2005 Scrapbook
Wassailing at the The Bull, Stanford Dingley
16th January 2005

This was our seventh wassail, and the weather somehow omitted to provide the usual blizzard, hurricane or monsoon. We chose the excellent Bull at Stanford Dingley for the event. Rob the Landlord (an inappropriate name for a landlord!) was an excellent host for the day, and the pub's staff coped very well with the onslaught.

We were joined by Hook Eagles, Kintbury and Rockhopper Morris, plus Hummers Mummers, Ridgeway Step-Clog and many other singers, musicans and notables.

We collected 160 for the Tsunami Appeal Fund.

OBJ members in attendance were Abi, Anne, Colin, Chris, Dave K, Diane, Doug, Gill, Ian, Jenny, Jill, Kelly, Mike G, Mike S, Nikki, Pam, Susie and Vera.

You can find some video here

Click the pictures to enlarge them

Our guests: Hook Eagles, Kintbury Morris and Rockhopper Morris performing at the start of the Wassail. Although the road surface was a little damp, the weather was very pleasing.
OBJ performing a brand new dance - The Hitchhikers Guide to Bracknell. Only one mistake throughout the dance - and that was by me!

The near side of the set contained Mike G, Susie?, Jill and Dave. The far side contained Abi, Jenny, Chris and Colin

Below left: Preparing for a Worcester Monkey. Nearest are Jenny and Diane.

Below right: Gill, Anne, Ian, Doug, Mike S, Nikki, Kelly and Vera

The wassail "ceremony" commenced with a brief introduction from Colin, followed by a bit of singing

Below left: part of the assembled multitude

Below right: Colin exhorting the audience to conduct themselves with due reverence.

The wassail cake had been baked by Pam, and was distributed to those present, accompanied by a suitable ditty.

With no hint of a fix, it was Rob who had the bean it his bit, and he was duly proclaimed to be "King of the Bean". He selected Queen Nikki to support him in his royal role.

Right: the cake - well, some of it, and Chris's hands

Below left: King Rob the First displays the bean while I check the order of service.

Below right: Queen Nikki grants her subjects a regal smile while King Rob looks nobly on.

Jenny had procured this years "wren" - which turned out to be a twin of last years wren.

Right: Chris displays the flock of wrens, which await their fate

Below left: Queen Nikki buries the wren in the roots of the apple tree. Prince Rob (the landlord) is just visible behind the tree.

Below right: toast was placed in the branches and beer poured over the tree.

Evil spirits are driven away from the tree by loud noises.

The chap who was going to provide a real shotgun was otherwise engaged, so a degree of improvisation was called for.

Below left: King Rob takes aim while the rest of us prepare to shout "Bang!"

Below right: Jenny, Abi and Doug join in singing one of the traditional wassail songs

Following the wassail ceremony, we were treated to a mummers play by Hummers Mummers.

Below left: Mary (HuMP) vanquishes the Turkish Knight played by Jerry - complete with welsh accent.

Below right: Members of the cast leading the singing at the end of the play.

Once the wassail ceremony and the mummers play were completed, we adjourned to the pub for a music session and a bit of indoor dancing, helped along by Ridgeway Step-Clog.

Here are a few assorted pictures from the day.

The Bull is probably the only fruit-tree-less pub in Berkshire.

Diane kindly loaned one of her patio apple trees in order that it might benefit from being wassailed.

Colin and Dave install the tree prior to the wassail.

The tree is reported to be "as well as can be expected".

The OBJ musicians bring their fingers to the peak of performance by carefully prepared warm-up exercises.

Nikki supervises.

Blacking-up is a highly individual procedure.

Some start with the schnozz and spread outwards. Others start at the top or the side of the face.

Here, Vera demonstrates the "target method" on Mike G's face.

The usual social dances were performed inside the pub.

Squirrels were hunted, Rosa was waltzed, and Nottingham was swung.

It's thirsty work, this wassailing.
The unlimited supply of cake proved to be too much of a temptation for Dave K.

He did succeed in getting another bit in.

A postscript.

Proving that the wassail had it's desired effect, here is Dianes apple tree a few weeks later.

A post-postscript.

Proof postive that wassailling works.

Diane's apple tree 6 months later

Click the pictures to enlarge them