Trying to fit five Mumming Tours in during the lead in to Christmas is always a bit difficult, and leads to one of the tours being performed, out of necessity, post Christmas. So, we visited the Vivian Arms, the Village Inn, Black Boy and the Railway in Sgetti, and Cila on the Thursday evening. There were quite a few people about, especially in the Vivs, which required precise, controlled fighting by King George and Valiant Knight. There was good banter in the Village Inn, and the lads in the Black Boy kept us on our toes. The Railway was holding a quiz so we had to wait a minute or two for that to finish which was not a problem.
Our Doctor for this tour was Jonathan Baker, one time member of Sweyn's Ey Morris, but now living in The Midlands. He delivered his part with a suitable degree of ad lib lines that had us chuckling, especially the bit about his travels being achieved by ‘rail replacement bus service’!
Siân provided a good supply of seasonal tunes on her fiddle after each performance, which enhanced things. Big thanks to all the landlords and ladies who allowed us to perform and to all who watched and contributed to our RNLI buckets
Here are some photos (mostly taken by Alison) of our last Tour of 2022 which was really good fun!
We performed the Crwmpyn John Play at pubs in the Swansea Valley on Thursday evening, collecting money for the RNLI, our nominated charity.
The Play has a long history, being performed by youngsters in Godregraig and Ynysmeudwy, from the early C20th until the 1960s. The Valley Folk Club revived it in the early 70s and Swyen's Ey Morris have been performing it annually since the 1980s.
We started in the Millers at Ynystawe, giving two performances to Steve the landlord’s customers. The Butchers at Alltwen was next on the tour where the play was well received. The Gwachel (Pontardawe Inn) was really packed, perhaps too much so for sword fights, but we persisted and managed to deliver the play, much to the delight of folk drinking there.
A quick drive up to the Chameleon in Ystradgynlais saw a welcoming crowd who enjoyed the play and our final performance was given in the Wern Fawr at Ystalyfera where there was a small group to watch us which included Jane who was our musician for many years. Our current musicians, Siân, Di and Keith performed festive carols and tunes at the end of each performance. Photos by Alison.
We visited the Gower Heritage Centre in Parkmill to kick off the second night of our Mummers Tour on Thursday evening. The GHC was holding a Christmas Fair. It was particularly cold (-7C on my drive back later on) and so our performance was brief with a highly animated sword fight between Valiant Knight and King George who were both trying to keep warm! A pink yoga mat materialised from somewhere, providing the perfect landing spot for the oft slain Valiant Knight. It was certainly better than lying on a freezing cold stone slab floor!
We returned to Bishopston for performances of the play at the Valley and The Joiners. The Valley was welcoming as ever with a reasonable crowd of people watching us and applauding us at the conclusion of the play. The Landlord showed great hospitality (ale) which went down well with the players!
Di Clark joined us at the Joiners, playing Beelzebub. There were some dogs in the audience, but fortunately they were extremely well behaved and did not join in the play by barking!
The play was appreciated by all watching, and one gentleman gave us some pretty amazing feedback, saying how much he enjoyed the performance of the play and also our Morris dancing which he had seen done during the summer months. That meant a lot to us! On a slightly sad note, some of us drank the Three Cliffs Gold ale, and toasted the memory of Rory Gowland, the brewer of Swansea Brewing Co; who sadly passed away a couple of weeks back. He was a sole trader so the brewery is no more!
We left the Joiners to the applause of all sat in there drinking, and that certainly went down well with us!
The final part of the tour was a visit to the bar of the King Arthur at Reynoldston. The bar was full of good natured people and it also has a lovely roaring fire which gives a great ambience. Some of the staff were watching us and also seemed to enjoy the play which was performed with gusto and very well received. Siân, Di and Keith Lascelles played Christmas tunes at the conclusion of the play whilst the players enjoyed some of the ales (Felinfoel Double Dragon is superb) served at this truly excellent pub.
It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!
Well that was a good evening. Lots of warmth of welcome on a freezing cold evening! We had to revise our planned Mumming Tour as some of the pubs were showing the World Cup Semi final, and we had missed that finer point when organising our tour.
We performed at The Park Inn where the play went down extremely well, with Alison Haworth taking the part of Mother Christmas and doing it very well. Di Clark not only arranged the music session at the Park but also played the part of Beelzebub.
Alex Dixon played the part of Valiant Soldier and looked resplendent in a newly made paper mache Norman Spangelhelm. King George was Paul Tarrant who lamented that he was not able to actually button up his red Guards tunic now, but was able to ten years back! And Keith Lascelles was Doctor and looks like he did 15 years back. Nigel Haworth played the part of the narrator. Music was provided by fiddle supremo Siân Musgrave and Di after the performance and we all enjoyed a beer and a natter with Yotin Wallace and Kate Alys who dropped in to watch us with a young dinosaur!
Here’s a few pics, mostly taken by Siân of the ensuing mayhem of the Mummers Play, or Christmas Sport as it was known on Gower. More available on our FB page.
Sweyn’s Ey Morris were invited to this wonderful event and despite regular musicians and a few dancers not being available to attend, we were still able to muster a strong team. It says something about the Ale when Jonathan Baker drove all the way down from up north to join us! It was certainly good to see him again.
The Ale followed the format of past years, pre COVID, with Carreg Las Border being there, plus a couple of White Hart Morris, as well as mine hosts Cardiff Morris who were there in reasonable force. A broadsheet of paper was put up for people to make suggestions for dances to be done. There was curry which was good, ale that was smashing, and the tombola which provided wonderful opportunity to win all manner of quirky things! There was also a veritable mountain of cheese to eat!
Other highlights were Ben singing a song that used to be sung by Andy Baker, Jonathan’s dad, therefore maintaining a tradition of Sweyns Ey Morris Squires singing at Cardiff Ale, and Jonathan dancing Old Molly Oxford Jig, and then there were Bledington dances like William & Nancy and Cuckoo’s Nest which used to be staples of the Sweyn’s Ey dance repertoire. Cardiff danced Nantgarw Y Caseg Eira and also Ty Coch Caerdydd which looked very good. Sweyn’s Ey performed Badby Beaux, Stanton Harcourt Nightingale, Bampton Speed the Plough and Fieldtown British Grenadiers as show dances.
Here are photos of the Ale, mainly taken by Paul, and Alison.
Most of our blog posts are written by Paul Tarrant (our archivist), with occasional contributions from other members of the side. Each post goes up first on our Facebook page, alongside a lot more photos than we put on the blog. Check out our Facebook page right here if you want to see more!