3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Cotswold Life today click here

Stroud Wassail: Saturday, January 14, 2017

PUBLISHED: 14:58 13 January 2017

Stroud Wassail

Stroud Wassail

Sharon Kilyon Photography

The word ‘wassail’ comes from the Anglo¬Saxon greeting Wæs þu hæl (‘be in good health’), to which the correct response is of course Drinc hæl. As drinking toasts go, preferable to ‘cheers’, I think.

The good people of Stroud have revived the tradition of travelling door¬to¬door with a variety of ‘beasts’ led by the Lord of Misrule and accompanied by the Broad and, take it from me, it’s an obscene amount of fun.

To get in the spirit of the festivities, here’s a few pointers of what to expect from organiser Robin Burton…

Waes Hael, Robin!

Drinc Hael, Candia!

What can we expect from the day’s festivities?

Dancing, singing, plays, storytelling and spectacle. I think it is possibly the most fun you can have in January without leaving the country. We expect at least 200 performers to take part at various venues across the town

What’s the significance of the ‘beasts’?

The beasts represent the wassailers’ wishes for their audience. For example, in Gloucestershire many people were involved in cattle. So we have the Broad, a representation of an ox. We are wishing cattle farmers success.

Who is the Lord of Misrule, and how do you choose the Broad?

The Lord of Misrule is in charge of the proceedings throughout the day. He leads the wassailers to the door of the Subscription Rooms, and the door of the Museum in the Park, and reads a proclamation. “I do hearby give notice to the nobility, gentry and communality of Stroud… that… on this day… all bolts, bars and latches which lock up the heart be broken! The heart shall be proclaimed undisputed monarch and reign commence forthwith…” To be selected as the Broad you need to be a good dancer and capable of creating mayhem. His/her role is to charge into buildings and drive the occupants out to meet the wassailers.

What are the origins of wassailing?

Wassailing is very ancient. In fact it is probably the most truly traditional part of festivities around the Christmas period. In the depths of winter, there was very little work for the agricultural poor. One of the ways in which they could make ends meet was to visit their wealthier neighbours and perform songs and plays in return for food and drink. The word ‘wassail’ comes from the Anglo Saxon ‘Waes Hael’ meeting ‘be whole’ or ‘be healthy’ and is thought to be the origin of our modern habit of saying ‘to your health’ or ‘cheers’ when we take a drink.

Which version of the Wassail Song do you favour?

We have collected some 17 wassails from Gloucestershire. You can find them on the Gloucestershire Traditions website www.glostrad.com. Personally, I like the Shurdington Wassail because of the way that it bowls along, but mainly because it is from just down the road from where I live

What’s the tipple of choice in your own wassail cup?

Personally, I like good English beer, especially if it is made in the Cotswolds.

What mysteries can you reveal from the evening’s Revels in the Sub Rooms?

That would be telling. Suffice to say that you should come prepared to dance, to sing and to thoroughly enjoy yourself. And, if you can, come in disguise. Prizes might be involved!

Have you experienced wassailing anywhere else in the country? How do Stroud’s celebrations compare?

I took part in the Chepstow Wassail last year, acting as Butler for the English side. That was all about waking up the apple trees and cider. It was hugely enjoyable and I hope to visit again this year. Our celebration is more related to the much older tradition of door to door visiting. We have also added in mumming plays and the Mid Winter Revels at the Subscription Rooms to broaden the entertainment for our visitors.

stroudwassail.com

*************

MID-WINTER REVELS

Saturday, January 14, 7pm

The Revels is a masked ball based on the 12th night revels of medieval times, when the world is turned upside-down, and includes Ceilidh dancing, mummers, Morris, wassailers, storytelling, folk chill lounge and much more. Prizes for the best masked costume.

Tickets £10 adv; £12 door.

Stroud Subscription Rooms, tel: 01453 760900

*************

THE STROUD WASSAIL

Waysail, waysail

all over the town,

Our bread it is white and our

ale it is brown.

Our bowl it is made from

some mappelin tree

With my waysailing bowl,

I drink to thee.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & about

Yesterday, 15:25

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tue, 11:50

Enjoy a day in the sunshine at these wonderful Pick Your Own fruit farms in the Cotswolds...

Read more
Tue, 10:58

On a sunny day there’s nothing quite like making a splash at the pool. From community-run lidos to luxury outdoor pools, we pick 8 places in the Cotswolds to enjoy an al fresco dip

Read more
Tue, 10:42

Tracy Spiers visited this attractive place a year ago and returned to find it bustling and vibrant, with new independent shops to visit and familiar friendly faces ready to welcome both herself and her family

Read more
Tue, 10:41

This month Worcester Racecourse celebrates its 300th Anniversary. Stephen Roberts returns to his roots to find out more about the place known as ‘Pitchcroft’

Read more
Mon, 11:00

Cotswold villages are some of the most beautiful in Britain – think honey-coloured cottages, cosy pubs, tiny tearooms and narrow streets. We pick ten of the prettiest Cotswolds villages to explore.

Read more
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tracy Spiers enjoys screen-free time in Stratford, thanks to Jane’s Trivia Trail

Read more
Wednesday, August 1, 2018

On the eve of Moreton Show, we hear about farmer Sarah Righton ‘comfortably hectic’ life after overcoming breast cancer

Read more
Tuesday, July 31, 2018

School summer holidays are looming, and luckily there’s no shortage of boredom-busting activities on the doorstep connecting children to nature and the beautiful Cotswolds landscapes. Here are 14 fun, adventurous, creative ways to help keep everyone happy (and healthy) in the great outdoors

Read more
Monday, July 30, 2018

Ray Mears, JB Gill & Miranda Krestovnikoff to speak at BBC Countryfile Live this week

Read more
Friday, July 27, 2018

Take a leisurely stroll around the lovely leafy pathways of Sherborne Estate and Lodge Park

Read more
Monday, July 23, 2018

If captivating grade-listed buildings with landscaped gardens are your thing, you’ve come to the right place. We pick 10 of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring stately homes you simply need to visit this year

Read more
Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Perhaps one of the most famous locations in the Cotswolds, the quintessential cottages and pretty riverside location of Bibury are a must-visit on any trip to the region.

Read more
Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Quench your thirst for culture, countryside and a cool drink with this pleasant amble through sleepy backwaters that boast some of the greatest artists, writers and crafters of the twentieth century

Read more
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory
A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Cotswold's trusted business finder


Property Search