Mudcat Café message #851087 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #54781   Message #851087
Posted By: The Shambles
20-Dec-02 - 08:57 AM
Thread Name: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
You can't tell from the words here but you can hear the relaxation in the voice when the Chairwoman thought she was of the hook by agreeing that they just could not turn a blind eye. Only to be caught competely off guard with the next question!

They have of course been turning a blind eye to matters of public safety for many years. Err, it err, it is part of the err, licensing procedure that has been going on for some considerable length of time.

Today programme BBC Radio 4 20 December 2002

-Mummers plays are a very old and traditional part of English rural history. Short performances taken round pubs and private houses, in exchange for food and drink. It's a custom that dates back to medieval times. There is a strong tradition of them, in the West Country in particular but the tradition, in West Dorset at least has been stopped in its tracks – by the lack of a public entertainment licence.

John …'s [Kay?}been visiting Cerne Abbas to see the mummers at work.

Sound of the play proceeding and of music.

Now this play dates back to Napoleon's time and for generations the Wessex Morris Men have performed it in the pubs of Cerne Abbas in the week before Christmas. And the actors are all dressed up in their medieval costumes with multi-coloured ribbons flowing and as you can hear, their bells are ringing.

Now normally when they get here to the Red Lion pub they go inside – and they perform for a few minutes but this year they were told they couldn't go in.

David Pritchard you're the squire of the Morris Men, what happened then, this week?
We turned up as usual at eight-o-clock. We went to perform the traditional mummers play in two of the pubs in Cerne Abbas and when we got in, the landlady informed us that the local Licensing Authority had been informed and they had informed her that she hadn't got a licence and that we weren't allowed to perform inside the pub this year.

So what did you do instead?

Well, we sort of instead of, well my initial thing is –'in comes I, Father Christmas', instead of that I had to say 'out comes I, Father Christmas' and we came out of the pub and performed in the square outside the Red Lion.

It is very nice and picturesque on a fine evening but you're saying that it puts your whole traditions at risk?

Well, last year it poured with rain, and we certainly wouldn't go to lie in the road in the pouring rain. Yes it does, because if pubs are not prepared to take us in, then this won't be done. The Morris dancing that we do outside the pubs in the area, well if they can't take us in, and the tradition that has been kept alive for hundreds of years will simply whither and die on the bone.

Well, I'm going to go inside and talk to the landlady of the pub and you guys had better stay outside as you are banned, if you are playing.

[….Coates] you are the landlady of the Red Lion, it would have only cost you £10 or so to get one of these licenses so why didn't you?

I was unaware that a licence was required for a traditional village activity like this that has been going on for the past two decades.

What do you think of, that it is required and that you had to ban them?

I think it's a shame because you are going to rule out traditions like this that go on in villages, for villager's entertainment and the entertainment, the own entertainment of the people who are performing.

Do you think that rural life. As we know it, is in danger?

I do, because these sort of things are going to be wiped-out and the traditions that have been going on for years are going to eventually stop and we will lose all our history.

Well. Let me just add, before go that the Wessex Morris Men also raise money for charity when they do this but they couldn't raise money out on the street to do this because they needed a separate streets collections licence – and they hadn't applied for one of those either.

[John K…] in Crene Abbas, there well [Jill Haines] is chairwoman of the Appeals and Licensing Committee on West Dorset District Council, good morning.

Good morning.

This is mad, isn't it?

Err, it err, it is part of the err, licensing procedure that has been going on for some considerable length of time.

Still mad, isn't it?

Err, no it is not mad, it is there to protect the public.

How so?

How does it protect the public?


Because err, when someone id holding an entertainment with more than two entertainers. There are err, much stricter fire regulations for properties.

So it is just inevitable and something we just have to put up with?

Its something that has been there for some length of time, and err you know, the District Council are fully supportive of the mummers, for sure. But err, if a licence is applied for in advance then err, without predetermining it, we would be certainly more than happy to look at them.

Do you think that this threatens the very thing they do, the way, because of the way it has to work?

Well, what the District Council did was responded to a complaint from the public. We had somebody telephone the officers at the District Council, who said that they understood it was happening and that there wasn't an entertainment licence. Having had a complaint, we had to investigate and…

You couldn't turn a blind eye to it?

We couldn't turn a blind eye to it.

Do you recognise though, would you have preferred to have turned a blind eye to it?

Err, I'm don't turn a blind eye to any situation that could put the public at risk.

Well, [Jill Haines] thank you very much.