Wassailing ritual takes place in Stamford

Stamford Community Orchard Project wassailing 2018. By Lee Hellwing.
Stamford Community Orchard Project wassailing 2018. By Lee Hellwing.
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Residents came together to take part in a noisy Medieval ritual which is carried out to encourage a good apple harvest.

The Apple Orchard Wassailing on Saturday saw around 120 people form a large circle around the largest tree in the orchard in Christ Church Close in Stamford and bang pots and pans to scare away evil spirits.

Stamford Community Orchard Project wassailing 2018. By Lee Hellwing.

Stamford Community Orchard Project wassailing 2018. By Lee Hellwing.

They also hung pieces of toast on the orchard trees for robins who according to the tradition represent the good spirits.

Adam Cade, chairman of organisers Stamford Community Orchard Group, said: “It was brilliant, it was probably the best one we have done.

“It is very nice having a drink and entertainment at this time of the year. It is a lively day, it was very successful.”

As part of the event French pipe group Salmanazar led a procession around Christ Church which is next to the orchard.

There was a Mummers Play [folk play] which saw characters engage in combat. Mix Woven voice music choir were also on hand to bellow out traditional songs, while Bourne Borderers morris dance group who had blackened faces also performed.

Two braziers [containers containing coals] were lit and cider was poured at the roots of trees to encourage a good harvest.

The Stamford Community Orchard Group has been organising the ritual for four years and holds it on the first Saturday in January.

Those present enjoyed wassail, a hot mulled punch associated with Yuletide which they drank from a ‘wassailing bowl’.

In Old English the word wassail means ‘be healthy’.

There are around 300 groups around the country which take part in the ritual each year.

Stamford Community Orchard Group was inspired to organise the ritual due to the long history of apple harvesting in the area.

One famous orchard project in Stamford, Brown’s Nursery, which folded in 1985, created 44 different varieties of cider.

Adam added: “There is a very strong orchard tradition in this area - we want to carry this on.”