The notes about the individual plays and a study of the statistics hopefully give the visitor to this site a good idea of the history of the team. The text below is an attempt to illustrate the various stages of the team’s progress and relate it to folk activities in the area, which may or may not also relate to the development of the folk scene in your area.
An early picture of
the first Four Champions play showing Rest of the World: Jim Mayer, St.
Patrick: Chas Marshall, St.Andrew: Arthur Jackson (in winter combat
camoflage!!), St. David:
The Knaresborough Mummers
were formed at Christmas 1974 by four members of Knaresborough Folk Club, held
in those days at the
At the time in an approximate 12 mile radius of Harrogate, there were four or five folk clubs booking nationally known folk artists on a regular basis and several singaround clubs from Boroughbridge in the east of the area, through Knaresborough and Harrogate and out to Pateley Bridge in Nidderdale, not forgetting Ripon to the north. In 1974 clubs were thriving with the top artists coming to the area and there was no shortage of venues for the Mummers to perform in.
As friends joined the team, their style developed based on a common love of Tony Hancock, Goons, The Navy Lark, Monty Python and whatever other zany humour there was about at the time. Jim Mayer started portraying traditional characters as recognisable comic figures and it was agreed throughout the team, that they would present the plays as if they were continuing to evolve. From the texts it seemed obvious that there was some humour therein and the presence of different characters from history indicated that contemporary events had influenced the plays over the centuries. Why not continue this process rather than perform the plays as a “slice in time” museum piece?
Favourable local reviews in Tyke’s News, the local folk magazine, and then in a national magazine Folk Review following a performance at Whitby Festival, brought the team to the attention of Folk Festival and event organisers and the team performed at venues from Carlisle to Towersey and many points in between. Most team members at the time had the Mummers as their main folk interest so it was quite easy to respond to the variety of gigs that were available. The period from 1975 to 1990 could be regarded as the heyday for the team and there was a constant thirst for new material in those early days which mirrored the folk scene in general at that time.
Since then, as members have
moved on and the folk scene has gradually “throttled back”, regretably no
younger members have come through to fill the ranks, and current members have
many other commitments, particularly to folk dance. However, the team has survived to the present
day not only performing the Blue Stots over the Christmas period, but also
resurrecting one of the longer plays when the occasion demands and members availability
allows. Indeed, some of the plays have
travelled abroad in recent years to
St. George and the Dragon in
Having revived an old tradition from the area, the team is committed to the continuation of the Blue Stots play, which raises money for local charities; it is hoped to continue the constant revival of the other styles of Mummers play and, having recruited a new younger member in 2006, perhaps there may be the resurgence of interest by new blood that is apparent in the folk song scene. Only time will tell……!