Ryton Mummers, Warwickshire 2002
Participants: Dave Wintle (Father Christmas/Beelzebub); Joe Oldaker (King George); Tony Ashley (Bold Slasher); John Hathaway (Doctor Good); William Wintle (Jack); Steve Howlett (Fiddler Wit); Tom Wintle (Johnny Jack).
The script of the Ryton-on-Dunsmore Christmas Mumming Play was discovered in January 2002 after being lost for at least 104 years. We took it out for the first time in a series of out-of-season performances for the Jubilee (I knew the Queen was useful for something). The Ryton Mummers on this occasion comprised four members of Anker, one member of Earlsdon, three residents of the village and one non-resident attendee at the parish church, making a total of seven men playing eight parts (you work it out). We had expected this historic occasion to be accompanied by mass heckling from Ron Shuttleworth and sundry Coventry Mummers. Coventry Mummers had hoped to have been the first to revive the play, but they relinquished it to us, as they try to encourage local groups to take on their own plays where possible. The only place we got heckled mercilessly was in one of the pubs in Ryton itself - a prophet is not without honour, etc. The play was passed to Ron Shuttleworth's son Jack by Anne Langley, who found it in an old book ("Two Conversations on the Field and By Paths etc., of the Ancient Village of Ryton-on-Dunsmore in the County of Warwick", edited by Alfred Starkey, published in London by Eliot Stock of Paternoster Row, 1898). Anne was invited out and was pleased to see us. The Coventry Mummers didn't show, except for Ron Shuttleworth, who was heard to murmur "Not bad", so we must have been a lot better than we thought we were. We raised the princely sum of £61-odd, which was divided between the three churches of the villages in which we performed - it won't do much for the roofs, but it could buy a reasonable quantity of buckets in which to catch rainwater. We did it again at Christmas, and are hoping to do so for ever after.
The recommended URL for this web page is www.folkplay.info/Gallery/Ryton2002.htm