Apple Howling or 'wassailing' is an ancient custom in which the 'evil' spirits are driven out and the 'good' spirits are encouraged to produce a good apple crop for the following year's cider.
The Chanctonbury Ring Morris Men revived this tradition in the area over 45 years ago and it has become an essential part of Christmas for many people, especially families with young children, who seem to welcome the opportunity to make as much noise as possible! The ceremony was traditionally held on the eve of Twelfth Night, old Christmas Day, but we have settled on the first Saturday in January as a regular date for our event.
The venue is Old Mill Farm, Bolney, RH17 5SE [Map] and we are grateful to Glyn Stevens, the owner, for making us welcome, as always.
The proceedings begin in the farmyard at 6pm with a torchlight procession down the lane to the orchard, where the wassailers encircle one of the oldest trees. The Master of the Ceremony begins the proceedings by leading an invocation, encouraging the tree to produce a bumper crop in the coming season. A spiced and cider-
The high point of the ceremony now takes place with the ‘general hullabaloo’. This begins with a shotgun being fired into the air, at which point, everyone makes as much noise as possible. Bring your own ‘instruments’ -
The evening concludes back at the farmyard with spiced wassail cakes and English cider. As in previous years, we are hoping to be able to sample some more of that wonderful cider from Old Mill Farm, where the ceremony is held. A collection is taken to offset our costs, and so that everyone may associate themselves with the occasion and its undoubted benefits!
Chanctonbury Ring Morris Men and Apple Howling -
A recent book called “Wassailing” -