Foresters Morris
and Sword Dancing Club
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The Foresters Plough Play



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


The Foresters Plough 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.

We have also helped with the recreation of the Flintham Boys' Plough Play.

For details of other traditional ceremonial plays, see Master Mummers website or the English Folk Play Research site which includes a list of all known play scripts.

See a copy of our handout as a PDF document.

You may wish to see photos scattered among among the Foresters photo archive which contains a thousand or so photographs!

The characters in the Foresters play and their usual actors are:

  • Tom Fool (Vic Martin)
  • Recruiting Sergeant (Barrie Whittamor)
  • Farmer's Man (Stewart Thompson)
  • Lady Bright and Gay (Ken Bramman)
  • Dame Jane (Frank Earp)
  • Beelzebub (William Pearse or Joe Earp)
  • Doctor (Dave Middleton or Eric Foxley).

Tom Fool

    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.
Recruiting Sergeant
    In comes I the Recruiting Sergeant
    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.
Tom Fool
    What you dance?
Recruiting Sergeant
    I can dance sing or say
Tom Fool
    If you shall dance sing or say,
    I will quickly walk away.
Farmer's Man
    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 Farmer's man
    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
    Woe there!
    Behold a lady bright and gay,
    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.
Recruiting Sergeant
    (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?
Farmer's Man
    I'm free and I'm willing.
Recruiting Sergeant
    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 enlisted
    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.
Tom Fool
    Do you have any love for me my pretty fair maid?
    Yes Tommy to my sorrow.
Tom Fool
    Then when shall be our wedding day?
    Why Tommy dear tomorrow.
Dame Jane
    In comes I, Old Dame Jane,
    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!
Tom Fool
    The child Jenny, its none of mine
Dame Jane
    Look at its eyes, its nose, its chin,
    It must be yours, just look at its grin.
Tom Fool
    What is it, a lad or a boy?
Dame Jane
    A boy.
Tom Fool
    Well, mine's all lads,
    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?
Dame Jane
    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.
Tom Fool
    Five Pounds for a doctor.
    Ten to stay away.
    Fifteen pounds and a BUPA card and I'll come in.
Tom Fool
    All right but hurry up
    In comes I, the doctor.
Tom Fool
    And how comes you to be a doctor?
    By my travels.
Tom Fool
    And what, pray are your travels?
    Italy, Whitely, France & Spain,
    Twice round Ruddington and back again.
Tom Fool
    And what can you cure, noble-handed doctor?
    Ipsy, Pipsy, Palsy, Gout,
    Pains within and pains without,
    Heal the sick and cure the lame,
    Raise dead men back to life again.
Tom Fool
    You'd best try your skills on this recumbent hag
    Lays bleeding on the ground.
    In my bag I have a bottle,
    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.
All Sing
    Good Masters and Good Mistresses,
    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.


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Updated Wednesday 01-May-2024 12:14
Website content copyright © Eric Foxley.

Eric manages web sites for
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