Stroud Wassail

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Styx of Stroud Border Morris is the host side for Stroud Wassail, an annual gathering of wassail singers, mummers, musicians and morris dancers of all kinds. The first Stroud Wassail took place in January 2014 and was a very low-key event, organised by local folklorist and musician Steve Rowley, Stroud’s Museum in the Park and Styx of Stroud. Local children made their own versions of the ‘Broad’ (a kind of totemic cow figure traditionally used in Gloucestershire wassails), Styx performed a few dances, and a sapling apple tree in the Museum’s walled garden was wassailed.

The Styxers gather on a bright and crisp winter day for the first ever Stroud Wassail at Stroud's Museum in the Park.
The Styxers gather on a bright and crisp winter day for the first ever Stroud Wassail at Stroud’s Museum in the Park.

Apple wassailing isn’t a Gloucestershire tradition, however. Our local tradition is to wassail homes and farms, so in 2015 we took our wassail into the town centre and re-enacted a house wassail at the Subscription Rooms, and processed around the town with a new ‘Broad’, based on old photographs from an early 20th century Gloucestershire wassail. We invited all the local morris sides to join us and we danced throughout the town, magically turning a cold and rainy morning into a sunny day packed full of music, dance, song and laughter – plus a few beers of course. Needless to say, and a great time was had by all. Click here for a documentary feature of the day by Philip Booth of Stroud Community TV.

Stroud Wassail 2016 featured morris sides from Wales, Oxfordshire, Worcestershire and Wiltshire, as well as all our local sides. There was added colour in the form of the annual Mummers Unconvention, held for the first time in Stroud, and the streets were filled with morris, mummers, musicians and mayhem. Click here for pictures of the day.