Do you recognise these Sid Valley Mummers?

A troupe of mummers in Sidmouth led by Arthur Baker of Sidbury. The picture is beleived to have been

A troupe of mummers in Sidmouth led by Arthur Baker of Sidbury. The picture is beleived to have been taken sometime between 1905 and 1908. - Credit: Archant

A Sidmouth folk theatre troupe, which recently discovered this century-old photograph, is appealing for assistance from Herald readers to identify former members.

Henry Piper, leader of the Sidmouth Traditional Mummers, came across this picture while researching the history of the group.

The picture, which is believed to have been taken between 1905 and 1908, shows the cast in costume for a play celebrating the centenary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

Henry said: “We have some names of men who were involved in the mummers around that time, but we would like to know if any Herald readers can put names to the faces in this picture.

“The picture has only just been re-discovered after being lost for many years, and we are keen to identify some of the men depicted in it. There are a couple of them that we do not recognise. It would be nice to know who these men are.”


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Henry said he had already identified the man lying down at the front of the picture as Arthur Baker, from Sidbury.

Arthur dictated the text of the play to folklorist Peter Kennedy in 1954, with the help of Wyn Humphries, who was the Sidbury school teacher. Henry added: “It is his text that we use as the basis of our modern performances each Christmas.”

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The Sidmouth Traditional Mummers have been a regular feature of the town’s Christmas festivities since 1979, after a group of enthusiasts got together to revive the customary seasonal production.

The light-hearted play involves a series of skirmishes between historical heroes and villains, such as Nelson, The Duke of Wellington and The Turkish Knight.

Henry said: “Inevitably, one of them is killed and brought back to life by a miraculous quack doctor, who exaggerates his skill and grossly overcharges for his services.

“This was felt to symbolise the death of the old year, and the promise of the return of spring and a good harvest for the next year.”

Can you help identify the men in the picture? Call 01392 888503 or email harvey.gavin@archant.co.uk

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