Wassailing has got to be one of the wackiest evenings I have spent in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell for a while (and that is saying something as Brightwell has history on the wacky front). The purpose of Wassailing is to awaken the apple trees and to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the autumn.
We all met at the War Memorial, that was the Armaleggan Border Morris Group, Myron on guitar, Martin on accordion, Doug Miles with his shotgun, Robert Field finely attired for the occasion as Master of Ceremonies, and around 170 assorted villagers, including around 50 children, with our equipment to make noise that we had been instructed to bring – i.e. pots, pan lids, whistles, rattles etc. After a prayer from Janice we followed the musicians to the first Orchard – Pauline Emerson’s. Once there, a poem was read, a song was sung, children attached toast dipped in cider to an apple tree to attract robins, the good spirits of the orchard, and we all made as much noise as we could with our various ‘instruments.’ Then Doug fired his shotgun twice to drive away the evil spirits of the orchard, and we whacked the apple tree with sticks (I can’t remember what the purpose of this was but it was fun!). As we left the Orchard the Border Morris dancers treated us to a dance.
On to the second Orchard in David Ebbs’ garden, where we did it all again, then over to Nick Spence’s Orchard for a repeat performance. At this point we met a group of people out for an evening walk who were intrigued to know what was going on – we told them and they joined our merry throng. Stopping at Delia and Bob’s for more dancing, we all joined in a dance here which was great as it was starting to get dark and a bit chilly so that warmed us up a bit. Our final Orchard was Rhod Baker’s where we wakened up a few more apple trees and then back to the pub for a glass of Lambswool, which is warm cider with baked apples in it. By now it was fully dark and the Morris dancers has swapped sticks for flaming torches which made the dancing that bit more exciting.
There should be a bumper crop of apples in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell this autumn. Such fun and thanks to Alison Bloomfield, Jason Debney, Robert Field and Doug Miles for organising our first Wassail. I do hope it’s not the last. NB there was talk of starting up a Brightwell Morris group but that could have been people getting caught up in the moment – or is it?
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