[Not located], South Wales
M. H. Mason (Auth.)
NURSERY RHYMES AND Country Songs: BOTH TUNES AND WORDS FROM TRADITION [The Old Horse: Christmas Play from Notts.]
London: Metzler & Co., 1877, pp.49-50
This includes a song headed "The Old Horse: CHRISTMAS PLAY". There are two
songs with tunes, one headed "Prologue" (12 lines in 3 stanzas), and the headed
"Enter the Old Horse" (20 lines in 4 verses). A footnote reads:-
"It is an old Christmas custom in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire to go from house to house with the skull of a horse, painted
black and red, and supported on a wooden fore-leg. A man in a stooping posture, and covered with a cloth, represents the
body of the horse, and, from the inside, snaps its formidable jaws at the company. The custom also survives in South Wales,
but the tune is different. There are many variations in the words. This is a Nottinghamshire version."
Marianne Mason lived at Morton Hall near Ranby, Notts., from 1869. As she collected
the songs in this book from her family and the people around her, it seems
likely that this play came from the vicinity of Morton Hall.
M. H. Mason (Auth.)
NURSERY RHYMES AND Country Songs: BOTH TUNES AND WORDS FROM TRADITION [2nd ed. - The Old Horse: Christmas Play from Notts.]
London: Metzler & Co., 1908, pp.49-50
2nd edition of M.H.Mason (1877), which includes a dramatised song headed "The Old Horse: CHRISTMAS PLAY". The
footnote is extended as follows:-
prints, he says, for the first time, a version of these words, without the prologue, in his 'Songs of the Peasantry.' He thinks
the 'Old Horse' to be of Scandinavian origin, a reminiscence of Odin's Sleipnor. The horse's head is, or was, however, used in
Ireland in connection with customs most probably Phenician. It is placed at the end of a double row of bonfires, between which
the people run up to it."
The reference is to James Henry Dixon, "Ancient poems ballads and songs of the peasantry of England", London: Percy Society, 1846
Mason is likely to have collected this play from the vicinity of Morton Hall near Ranby, Notts., where she lived from 1869.