage it quotes from an article by Thomas Ratcliffe in Notes and Queries of December 22nd 1906. That article refers to a time 50 years previously when Morris Dances were performed, guisers acted "Th'Darby Tup or Ram" and Mummers performed a play of St George for a couple of weeks before and after Christmas.

The article also states "Of the Wiverton Plough-Monday play we have recently written, and need only now refer to it in passing. That custom too, is now enshrined among the memories of the past:"

Nottinghamshire Weekly Express (1907a)

[Anon.] (Auth.)
*Nottinghamshire Weekly Express, 4th Jan.1907

A rambling description of Plough Monday customs, from throughout the country, including Lincs., Yorks., Cambs., Derbys., and Great Gransden, Hunts. Mostly taken from P.H.Ditchfield (1896) and E.K.Chambers (1903), but also includes an anecdote relating to a village "not a hundred miles from Nottingham". Chaworth-Musters (1890) Wyverton Hall, Notts., play is cited "...as given last week". Her correspondence with T.F.Ordish, as reprinted by Dichfield, is extensively quoted.

Nottinghamshire Weekly Express (1907b)

[Anon.] (Auth.)
*Nottinghamshire Weekly Express, 11th Jan.1907

Extracts from Chaworth-Musters (1890) historical novel. It dramatises hypothetical Plough Monday activities at Wyverton Hall, Notts., during the Civil War by actors from Cropwell. Mrs. Chaworth-Musters' quotations from W.Hone (1837) are partially requoted.

Nottinghamshire Guardian (1909a)

[Anon.] (Auth.)
PLOUGH MONDAY [Wiverton Hall, Notts.]
*Nottinghamshire Guardian, 16th Jan.1909

Reprint of the letter from Mrs.Chaworth-Musters quoted by T.F.Ordish (1893) concerning Plough Monday plays at Wiverton Hall, ("near Bingham") Notts., and house visiting by boys in the Vale of Belvoir.

Nottinghamshire Weekly Express (1909)

[Anon.] (Auth.)
*Nottinghamshire Weekly Express, 1st Jan.1909

General discussion on New Year customs and mumming at Christmas time with no details of locations. The final paragraph refers to P.H.Ditchfield (1896), E.K.Chambers (1903) and Chaworth-Musters (1890).

Nottinghamshire Guardian (1918)

*[Anon.] (Auth.)
Local Notes and Queries: The Old-Time Ploughmen's Guild: Notts Mumming Play Revived.
*Nottinghamshire Guardian, 16th Feb.1918

Blurb taken from P.H.Ditchfield (1896) about ploughs being trailed round on Plough Monday to support plough lights, and plough up the doorsteps of those who did not contribute. Mentions Lincs., Plough-bullocks, Yorks., Plough-stots and the City of London's Plough Monday banquet. Re-quotes Ditchfield's quotation relating to Mrs. Chaworth-Musters' account of the play at Wyverton Hall, Notts.

E.B. (1932)

E. B. (Auth.)
*Nottinghamshire Guardian, 12th Mar.1932

*Description of plays and plough trailing from Wiverton Hall, Notts., Lincs., Leics., and Northants. Taken from T.F.Ordish (1893)

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.

Nottinghamshire Guardian (1945a)

*[Anon.] (Auth.)
*Local Notes and Queries: A Plough Monday Custom
*Nottinghamshire Guardian, 3rd Feb.1945

Gives quotations from Dr.J.C.Cox (1913) about Plough Monday, and mentioning plough trailing, Plough or Labourers' Lights, Plough Ales, malicious ploughing and the sword-dance. He also talks of a play having been performed at Wiverton Hall, Notts., in 1893, and of the text of the play recently revived at Tollerton, closely following that in Chaworth-Musters (1890).

Mentions that a plough was blessed in Chichester Cathedral that year, and that there was an annual ceremony of blessing the crops at Gringley, Notts.

"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"

"J.Granby" (1960a)

"John Granby" (Auth.)
*LOCAL NOTES AND QUERIES: Old customs still exist - but some have a "new look" [Plough Monday in Notts.]
*Nottinghamshire Guardian, 12th Mar.1960

Article on extant customs in Nottinghamshire.

"The Monday closest to that date (January 6) is Plough Monday, the day on which the plough was taken round a parish by youths and men, who probably never knew that the money collected from cottagers and others was originally for the maintenance of the farmers' light in church and pocketed it for themselves.

This lingered long into the Victorian era at Radford and Bulwell, but roughness crept in and it was generally abandoned, though the accompanying folk-drama and mumming seem never to have quite died out locally. Mrs. Chaworth-Musters's 'Cavalier Stronghold' gives full details of the play as performed at Wiverton 50 years ago; early in the present century it was flourishing at Caunton, and since then it has been revived at Tollerton and East Markham and perhaps elsewhere."

Other customs mentioned include ringing the pancake-bell on Shrove Tuesday, sports and games on hills on the same day, Mothering Sunday, simnel cakes, and clipping the church.

"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.

O.P.Scott (1960/61)

Oswald. P. Scott (Auth.)
Memories of a Villager: CROPWELL BUTLER [include Plough Monday]
Nottinghamshire Countryside, 1960/1961, Vol.21, No.4, pp.20-23

This article won second prize in the essay competition "Memories of a Villager" organised by the Notts. Local History Council

He recalls village life in the 1890s, and mentions the local customs of tinpanning, Plough Monday and Valentine's Day. Regarding Plough Monday he states; "...Plough Monday we lads spent a week going round the farms doing charades - Tom the Fool, the Soldier, the Lady Dame Jane, Beelzebub and the Doctor. I can still remember every word. The farmers supplied us with beef and ale, and after we had finished the village we spent a whole night at Wyverton Hall, four miles away and residence of the Chaworth Musters family, entertaining the ladies and gentlemen who had come down for the hunting season. More ale and cheese and seven shillings and sixpence each, which, in those days, were riches."

Nottinghamshire Local History Council Collection (1960, O.P.Scott)

Oswald Peter Scott (Perf.)
Competition: Memories of a Villager [Plough Monday at Cropwell Butler, Notts.]
Nottinghamshire Local History Council Collection, Written 23rd Mar.1960, Ref.DD/121/1/23, 4pp.

Runner up in an essay competition on old village life at Cropwell Butler, Notts. It is marked up for publication in 'Nottinghamshire Countryside' (O.P.Scott, 1960/61). It includes the following on page 1, referring to the 1890s.

"Local customs were many & varied. The custom of tinpanning an offender out of the village with his partner who had committed moral sin was still done when I was a boy. I recall two & lustily banged a kettle though I didn't then know what for. Plough Monday, we lads spent a week going round the farms doing charades. Tom the Fool, The Soldier, The Lady, Dame Jane, Beelzebub and the Doctor, I can still remember every word. The farmers supplied us with beef and ale and after we had finished we spent the whole night at Wyverton Hall, 4 miles away the residence of the Chaworth-Musters family, entertaining the Ladies and Gentlemen who had come down for the hunting season. More ale and cheese and 7/6 each which in those days were riches."

The essay also mentions Valentine's Day for the girls.

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.