The Warburton Souling Play - The 1978 Revival
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The Saracen's Head Logo A Group Photograph taken later on the first night
'The Players' on the first night 1978.

As already mentioned members of Bollin Morris revived the Play in 1978. As part of the side's enthusiasm for the traditions of the area The Warburton Souling Play was identified as being an aspect of the tradition worth reviving.

So a cast of volunteers was sought and a number of practices held. Costume, or kit as it is preferred to be called, was already available from the Morris side's involvement in the Alderley Edge Mumming Play the previous winter. Following various practices in members' homes a final practice performance was given to other members of the Morris side at their dance practice just prior to the 1st November.

So all being as ready as it could be the first night arrived. The performers met at the King William IV pub in Partington, a pub unfortunately since demolished, for the players to get into their costume (or kitting-up) prior to the first performance of what was to become the revival.

I use the word 'performers' above as the normal term for a group of people performing a Souling Play would be a Gang, however I feel it would be a few years into the revival before that term could be honestly attached. At that time it was a Morris side performing another aspect of its local tradition. No one had any preconceived ideas that this was 'The revival of The Warburton Souling Play' for real. Like the Morris side's involvement in various local events each year, it just went out and performed the Souling Play each year. More on this however, on other pages.

So having kitted-up at the King Billy, as it was affectionately known locally, off we all went towards the Saracens Head. The first performance I suspect came into the category of 'enthusiastic'. Whilst the writer was outside waiting his turn that description comes from the photographs illustrated here of that first performance. Clicking on the image will give a larger version in a separate window.

The entrance of all the cast seems not to have been recorded with these being the only ones known to be available and taken from the Bollin Morris Scrapbook. The Photographer is unknown - but if you happen to be him/her then please get in touch - details on the Souling home page.

The Enterer is the first to enter, however, the first to be photographed was King George played by David Thompson.

Next to enter was the Turkish Champion played by Tony Gower-Jones - a most enthusiastic entrance!

Following the 'fight' the next caught by the camera was the Old Woman played by Mic Huntley.

At least by the time the Doctor, played by Peter Bradock, made an entrance, the gentleman wishing to eat his meal in peace still had a smile on his face.

Last entrance of the first 'revival' performance caught by the camera was that of the Groom played by Colin Buckland leading on The Horse.

The week continued as much as it started, with the same enthusiasm and vigour. Two further photographs are available courtesy of the Bollin Morris scrapbook and these are from 4th November 1978.

Tony Gower-Jones again but this time playing the Groom. The versatility of the group became a hallmark in following years as each player came to know a number of parts to make casting easier. Even now the Gang members whilst having one main part know one or two other parts as well.

Beelzebub played by Laurence Armstrong.

This page updated: 10th February 2004.