Mumming in Hampshire: The Crookham Mummers

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The Exchequer (Crondall Road) Noon
The Black Horse (The Street) 12.45pm
The Crescent Green (Pilcot Road) 1.30pm
The Queens Head (Dogmersfield) 2.00pm

Get away from the Telly this Boxing Day (December 26th)

On Boxing day everyone is invited to watch one of Englands strangest traditions, where grown men will dress up in costumes made of wallpaper and engage in combat using wooden swords; such is the Crookham Mummers Play ...

The play, which has been entertaining the public since 1870, will be performed in Crookham Village (near Fleet, Hampshire) on Boxing Day, with all donations going to a local charity.

The play lasts about 20-25 minutes. It stars King George, England's hero battling his adversaries, Bold Slasher, Bold Roamer and the fearsome Turkish Knight. There is a Doctor who has grusome yet comic miracle cures you won't get on the NHS and St Nick (or is it Old Nick?) acts as a circus ring master before taking on Johnny Jack, a sailor from the press gang.

Not only that, the pubs are geared up to supply drink and refreshments before, during and after the shows so you can combine the two things. With sword fights, jokes and colourful costumes, the play is great fun for all the family to watch. Topical jokes and adlibs ensure no two performances are quite the same. There's literally nothing else quite like it in the world. Each year about 1000 people turn up to watch, so make sure you get there on time.

Long-time Mummer Tom Dommett, who has been performing in the play every year since 1982, says: 'There have been many attempts to ban Mummers plays over the years, hence Father Christmas asks “Am I welcome or am I not?”'.

There are two styles of Mummers play, the raucous, break the swords, throw the performer in a puddle, pour water down the trousers Crookham style and the dull, stylised, don't scare the horses style most other Mummers teams use.

Tom adds: “Going to see the Mummers is the perfect way to get away from the Telly, get a bit of exercise, have a laugh and share in a community spirit and a sense of history.”

While it is free to watch, all donations go to the Fleet, Crondall and Crookham Welfare Trust, which helps the elderly with heating bills.

The Crookham Mummers are one of the longest running Mummers plays in the world. They have appeared in numerous books on folk customs, on ITV, BBC, Radio 4, at the Sidmouth International Folk Festival and are widely recognised by experts as the most authentic Mummers in the raucous 'outdoor' tradition.