and Christmas Guiser plays frequently represented Father Christmas.
Not the gift giver but the more traditional leader of the feast, there
to bring joy and
entertainment to those keeping the feast. If you want to see one these
plays in action
visit this page which has an excellent video of a performance
at London's Globe Theatre including a very good Father Christmas.
The best on line resource for these kind of plays in without a doubt folkplay.info.
The following is an extract from a Mummers play from Cornwall recorded
by the well
known antiquarian William Sandys in circa 1827.
a room, brave gallants, room,
Within this court
I do resort
To show some sport
Gentlemen and ladies, in the Christmas time -
this note of preparation, old Father Christmas capers into the room,
comes I, old Father Christmas.
Welcome, or welcome not,
I hope old Father Christmas
Will never be forgot.
I was born in a rocky country,
where there was no wood to make me a cradle;
I was rocked in a stouring bowl,
which made me round shouldered then,
and I am round shouldered still.
then frisks about the room, until he thinks he has
the spectators, when he makes his exit with this speech.}
went to the orchard,
to steal apples to make gooseberry pies against Christmas?
prose speeches, you may suppose, depend much upon the imagination of
comes I, a Turkish night,
Come from the Turkish land to fight,
And if Saint George do meet me here
I'll try his courage without fear.
comes I, Saint George,
that worthy champion bold.
And with my sword and spear
I won three crowns of gold.
I fought the dragon bold,
and brought him to the slaughter;
By that I won fair Sabra,
the king of Egypt's daughter.
George, I pray be not too bold,
If thy blood is hot, I'll soon make it cold.
Turkish Knight, I pray forbear,
I'll make thee dread my sword and spear.
fight until the T. knight falls.}
have a little bottle, which goes by the name of Elicumpane,
If the man is alive let him rise and fight again.
knight here rises on one knee, and endeavours to continue the fight,
but is again struck down.}
pardon me, Saint George, oh! pardon me I crave,
Oh! pardon me this once, and I will be thy slave.
never pardon a Turkish Knight
Therefore arise, and try thy might.
knight gets up, and they again fight, till the knight receives a heavy
and then drops on the ground as dead.}
there a doctor to be found,
To cure a deep and deadly wound?
yes, there is a doctor to be found,
To cure a deep and deadly wound.
can you cure?
can cure the itch, the palsy, and gout,
If the devil's in him, I'll pull him out.
Doctor here performs the cure with sundry grimaces, and St.George
again fight, when the latter is knocked down, and left for dead.}
another performer enters, and on seeing the dead body, says,}
to ashes, dust to dust,
If uncle Tom Pearce won't have him, Aunt Molly must.
hobby-horse here capers in, and takes off the body.}
comes I, old, old Squire,
As black as any friar,
As ragged as a colt,
To leave fine clothes for malt.
comes I old Hub Bub Bub Bub,
Upon my shoulders I carries a club,
And in my hand a frying pan,
So am not I a valiant man.
characters serve as a sort of burlesque on St. George and the
hero, and may be regarded in the light of an anti-masque.}
comes I, great head and little wit,
Put your hand in your pocket and give what you think fit.
Gentlemen and ladies, sitting down at your ease,
Put your hand in your pockets, give me what you please.
and ladies, the sport is almost ended.
Come pay to the box, it is highly commended.
The box it would speak, if it had but a tongue.
Come throw in your money, and think it no wrong.