HAMPSHIRE MUMMERS AND MUMMING PLAYS

During the 1970s/80s Steve Roud and I began gathering together all known information on Hampshire Mummers and Mumming Plays.

We also recorded eye-witnesses and participants. As a result of this research we almost doubled the existing information. We now have 95 references to play locations in Hampshire.

The photographs show the traditional costume, typically made from wallpaper streamers, although strips of cloth was used in some gangs

Andover Mummers 1950s
The Andover Mummers - 1950s
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The Andover Mummers' elaborate hats partially disguise the faces of the participants although other gangs' hats completely obscure their faces. A similar costume is shown in the photograph of The North Waltham gang.

North Waltham Mummers 1948
North Waltham Mummers - Hackwood Park 1948

We have eight locations that feature blackface disguise such as can be seen in the photograph of Crookham Mummers (below).

Crookham Mummers 1910
Crookham Mummers - c.1930

Steve Roud and I have been researching into traditional Mummers Plays since 1976, and we hope that the source list will help to avoid any duplication of effort by others interested in the subject and will also indicate areas for further research.

The list was originally based upon that given in English Ritual Drama (Cawte, et al., Folklore Society 1967) which is an essential starting point for any research into Mummers anywhere in the country, and although it has grown considerably should still not be regarded as anything but a preliminary sketch. A great deal of work remains to be done and no overall picture of the tradition in this county will be possible for some time to come. It should also be remembered that traditions are not respecters of administrative boundaries, and information from neighbouring counties is obviously vital for an understanding of the custom in Hampshire…

We have not attempted to include in the list all known references to Mumming in Hampshire. Many authors are content to copy (often inaccurately) from previously published works and, where they can be identified, derivative accounts are omitted. Other authorities simply state that a particular locality had a Play and give no further information (These references should always be viewed as tentative)…

Only traditional teams are listed (see English Ritual Drama pp.15-16 for a working definition), modern revivals having, in our experience, so little connection with the Traditional custom as to hardly justify the time spent tracking them down.

The Isle of Wight is not included as part of Hampshire, its traditions meriting a study of their own.
All the versions we have noted so far in Hampshire are of the HERO/COMBAT type (again see English Ritual Drama pp.37-8) and were performed primarily over the Christmas period.

We have included, where known, the names of participants. These we have taken from participants, eye-witnesses or articles. The names are not in any specific order i.e. date, appearance, gang etc. but have been included to show the lineage of family members of the gangs, often over many years. It could be the case that a gang might be identified, or at least, thought to be a ‘local’ gang by the cross checking of names.

THE ROUD/MARSH COLLECTION (published/unpublished texts, transcripts of interviews, photographs and audio tape) is still with the authors although a Source List, compiled in 1992, was deposited in Winchester Local Studies Library, Winchester.

The source list is currently being updated and will be available here as a downloadable PDF

Please e-mail: pm@forest-tracks.co.uk if you would like to know more about the Roud/Marsh collection.

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