Way back in 2013 I discovered an event in London that had been going on for some years. It was October Plenty, a celebration of harvest time produced by The Lion's Part. I was immediately enthralled but little did I realise it would lead to twice annually trips to London to document the event.
Why twice annually? Because the Lion's Part also produce 12th Night, a celebration of traditional midwinter rituals.
Let me explain more. October Plenty had a bit of everything harvest related. It all starts with a procession to the Globe theatre on Bankside. An integral part of the procession is a huge Corn Queen effigy made from various Autumnal fruits, vegetables, and grains. Then there are the Goddesses, musicians, the Hobby Horse, mummers, morris dancers and of course The Berry man. On arrival at the Globe the onlookers are gathered together and ushered in to the theatre, there follows singing, Morris dancing, a short play and general merriment. After this the players lead a procession to Borough Market where apple day is being celebrated. At the market there is apple tasting, apple bobbing, conker fights, morris dancing, story telling, another play, and more music and merriment. Towards the end of the day the Corn Queen is stripped of her plenty, this is distributed to the crowd, with some parts of her being auctioned to raise money for The Lion's Part who put the event on for nothing. Finally the Berry man leads a procession to Crossbones Graveyard in Southwark where a short ceremony is held to honour the women buried there. Photos I've taken over the years at this event can be found in a collection at Flickr.
Twelfth Night is an annual celebration of the New Year held in the Bankside area of London, it mixes ancient Midwinter customs with contemporary festivity. Originally the Green Man (David Risley in the guise of the Holly Man) arrived at Bankside by boat accompanied by a piper (Richard York), but H&S regulations have put paid to that. He is still accompanied by his piper but now accompanied by With the backdrop of St Paul's this is a remarkable sight.
The Green Man then joins the rest of the players where they moved to the steps of the Globe for The Bankside Wassails, led by the London Beadle. To wassail (a very old tradition) is to drink to health and to friendship. After the Wassailing comes the Mummer's Play (Folk plays, again traditionally performed on 12th Night.) This is the St George Folk Combat Play which manages to be both traditional and topical.Throughout it all musicians play. After the Mummer's play cakes were distributed, hidden within two of these cakes are a bean and a pea. The finders of the bean and the pea are crowned King Bean and Queen Pea. After the "Coronation" the players and the audience wend their way to the George Inn in Southwark where there is further merriment with Molly Dancers, Story Telling and The Kissing Wishing Tree. Again all photos can be found in a collection at Flickr
Below are the most recent photos from these two events (if Flickr decides to show them that is) The Lion's Part put all this on for free, so if you are going to use these photos please bung them some moolah and bung me some credit.