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Wassailing in Nailsea

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Steeped in folklore tradition a wassailing ceremony was hosted at Nailsea Ring O'Bells at the weekend.

Nearly 100 people assembled to perform the ancient rites to ensure a successful apple harvest for 2022.

Wassailing is a Twelfth Night tradition that has been practiced in Britain for centuries.

It has its roots in a pagan custom of visiting orchards to sing to the trees and spirits in the hope of ensuring a good harvest the following season.

This was the 10th annual event in Nailsea but a first at the St Mary's Grove pub.

Nailsea Cider and the Ring O'Bells organised the annual event for Saturday, January 15.

Wassailing locally was under threat when Transition Nailsea folded and The Old Farmhouse could no longer accommodate the group.

This resulted in the annual trek banging saucepans and carrying lanterns across to Trendlewood Park having to be re-routed (re-rooted).

Happily, it was Ringers to the rescue and the apple trees in the pétanque area were used for the reciting of incantations and singing.

The Butler was Ron Febrey and his wife Beanie played Pomona the goddess of fruit trees, gardens, and orchards while the badly behaved cider-guzzling Green Man was Steve Cayzer, who represents the unpredictable seasons of the year.

Ron said: “Because of Covid there was no wassailing last year which is why the harvest was poor.”

Ron encouraged his audience to shout the Anglo-Saxon ‘Waes Hael’ meaning good health.

There was lots of noise to scare away evil spirits and the children hung good luck toast dipped in cider on the trees for the birds to visit.

Barley Rye folk group led the singing and acted out the very animated Mummers play on the outside stage.

This is the story of St George and the Dragon where the character of good triumphs over its foe.

This over-the-top drama with story lines delivered in rhyme completed the fun evening and everyone retired indoors for more cider drinking and victuals.As well as raising money for the Chilren’s Hospice South West there was a collection for the Great Western Air Ambulance.​

  • The next apple fundraising charity event is when the autumn windfalls from the CHSW orchard at Wraxall with be made into cider, cake and toffee apple-making on Saturday, October 15, also at the Ring O'Bells. See What’s On page for more details HERE.


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ABSTRACT NAILSEA: Nailsea People front page image also on Nailsea People Facebook heading - New Year's celebrations herald the start of Dry January for some peeps...