The story of the Widcombe Mummers begins in June 2005. Ian Gilchrist had been at the English Country Music Weekend, and seen a performance from the Marshfield Paper Boys, and also been entertained by a talk from Doc Rowe, the UK's leading archivist of mummers. On the way home back to Bath he started to think, "Why not in Widcombe...?"
In Autumn he persuaded the Widcombe Association to support the idea with a little money, just enough to pay for some rehearsal space and a little party afterwards. Ian then recruited and advertised until he had enough players, wrote a script based on traditional sources but with a local twist (Traffic Wardens) and arranged some rehearsals.
Our first performance was on New Year's Day 2006. The main character 'King of the Beggars' was taken by Tim Sebastion in what was to be his first and last performance (sadly he was taken ill during rehearsals for the following year and never recovered). Another very much loved character is Rob as the Hobby Horse.
We have performed every New Year's Day since 2006. In 2008 the character of Beelzebub made his first appearance. Two of the star characters who have been making regular appearances as our 'bringers-on' have been King Bladud (a well-known Bath character) and Queen Bladud!
Musicians lead the procession with traditional marching tunes, provide sound effects during the performances and accompany the actors in the closing song. For example, in 2012 the procession tune was Monks March, and the song was a Gloucestershire Wassail.
We perform on request on many occasions. Since 2010 we have performed our specially written St George and the Dragon play. We built a 5-metre-long dragon comprising a Spanish/Portuguese head on an English body, in the photo with St George, King Bladud and the King of Egypt’s daughter. Other special performances in Bath have included the unveiling of the Holloway horsetrough plaque, the opening of a new pathway in the Abbey cemetery, and the inauguration of a sundial at the 200th anniversary of the Kennet & Avon canal.
Lastly, we would not be forgiven if we failed to include a picture of Mrs, sorry, Queen Bladud, so here she is, with her favourite pig ring. This picture was taken by Pete Salt of the council's Arts Department who have been kind enough to support our efforts in many ways. There have been many great people involved in our performances that if we tried to list them all we'd never finish, so better stop here.
You can download a pictorial history of the Widcombe Mummers updated January 2019 here