Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll) wrote,
Stevie Carroll
stevie_carroll

Tree Dressing at the Weald and Downlands Open Air Museum

Last Sunday, my plans to stay in and write about winter festivals were slightly disrupted by the realisation that I was missing out on witnessing a real, live one. So I abandoned my computer and rushed over to the Weald and Downlands Open Air Museum in West Sussex for their annual Tree Dressing Festival.


Inside and outside some of the Museum's buildings
Weald and Downland 021212 (4) Weald and Downland 021212 (8)

Held on the first Sunday in December (at the end of National Tree Week) since 1990, the festival is based on much older traditions.


Dances performed by Rabble Folk Theatre
Weald and Downland 021212 (10) Weald and Downland 021212 (12)

During the day there are a wide range of activities to try, including craft sessions to make garland headdresses, jam jar lanterns, and beeswax candles; bread-making in the Tudor kitchen; roasted chestnuts; mulled cider (or apple juice) and spiced biscuits; and acorn planting. Dances, songs and plays were performed in the village's Market Square by Rabble Folk Theatre and Mythago Morris. I particularly enjoyed the 'Tale of the Oak King and the Holly King' as performed by Rabble.


Rabble perform the 'Tale of the Oak King and the Holly King'
Weald and Downland 021212 (15) Weald and Downland 021212 (16)

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Weald and Downland 021212 (35) Weald and Downland 021212 (36)


Dances performed by Mythago Morris
Weald and Downland 021212 (41) Weald and Downland 021212 (43)

Weald and Downland 021212 (49) Weald and Downland 021212 (50)


At 3.45 we all assembled in the Market Square with lanterns lit, and Rabble led us In procession past some of the Museum's other buildings, through the woods and back down the grassy slope to the twin aspen trees just up from the Market Square. All those with lanterns stepped forward to dress the trees' bare branches, then as the sun went down, singers from Rabble led a rendition of the traditional 'The Trees of the Greenwood'. As the day drew to a close we all linked hands to perform what may be the world's largest spiral dance around the trees.


Preparing to parade
Weald and Downland 021212 (54) Weald and Downland 021212 (55)


Dressing the trees
Weald and Downland 021212 (63) Weald and Downland 021212 (65)


Full set of photos here.

The Museum will be staying open throughout the winter, and I'll be going back one day between Boxing Day and New Year's Day when all the Museum's houses will be decorated according to the festive traditions of their period. An ideal way to walk off the overindulgences of Christmas, although the Museum does provide very reasonably-priced and tasty food if you burn off too much energy.
Tags: inspiration, out and about, photos, truth stranger than fiction
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  • 12 comments

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I love it almost as much as Beamish (I still miss living close enough to that one I could cycle over just to buy stuff from the sweet shop or have a drink in the pub).
Awww, you guys make me wish I lived closer to civilisation (only at times like this when pointing out that such lovely places exist)
Hmm, I'm not sure any open air museums are that close to civilisation, to be honest, but I know where you're coming from.
It was the whole "day trip to Beamish" to be honest ;-)
I do miss that part. I just don't miss the lack of public transport that went with living where I did.
Oh wow... putting that place on the list for if we ever get back to the UK...
It's great.
That's my mum dancing with Mythago!! lol

Ohh dammit. If i hadn't been busy editing/being ill that day, i would've gone!! <3
Hee!

I did look out for you, but it was too much of a last minute decision to let you know in advance that I'd be there.
Its always the way! Well if you go again to any morris-y things, give me a poke! :)
Shall do!