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A taste of the West Country in West Norfolk as Wassailing takes place in Swaffham




The age-old country tradition of wassailing took place at Swaffham’s community orchard on Saturday with 60 people in attendance.

A procession led by lighted torches, where drums, pots and pans were banged, was followed by the burning of an old tree to symbolise “out with the old and in with the new” for the new harvest.

The procession into the orchard with lighted torches
The procession into the orchard with lighted torches

Mulled apple juice was offered to the oldest tree present as a blessing to ensure a bountiful harvest of fruit for the coming year. This involves hanging soggy toast in it.

The burning of the old tree provides some warmth for onlookers
The burning of the old tree provides some warmth for onlookers

The noisy procession to the orchard at Tumbler Hill was performed to scare away any demons and nasty things that may be lurking in the orchard.

A double bass, fiddles and violin, as well as the local drumming circle, helped to create a noisy atmosphere.

Julie Andrews is crowned the queen of the Wassail
Julie Andrews is crowned the queen of the Wassail

After the tradition was carried out, roughly 40 people enjoyed a ceilidh in the community centre, as well as a bring-and-share buffet and soup.

Katy Fullilove, project coordinator at ESCAPE who hosted the event, said volunteers were out in force to make 200 lanterns using jars which were hung up on the trees.

ESCAPE Project coordinator Katy Fullilove offers a musical touch to the proceedings
ESCAPE Project coordinator Katy Fullilove offers a musical touch to the proceedings

She said: “We thought we’d bring a West Country tradition to Norfolk.

“It’s a lot of fun and really good to reconnect people with the land, offering the community the chance to get involved.

Wassail festival at Swaffham
Wassail festival at Swaffham

“We are hoping to grow the event next year and make it a really well-established event here.”

She also added there were no noise complaints!

Adrian Tebbutt was made the master of ceremonies for the wassail, meaning he was responsible for leading people through the verse.

Adrian Tebbutt, the master of ceremonies for Swaffham's Wassail
Adrian Tebbutt, the master of ceremonies for Swaffham's Wassail


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