Traditional Drama Forum - No.7 ISSN 1743-3789 April 2003

More on Burton upon Stather Plough Jags

Paul Laverack has contributed an unidentified newspaper clipping describing Plough Jag Day in Burton upon Stather, Lincolnshire, a photograph of which we published as a query in Traditional Drama Forum No.6. The following is an extract:

Gangs roamed the villages
- but it was only horseplay

   In a letter to the Editor, a former Burton resident recalls boyhood memories of the now extinct plough-jagging which was one of the most popular holidays in North Lincolnshire villages over half a century ago.
   He is Mr.A.McV.Godfrey, who lived in the village until he was 11 , before going to school in Sheffield. At 16 he joined hte Civil Service and was an exciseman for over 40 years.

Plough Monday
   At Burton, as in most if not all other North Lincolnshire villages, there was one recognised holiday - Plough Jag Day - often referred to as Plough Monday, held on the first Monday after Epiphany.
   From many of the villages gangs of about a score of farm men and lads, who dressed in various costumes, went from village to village to collect money which at teh end of the day they shared among themselves.
   Many of the gangs were well turned out. The characters in most of the gangs followed much the same pattern. Among others there was a doctor, in top hat and tail coat, a negro and a rag fool, but the two most dominant charactes were the hobby horses.
No Hooligans
   Dressed in horse rags which were draped over hoops carried by bands over the shoulders, and normally wearing one white and one black stocking (the mark of a thoroughbred) they usually presented a fearsome appearance.

   Beer flowed freely on "jagging day" and towards the end of the day there was often a good deal of high-spirited horesplay among the gangs. But I have no recollection of the hooliganism and wanton destruction which is such a feature of today.

Through Fire
   Plough jagging was going out in my early days but I can remember as many as six gangs, including out own, coming into the village during the day.
   My uncle remembered jagging in its hey-day. He often told me that the village was hardly clear of one gang or another all day.
   Sir Robert Sheffield, of Normanby Hall, entertained such gangs as could conveniently meet in the stable yard of the hall at night. A huge bonfire was lit and tugs-of-war between the gangs was a feature, in some cases the pull being through the fire. Each gang which attended received half-a-sovereign - worth collecting in those days.

Reference

A.McV.Godfrey (1967) "Gangs roamed the villages - but it was only horseplay"
   [Unidentified Newspaper Clipping, Lincoln Central Library], 21st Jan 1967

This clipping was found in a folder at Lincoln Central Library, with dating information but no source. There was another cutting, taken from the Sheffield Telegraph in the same folder and Mr.McV.Godfrey does mention going to school in Sheffield so he may have settled there. Can anyone provide further details?


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