Mummers prepare for annual tour

The Sidmouth Mummers entertain in their own unique style during the Festival. Photo by Simon Horn. R

The Sidmouth Mummers entertain in their own unique style during the Festival. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 0771-31-14SH To order your copy of this photograph go to and click on Photo Orders - Credit: Archant

Members of the Sidmouth Traditional Mummers will be delighting pub-goers tomorrow evening (Saturday) with their annual Christmas play.

The ancient tradition’s origins are believed to date back as early as the medieval times - when the Craft Guilds would put on a play to improve the moral standing of the population, who were mainly illiterate.

The tales featured heroes and villains from history and mythology and carried a strong message of right and wrong.

Over the centuries, the play began to symbolise the death of the old year and reached its high-point during the Victorian era.

The first record of the Mummers’ play in Sidmouth dates back almost 200 years to Christmas 1820, when FWP Greenwood was visiting the town from Boston, USA, and saw a performance.

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Henry Piper, current leader of the Sidmouth Traditional Mummers, said: “I think that the very fact of its history means that people see it as an ancient tradition that must be kept up.

“We all love to believe in a little magic and many people feel that keeping these old customs alive brings good luck and good fortune.

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“It’s a piece of social history that has survived despite the advent of television, films and other mass entertainment and, most importantly, it is our tradition, part of Sidmouth, and performed by Sidmouth folk.”

The group has performed a play at Christmas every year since 1979.

This year, the theatre troupe will entertain publicans and guests to a series of skirmishes featuring famous faces including St George, Lord Nelson and King James II.

The play will be followed by a collection for Children’s Hospice South West.

The Mummers will be stopping at:

? The Rising Sun, Sidford – 7pm;

? The Balfour, Woolbrook 7.45pm;

? The Swan - 8.30pm;

? Dukes - 9.15pm;

? The Anchor - 10pm;

? The Volunteer - 10.30pm.

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