Foresters Morris as part of the Chatsworth House Spectacular.
Our play started
many years ago as an amalgam of local plough plays from Tollerton
(Nottinghamshire), Long Bennington and Staunton (Lincolnshire);
over the years of performance it has become well and truly our own.
Plough Plays are
the type of Mummers' play (we also perform
a Mummers Play) found in the East Midlands region of the UK. They
are distinguished from Mummers' plays both by the fact that they are
performed on Plough Monday (the first Monday after Twelfth Night), and
by the names of the characters in them. For more details and discussion,
see the article by Maurice Barley in the Journal of the
English Folk Dance & Song Society, Vol VII No 2, December 1953,
p 68, with addenda in Vol VII No 3, p 184 and Vol VII No 4, p 249.
For details of
other traditional ceremonial plays, see the English
Folk Play Research site which includes a list of all known play
See a copy of
our handout as a PDF document.
You may wish to
see some photographs of the 2003 play
or listen to a
recording of it. Other photos are scattered among the Foresters
photo archive which contains a thousand or so photographs!
in the Foresters play and their usual actors are:
- Tom Fool (Steve
Sergeant (Vic Martin)
- Farmer's Man
- Lady Bright
and Gay (Ken Bramman)
- Dame Jane (Frank
- Beelzebub (William
Pearse or Arthur Dexter)
- Doctor (Dave
Middleton or Eric Foxley).
In comes I, who's
never been here before,
There's six more like me at the door,
Some can dance and some can sing,
By your consent they'll all come in.
My head is big, my wit is small
But I plays Tom Fool the best of all.
Hokum, Pokum, France and Spain,
In comes the recruiting sergeant, at his name.
In comes I the
I've arrived here just now with orders from the King
To 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 music play
The better I can dance.
If you shall dance
sing or say,
I will quickly walk away.
In comes I what
farms the Land,
Look at the tool I've got in my hand.
I uses this to hoe out weeds,
In tatties, carrots, onions and swedes.
The work is hard, the hours are dire,
up to your welly tops in mud and mire.
I'd leave all this for a place by the sea.
Ruddington's not a place for a fella like me.
In comes I the
Don't you see the whip in my hand
As I go forth to plough the land
And turn it upside-down
Straight I goes from end to end
'Till I go gently round the bend
And to my horses I attend
Behold a lady bright
Good fortune and sweet charms.
How carelessly I've been thrown away
Out of my true love's arms.
He says that he won't wed with me
And I must understand,
He'll list all for a soldier
And go to some foreign land.
(sings) Come all
young men with a mind for enlisting,
List and do not be afraid,
You shall have all kinds of liquor,
Likewise kiss this pretty fair maid.
(says) Are you free willing and able young man?
I'm free and I'm
Then on your hat
I tie this ribbon
And in your hand I place this shilling.
You are now a King's man.
Stand to attention, left right, left right!
And now my love's
and joined the volunteers.
I mean no more to cry for him
Nor even shed a tear,
I mean no more to cry for him
But just to let him know,
I'll meet another sweetheart
And along with him I'll go.
Do you have any
love for me my pretty fair maid?
Then when shall
be our wedding day?
In comes I, Old
With a neck as long as any crane.
Dib dab, over the meadows
Long I've sought thee,
Now I've caught thee,
Tommy, take the child!
The child Jenny,
its none of mine
Look at its eyes,
its nose, its chin,
It must be yours, just look at its grin.
What is it, a lad
or a boy?
Well, mine's all
Take it and swear it to the village pump
You old ratbag.
In comes I Beelzebub,
On my shoulder I carries me club,
In my hand a dripping pan.
Don't you think I'm a jolly old man!
Is there any an old woman that can stand before me?
I can, my head
is made of iron,
My body lined with steel,
My hands and feet of knuckle bone.
No man can make me feel.
If your head is
made of iron,
Your body lined with steel,
And your hands and feet of knuckle bone,
I think I can make you feel. (Hits Dame Jane with club)
Oh Beelzy, Beelzy,
what have you done?
You've killed the old lady and lamed her son.
Five Pounds for
and a BUPA card and I'll come in.
And how comes you
to be a doctor?
And what, pray
are your travels?
France & Spain,
Twice round Ruddington and back again.
And what can you
cure, noble-handed doctor?
Ipsy, Pipsy, Palsy,
Pains within and pains without,
Heal the sick and cure the lame,
Raise dead men back to life again.
You'd best try
your skills on this recumbent hag
Lays bleeding on the ground.
In my bag I have
I'll pour it down the old girl's throttle.
She, she isn't dead, just in a trance.
Rise up Dame Jane and join the dance.
Good Masters and
As you sit by your fire.
Remember us poor plough boys
Who plough through mud and mire.
The mire it is so very thick,
Our boots are very thin,
We have a little pocket here,
Won't you put a penny in?
And now our play is ended,
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.