Raising toast to tree tradition in south Shropshire

By Lucy Todman | Ludlow | South Shropshire entertainment | Published:

An age old tradition has been revived in south Shropshire in a bid to bring a good apple harvest.

Trever Hewell warding off evil spirits at the Ludlow Singing Wassail

Tish Dockerty from Appleteme Apple Juice decided the time was right to bring back a folklore which had been popular in the 17th and 18th century.

The folklore was wassailing, a traditional ceremony that involves singing and drinking to the health of trees in the hopes that they might better thrive. People bang pots with sticks to scare away the evil spirits who may inhabit the trees and prevent a good harvest.

So she asked a friend who has a private orchard near the town walls in Ludlow if she could hold the ceremony in her garden.

And it was such a success that up to 100 people turned out on a sunny but cold Sunday afternoon to bang their pots, sing songs, recite poems and hang toast from the branches of the oldest tree in the orchard.

Tish said: "This was the first wassailing to be held in Ludlow in as long as I have lived here and I hope it is the first of many. I would really like for it to carry on year after year.

"It is a British tradition which dates back hundreds of years and I have wanted to do it for a long time.

"I am always busy in the run up to Christmas pressing apples, but my friend Polly Bolton from Ludlows Arks choir said we could organise it. So we did.

"It was a real family-friendly event. There were poems and songs and we dipped the toast in cider and then poured cider on the roots of the trees. Everyone got involved."

Lucy Todman

By Lucy Todman

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star and Shrewsbury Chronicle based in Shrewsbury.


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