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The Tollerton Plough Play



Foresters Morris as part of the Chatsworth House Spectacular.
More here.


This play was collected by Marjorie Shepherd in January 1950 from Tollerton, Nottinghamshire. It is one of the plays from which the Foresters plough play was formed.

The characters in the Tollerton play are:

  • Tom Fool
  • Recruiting Sergeant
  • Farmer's Man
  • Lady
  • Dame Jane
  • Threshing Blade
  • Doctor

Tom Fool

    In comes I, bold Tom
    Good evening ladies, gentlemen all
    We have just come to taste your wine and beer
    We have come to make you merry
    Stoke up your fires, turn on your lights
    And see our gallant play tonight
    Some can dance and some can sing
    At your consent they shall come in
    Okum, Pokum, France and Spain
    In comes the Recruiting Sergeant on his name
Recruiting Sergeant
    In comes I the Recruiting Sergeant
    I have arrived here just now
    I have orders from the king
    Enlist all young men that follow horses, cart, waggon or plough
    Tinkers, tailors, peddlers, nailers
    All the more to my advance
    The more I hear the fiddle play
    the better I can dance
Tom Fool
    What, you dance?
Recruiting Sergeant
    Yes, I can either dance, sing or say
Tom Fool
    If you can either dance, sing or say
    I will quickly walk away.

[Short burst of music and dance.]

Farmer's man

    In comes I the farmer's man
    Don't you see my whip in hand
    As I go forth to plough the land and turn it upside down
    How straight I go from end to end
    And never make a baulk or bend
    And all my horses I attend
    As they go marching round the end
    Whoa, back Bob.
    Behold the lady bright and gay
    Good fortune and sweet charms
    How scornfully I have been thrown away
    Out of my true love's arms
    He says as I won't to him wed
    He'll let me understand
    He will list all for a soldier
    And go into some foreign land.
Recruiting Sergeant
    Come all you lads that have a mind for listening
    List and do not be afraid
    You shall have all kinds of liquors
    Likewise kiss this fair pretty maid. [To Farmer's Man]
    Are you willing to serve the King young man?
Farmer's Man
    Thanks kind Sergeant for your offer
    Time away does quickly pass
    The health and wealth does very well suit me
    But I'm in love with this buxom lass
Recruiting Sergeant
    This buxom lass she will not maintain you
    Her beauty it will fade away
    Like the first rose of summer the winter doth become
    Ten bright guineas shall be your bounty
    If along with me you'll go
    Your hat shall be neatly trimmed with ribbon
    You shall cut a gallant show.
    Are you free willing and able to serve your King?
Farmer's Man
    Yes, Sergeant
Recruiting Sergeant
    In you hand I place this shilling
    On your hat I place this ribbon
    You are a King's man.
    And since my love has left me, and entered volunteers
    I neither mean to sigh for him or yet to shed one tear
    I neither mean to sigh for him but just to let you know
    I will get another sweetheart and along with him I'll go.
Tom Fool
    Do you love me my pretty fair maid?
    Yes, to my sorrow
Tom Fool
    And when shall be our wedding day?
    Tommy dear, tomorrow
All 4
    And we'll shake hands and we'll make banns
    And we'll get wed tomorrow.
Dame Jane
    In comes I Dame Jane
    With a neck as long as any crane
    Bibble, babble, over the meadows
    A long time I have sought thee and now I have got thee
    Pray, Tommy, take thy child
Tom Fool
    Child, Jinny? It's not my child
    Look at it, it's not a bit like me
Dame Jane
    Look at its eyes, nose and chin
    It is as much like you as ever it can grin.
Tom Fool
    Who says so?
Dame Jane
    The overseer of the parish pump said I was to bring it
    To the biggest fool in the house
    and I think you are he.
Tom Fool
    Thank you, Jinny.
Threshing Blade
    In come I old threshing blade.
    As all you people know
    My old dad learnt me this trade
    Just sixty years ago
    I thrashed old Bony-part and all his crew
    And I will thrash you before I go
Recruiting Sergeant
    You won't.
Threshing Blade
    I will

[Recruiting Sergeant knocks Threshing Blade down.]

Tom Fool

    O, Murphy, Murphy, what hast thou done
    Thou hast killed and slain thy'n only son
    Thy'n only son, thy'n only heir
    Can'st thou not see him bleeding there?
    Five pounds for a doctor.
Recruiting Sergeant
    Ten pounds for him to stay away.
Tom Fool
    Fifteen for him to come
    If there is one to be found anywhere.
Recruiting Sergeant
    Well, there is.
Tom Fool
    Well, step in doctor.
    Whoa boys, whoa boys, take hold of my horse
    Mind it does not swallow you
    In comes I the doctor.
Tom Fool
    What, you the doctor?
    Yes, me the doctor.
Tom Fool
    How became you to be a doctor?
    By my travels.
Tom Fool
    Where did you travel?
    Italy, Ireland, Germany, France and Spain
    Thirteen times round the world and back again.
Tom Fool
    What, as far as that?
    Yes, and a great deal further than that.
    Also two-two miles yon side of York
    Where I cured an old woman called Mrs Cork
    She tumbled upstairs with a teapot
    Half full of cold boiling water.
    And grazed her shin just below the elbow
    And made her stocking top bleed
    Also to my old grandmother's cupboard
    Where I always used to get a piece of cake and pork pie,
    That's what makes me such a fine big man.
Tom Fool
    Fine big man you are.
    Yes, as big as two men in this room.
    My own size particularly when I get my hat off.
Tom Fool
    What great pains can you cure, doctor?
    Ipsy, pipsy, palsy, gout
    Pains within and pains without
    Draw a leg, set a tooth
    Physic cats, poison rats
    Almost bring a dead man to life again
    But I haven't done that yet.
Tom Fool
    You seem a clever old chap, doctor
    I wish you would try your skill on this young man.
    By your leave, sir, I will.
    Here pretty lady, take hold of this hat, stick and walking gloves
    While I feel this man's pulse.
Tom Fool
    Pulse man, the pulse doesn't lie there.
    Where Tommy, where would you feel?
Tom Fool
    You feel the bridge of the neck and the back of the nose of course
    That's the hardest and softest part about him.
    This man is not dead, he is in a trance,
    He has been trying a new experiment.
Tom Fool
    What is that doctor?
    He has been living on green raw boiled potatoes tops
    Nine days all but a fortnight
    Also swallowed his old Grandmother's donkey and cart
    And couldn't digest the wheels.
    Oh, I have a box of pills here.
Tom Fool
    By the way doctor, what pills do you carry?
    These pills are anti-bilious pills
    Take one at night and one in the morning
    And swallow the box at dinner time
    If the pills do not digest, the box will
    Oh, I have another box here
Tom Fool
    Stilts for shrimps, crutches for lame grasshoppers
    Spectacles for blind bumble-bees
    And many other things I cannot mention just now.
    Inside my inside trousers waistcoat pocket that I have left at home
    I have a bottle of whiff-whaff
    To teem down his old tiff-taff.
    If you can dance and I can sing
    Arise old chap and let's begin.
    Good masters and good mistress
    As you sit around your fire
    Remember us poor ploughboys
    Who plough through mud and mire
    The mire it is so very deep
    The water runs so clear
    Put your hands into your pockets that is all that we desire
    Put bread into our hoppers
    and beer into our cans
    Let's hope you will never forget
    The jolly old Farmer's Man.

[Collection, fool leaves.]

    Good masters and good mistress
    You see our fool has gone
    We make it our business to follow him along.
    We thank you for civility and what you gave us here
    We wish you all goodnight and another happy year


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Updated Wednesday 01-May-2024 12:14
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