Bibliography of Nottinghamshire Folk Plays & Related Customs

*A.S.Buxton Collection (No Date - d)

Source:
*Albert Sorby Buxton (Col.)
*The Christmas Play of the "poor owd oss" [Cuckney, Mansfield & Elksley, Notts.
A.S.Buxton Collection, Buff notebook, pp.33A-42

*Source states:

"The play of the 'Poor owd oss' was played in Mansfield at Christmas time up to about 1870, it then died out and to-day even the words seem lost except for an odd time or two. Previous to the War, 1914, however it was played each Christmas at Cuckney and at Christmas 1921 it was again revived for the entertainment of the village children at their school party. The words which follow were obtained from the man who has played the part of the horse's head for some years. The custom was for several men to go round to the houses & public houses and when they had entered to repeat the first three verses then they fetched in the 'owd oss', a gruesome figure, being a horse's head fastened to a stick and carried by a man draped with a dark cloth. The play is more or less suggested by the words.

In the last verse a blacksmith was summoned and he attempted to shoe the horse. Rather rough bye-play followed when the blacksmith was kicked over by the horse. Drinks were then called for by the company, and after all had been supplied, the server approached the horse and said 'Could th'owd oss manage at drink". The jaws of the horse were so arranged that a glass could be put in them and so the player got his refreshment without taking off his things.

The play varied slightly as to the words in the different towns and villages but in the main was the same. for instance at Elksley they said"

'And where do ye think he took me Sir?
He took me down a suff and where do you think he landed?
Against the blacksmith's shop.'"

There then follows the full text of the Cuckney version, comprising eight verses, amounting to 48 lines.

Index Terms:
Locations: Cuckney, Notts. (SK5671); Mansfield, Notts. (SK5361); Elksley, Notts. (SK6875)
Years: *Ceased 1870; Perf. before 1914; Rev. 1921
Subjects: *Text Fragment; "Poor Owd Oss"; Christmas; Song; Play; Owd Oss; Blacksmith
Archives: Ref.: TD00786; E.L.Guilford Collection, Ref.M99 12/3

Indexed by Peter Millington. Last updated Mar.2005

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