The Warburton Souling Play - Performances 2005
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It’s around 8.25pm on Tuesday 1st November and the Gang are 15 minutes away from starting their 2005 Souling season.

The Warburton Soulers just before departing for the Saracen's Head 1st Nov 2005

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 that 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 for a 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 very 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 we again played to a midweek sized audience and as usual the publican’s hospitality was impeccable.

Last visit of this year’s first night was to the Vine Inn in Dunham. 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

Inside the Jolly Thresher, Agden


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 in there. 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 ‘the’ place 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 over that role.

In general it was a good evening, being well received with attentive audiences.

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 well received.

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 the Witches of Elswick for allowing us to interrupt their first half performance.

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 next…………………

4th Night – Friday 4th November 2005

The Gang Bus 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
Outside the Saracen's Head 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 Warburton 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 distance.
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.

This page updated: 2nd October 2007.