The annual Priston Wassail began on Priston Village Green for a spot of Morris dancing at 2.45pm, swiftly followed by the crowning of the Wassail Queen at 3.00pm, before the congregation processed to the orchard at Barnstables, lead by the musicians of Priston Jubilee Morris.
Once at the orchard, the ceremony began in earnest, with the Wassail queen putting some cider-drenched toast in the branch of an apple tree and then pouring cider around its base, as gifts of good health and a bountiful crop in the coming year.
Mulled cider began to circulate amongst the crowd while the Wassail Incantation was read by all, to further encourage the tree:
Old Apple Tree, Old Apple Tree; We’ve come to Wassail thee; To bear and to bow apples enow; Hats full, caps full, three bushel bags full; Barn floors full and a little heap under the stairs.
Finally, loud noises were made with sticks and pans to scare away any lurking evil spirits, and shotguns were fired into the branches.
With the ceremony complete, the crowd walked back to the village hall for tea and apple cake, while a charity raffle in aid of Children’s Hospice South-West was held. First prize – an apple tree!
Then, at 4.00pm, came the entertainment everyone had been waiting for…The Priston Mummers play, performed by Priston Jubilee Morris. It wouldn’t be the same without it! Here’s to a good harvest in 2012.