Alderley Mummers Play

This year the Adlington Morris Men performed the mummers play over the three nights and raised £627 for local Cancer Care services.


Click here to see movies of the play.


Members and former members of Adlington Morris Men perform the play. It was collected from Alec Barber, late of Nether Alderley, later of Broken Cross, with costume detail from Fred Barber of Lyme Green. Additional text was added from personal notes of Clem Barber

 

There are references to mumming at Alderley Park from as early as 1803 and the text bears a striking  similarity to one performed in Cheshire before 1788.  Alderley Mummers Play that we know today is credited as being revived in about 1824 by Samuel Barber, his brother William and some of their cousins. During its long and illustrious revival, only members of the Barber family ever performed in it. For well over 100 years it had formed part of the Christmas celebrations at Alderley Park, home of the Stanley family, and spanned four generations of the Barbers and six different Lord Stanley's. The Alderley Mummers final performance was in 1937, in a live radio broadcast from Alderley Park. 

 

           Alderley Mummers 1920                 Alderley Mummers Play 2009


Photo courtesy - Mary Houseman                      Photo - C.L. Broomhead


Alderley Mummers circa 1910


Photo courtesy - Andrew Barber.                                          

 


Andrew, the great great great grandson of Samuel Barber contacted us after

visiting our web site. This photograph circa 1910


The version of the play that we perform was taught to us by Alec Barber, who in his time had played both Prince Paradise and Colonel Slasher. We have kept close links with the family ever since, especially Mary (daughter of Clem) who in turn had played Enterer In and St George. 

The modern revival was the work of key individuals in Adlington Morris Men and was first performed at Heaton Moor Rugby Club in December 1978. The play is performed in the weeks leading up to the New Year, when inns in the north east of Cheshire host performances, and provide the corresponding hospitality. However, the side has had the honour of performing in the Tenants Hall at Alderley Park, which is now owned by the pharmaceutical company, Astra Zeneca. We have also performed at the 700th anniversary of St Mary's Church in Nether Alderley. Several performances have also been given at Manchester Museum. We also performed the play in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland as guests of the Aughakillymaude Community Mummers. Click Here for details. 

 

For more detailed information about the Alderley Mummers, visit http://www.folkplay.info/Confs/Broomhead2002.pdf .

 

There is a short clip from the middle of the play on YouTube, at   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FLT4BBGUJw

 

To hear an archive audio recording and more information about the Alderley Mummers visit

http://www.alderleyedge.manchester.museum/theme_page.php?page_no=10&topic_id=148&theme_id=84


The costume is a faithful reproduction of that worn by the original Mummers.

 

Beelzebub:

Clown's dress, grotesque mask with protruding teeth and horns, hump on back, carries wooden club and frying pan. 
Groom:

Bowler hat, hunting jacket, riding breeches, boots and crop 


St George:

Cream breeches, black jacket, white gloves, hat made from cardboard covered with tinsel and topped with a plume 
Enter-in:

As St George but trousers instead of breeches, white sash covered with badges of red, white and blue crepe paper. 
Prince Paradise:

Long red robe with silk sash in black round waist. Red sash tied turban-like around head. 
Doctor:

'Welsh' top hat, long coat to ankles, and white lace ruff at neck. 
Colonel Slasher:

Red army tunic, navy blue trousers with red stripe, real sword 
Young ball:

Real horse's skull painted black and attached to a pole; carried by a man covered with a black cloth. Hand through mouth for money; gives young children rides on back. 

Adlington Morris Men also perform the Souling custom from Swettenham, Cheshire.


Photo - D Broomhead   

 


Photo - D Broomhead   


For more photo’s click here.


Material on this website is not to be reproduced without the permission of Adlington Morris Men.