6 ISSUES FOR £6 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, 08:13

The Cotswolds is a county of beauty: with mesmerising views of the scenery, beautiful landmarks to discover and rolling green countryside to explore, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a walk. We pick 8 walks for you to try and have found the nearby pubs to prepare for your ramble or reward yourself when you finish!

Read more
Wed, 16:45

Call yourself a true Cotswoldian? We’d love to put you to the test! Take our quiz to find out how well you really know the Cotswolds

Read more
Tue, 10:14

They say Cirencester is the capital of the Cotswolds but the quintessential villages that adorn the northern half of the region are equally as beautiful. In no particular order, we pick 10 of the prettiest north Cotswold villages you need to explore

Read more
Mon, 11:41

Forget the bad press, says Tracy Spiers, visitors are flooding back to the beautiful riverside town of Tewkesbury

Read more
Mon, 11:37

We never tire of pretty pictures of the Cotswolds. Here are ten of the best shared on Instagram this week…

Read more
Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Improving Cirencester’s appeal as a classic market town has been 50 years in the planning and is at last coming to fruition, as Tracy Spiers explains

Read more
Tuesday, March 7, 2017

As the weather warms, blossom blooms from the trees and colourful flowers burst from the ground, we can’t wait to explore the Cotswold countryside. We pick 9 walks that will make you want to lace up your walking boots straightaway!

Read more
Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Head to Stroud Subscription Rooms on Saturday March 4 from 10am to see how you can get involved with the National Trust Cotswolds

Read more
Thursday, February 23, 2017

Get hare-ing! From March 25, the Cotswolds will be teeming with 80 five foot-hare sculptures for visitors to spot throughout the region

Read more
Monday, February 20, 2017

In our latest literary ramble, we explore the golden backlanes of this pretty Cotswold town

Read more
Monday, February 13, 2017

We pick seven special and unique ways to pop the question in one of the most romantic and beautiful places in England… The Cotswolds.

Read more
Monday, February 13, 2017

Snowdrops bring great joy in the early months of the year, signifying the warmer weather ahead. We pick 9 of the most magical places to explore these beautiful flowers

Read more
Monday, February 6, 2017

Walk in the footsteps of arguably the greatest English travel writer of the 20th century, Patrick Leigh Fermor, visiting his last home, his grave, and the magnificent Dumbleton Hall, where roaring fires, Sunday lunches and afternoon teas await to be indulged in

Read more
Monday, January 30, 2017

Stephen Roberts explores the surprising industrial heritage of Blockley, one of our prettiest villages

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory
A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad
Cotswold Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Cotswold's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search