The founding National Association of Morris and Sword Dance Clubs

Morris and The Mummers

Mummers plays (or seasonal folk plays) are performed by a groups of actor, called mummers.  Several Morris sides also perform mummers plays, or have members who perform with the local mummers team, and information on some of them is given below.  And more information about Mummers plays can be found on Wikipedia.

Before venturing out for your annual Christmas Mumming expedition ... read the FAQ on Peter Millington's Master Mummers pages: How does the Licensing Act (2003) affect mummers?. Thus it is not clear what the situation is if, as with the Keynsham play below, a Morris Dance is integral to the performance. With the Keynsham play, Bristol MM dance "Good King Wenceslas", that well known Adderbury dance(!)

Many Morris sides act a mummers play during Christmas and the New Year. Above are Bristol Morris Men as Keynsham Mummers, December 26th 2007, in Keynsham shopping precinct. At the end of the play they exit singing the carol The Holly and the Ivy

Here is a mummers play that was performed by Jockey Morris back in 1963. Neil Muir (ex. Stafford Morris) writes:

"Going through my drawers the other day (eh?) I found a copy of Jockey's mummers' play at the Methodist Central Hall in Birmingham in 1963. I contacted Jonathan Cole, and wondered if they had it and, if not, if they would like a copy for the scrap book. They couldn't find it, or they'd lost the scrap book or the keeper of the scrap or something, and so I sent him a copy. Actually, not a photocopy, because the original that I have is an old spirit-duplicated type, and was getting too faint to photocopy or scan, so I retyped it." (Thanks Neil & Ann-Marie)

Mumming plays like this one are very much part of a “living tradition”, so they usually have a contemporary feel to them, and a very short life, maybe only one performance! This script is particularly interesting in that it certainly has a feel of 1963!

Mumming on the Web

See the Mumming Archive: Ron Shuttleworth's archive of mumming plays.
See also the Folk Play Research Site and Master Mummers, as well as the electronic version of the Cawte, Helm, and Peacock English Ritual Drama (ERD). For the ERD, Peter Millington writes:

“ This is an electronic version of the book English Ritual Drama (ERD), published by Christopher Cawte, Alex Helm and Norman Peacock in 1967, together with three later supplements published by Cawte. It remains one of the best guides to the literature on English folk drama, assisting the location of scripts and other primary information. It lists over 1,500 places where traditional plays were performed, backed up with a bibliography of over 800 references. This edition merges the supplements with the original listings, provides enhanced features, and updates the introductory chapters. ”