It’s around 8.25pm on Tuesday 1st November and the Gang are
away from starting their 2005 Souling season.
The first night was (almost) as quiet as we would expect for a Tuesday.
‘Almost’ is used as the 3rd pub of the evening, the
Axe and Cleaver in
Dunham, was blessed with a room full of the local Triumph Owners Club
who made a most welcome audience. Beelzebub didn’t quite have
opinion though, as all being careful drivers, there was not a single
suitable drink to be had!
Before we got there however, the Play was first performed at the
Saracen’s Head where there was the usual handful of people in
midweek evening. This included a gentleman who had travelled over from
York to see us. (In fact if you are that gentleman we’d be
interested to see to possibly make use of some of the pictures you took
of us.) All arrangements were confirmed by the publican as being in
place for the last night. He also imparted some interesting information
about the Play’s past that he’d come across - but
perhaps more of that
at some other time.
Following this we went onto the Axe & Cleaver in Dunham where
again played to a midweek sized audience and as usual the
hospitality was impeccable.
Last visit of this year’s first night was to the Vine Inn in
Not as many in the Pub as in previous years, however still well worth
the effort. It turned out that we gave the Landlord quite a surprise
though as this was the first week of him being in the Pub. It seems the
previous publican had not informed him of our plans! Not the first time
this has happened and it won’t be the last.
2nd Night – Wednesday 2nd November 2005
A slight change of cast for the second night as we saw our reserve
Doctor coming into the Gang and our usual doctor going under the horse.
We started out at the Jolly Thresher in Agden where we met up with a
gentleman and his wife from the Bath area and who is involved with
Bathhampton Mummers. It seems they’d seen the Souling
exhibition at the
Northwich Salt Museum and had made enquiries into where they could see
such a play.
From the ‘Thresher it was down to the Stamford Arms at Little
Bollington where we played to a very spartan audience. It is a very odd
shaped and spread out pub with too many nooks and crannies so we end up
moving around a lot. We are however always made very welcome there.
We then moved off and made our way into Lymm where we first visited The
Bull. It’s a nice cosy pub and the Play always goes down well
It was nice the see one of the Antrobus Gang watching us, indeed they
will also be performing in The Bull later in the Month. As we were
getting a little late by this stage we only stopped for a short time
before moving onto the Saddler's Arms. This now seems to be
to be in Lymm and so it was a well filled pub with a good choice of
drinks to choose from! Next year will probably see us finishing there.
Last for the evening was the Spread Eagle. This was very quiet compared
with previous years, indeed it seems to have been getting quieter for a
number of years. At one time we could always be guaranteed a full pub
regardless of the day of the week. The Saddler's seems to be taking
In general it was a good evening, being well received with attentive
3rd Night – Thursday 3rd November 2005
Well the week is getting better by the day.
After meeting at the Saracen's Head we first went into Hollins Green to
the Black Swan and to a very good reception, including being watched by
a member of the Antrobus Gang.
It was turning out to be a bit of a typical damp November evening but
that was not going to dampen our spirits. So off we went to the
Windmill in Carrington where, as last year, we performed just prior to
the start of the evening's Quiz. That did ensure that the pub was well
full, and apart from a character who was far the worse for wear, it was
From there it was unfortunately back down the same road to Heatley and
a surprise performance at the Railway Folk Club. It was a visit
arranged with the evening's guest act but was not known about by the
organisers! Apart from our worst effort at the opening song (and what a
place for it to happen!) we were well received. Thanks to Bryony and
of Elswick for allowing us to interrupt their first half
Having finished there it was back into the 'bus' and back down the road
for the fourth time. On this occasion heading into Urmston and one of
our favourite Pubs, The Roebuck. As we were getting somewhat late by
this time due to all the travelling too and fro to meet the timing
requirements at the Folk Club and for the Quiz. This resulted in a few
less people being in the Roebuck than at our usual time of half to
three quarters of an hour earlier. This is very much a mid-evening
drinking pub and thins out a bit in the later evening. Nevertheless a
good reception as usual
Last was The Church half a mile down the road so not far to go. A very
good reception again and excellent hospitality from the Landlord with
drinks all round for us.
Three days down – two to go so onto the
4th Night – Friday 4th November 2005
Our transport for this year
Well 4 nights gone and the last day to go. It's 11.30am here and an
hour before I leave for the last outing of the Warburton Souling Play
for this season.
But first a quick resume of the last nights proceedings.
First we went to the Railway in Broadheath which can always be a bit
hit & miss as regards what can happen there. This year was most
definitely a miss. Unfortunately spoiled by a few people in the middle
stages of decay! With a rather larger number of misses in recent years
I can see us giving it a rest for a few years.
The Malt Shovels in Altrincham on the other hand was a different
matter. Only one who'd obviously been in there since leaving work but
who was soon put in his place. A good reception. A walk up Victoria
Street and into the Orange Tree which we did before the Old Market
Tavern as the Orange Tree had about the correct volume of people in.
That judgement was correct as the Play was well received especially by
those in the back room. As there were Irish accents amongst them I can
understand why as the Irish have a far better appreciation of things
traditional than do the English.
So after that is was next door into the Market Tavern. Normally we'd
play to a totally hushed pub. Unfortunately the Landlady was on holiday
and the message had not got through. There was one lass who was
claiming to be standing in, denied by the bar staff, but nevertheless
making an absolute fool of herself. No way had she any ability to run a
pub. So with her and her followers who continued to talk throughout, it
turned out to be the worst performance in there ever. Strange what one
person can do!
Anyway we did not stop for a drink as is normal and instead went on to
the Railway in Hale. Was it full or was it full!! The Play was
delivered with great gusto at the top our voices and the response was
the bast yet ever at the Railway. It more than compensated for the
previous pub and left us on an utter high ready for our last day.
5th Night – Saturday 5th November 2005
The Gang after returning from the performance at the Autumn Fair
Did we enjoy ourselves or did we enjoy ourselves? What a day it was.
We met at the Saracen's Head at 1.00pm to have our lunch there. Once
done it was out and a walk down the road to St Werburgh's Church for
our first performance of the day at the the Warburton Autumn Fair. It's
always an experience doing the Play in the church and we're always made
very welcome. Thanks as always to the organisers of the fair for
allowing us to perform there. Also at the fair was a display of some of
the ancient artefacts found in the area around the church by amateur
archaeologist James Balme and detailed on his Ancient
site. A very fascinating display.
Before we left the fair we set our dates for next year and this will
see us finishing on Saturday 11th November 2006.
But back to this year, and after the performance there we returned to
the Saracen's Head to kill a bit of time before we went to perform at
Moss Brow Farm. A little bit of indulgence on our part to bring the
Play back to community.
Upon leaving there we got the bus to Dunham to perform at the Axe
Cleaver again. Now when we got on the bus it turned out that it was the
same bus driver as one of the trips last year and also he'd seen the
Play the previous day in the Malt Shovels in Altrincham! When we got to
the Axe & Cleaver there was an air of anticipation as the
background music was quickly turned off, the pub completely quietened
and cameras were seen coming out. Needless to say it was an excellent
performance made all the better for the Landlord's usual hospitality
with a round of drinks. 3 performances done and so back on the bus to
get back to Heatley.
Once there we went into the Green Dragon and again a very good
reception. It's always a bit difficult here as it is more of a food pub
at that time and so we have to be careful not to interrupt those
eating. And onto the penultimate performance.........
The Railway in Heatley was the venue and it was somewhat on the quiet
side when we got there. A couple of other people arrived so we waited
until they went in. By the time we we'd been going a couple of minutes
a few more had arrived so it was starting to look a respectable
audience.Needles to say for the Railway, it was a good reception and
added to by the free beer again.
So off we set for the mile walk back to the Saracen's Head. It being
the 5th November and this Bonfire night being the 400th anniversary of
Guy Fawkes's plot there was a continual sound of fireworks going off in
The Saracen's Head was heaving when we got there. A quick nod to the
Landlord and he went to open the front door for us as this is used just
as an emergency exit these days. This would be the first time we'd used
that entrance in a good number of years, since the new rear entrance
was added in fact. Must check the dates for that.
Needless to say it was a most excellent performance to round off the
week. The evening terminated in plenty of music, song and best of all,
two splendid hotpots for the Gang and their followers provided by the
Saracen's Head and it's staff. Wonderful.