Cold Ash & Hermitage Mummers

About Mummers
The history of mummers has been discussed at various times and some of the links from our Home Page give information.

The plays are generally about death and resurrection and the roots probably go back before Christianity but as with many traditions, the Church tried to either eliminate or adapt them for its own purposes. Being performed at the turn of the year, the death and resurrection could represent the passing of the old year and the coming of the new. In this area, the plays were performed in the large houses in front of the local squire or other land-owner. The words of the play were part of the oral tradition and never written down. So the words varied with each performance and from year to year as the players tried to remember their parts and whenever a new member joined the band. Even today, most mummers use quite a lot of improvisation and asides that keep the plays alive and topical. In former times, performing the play enabled the players to collect money for beer and possibly to help tide them over the winter season when there was little paid work around. Nowadays, some teams, including ourselves, collect for charity.