Trot on back to the Past this Weekend!

Heritage and Horses blog... Family shop to five minute of fame

Heritage and Horses blog… Family shop to five minute of fame – Sourced from Deborah Curtis of the Field Theatre Group

Littleport’s famous ironmongery shop – J H Adams – that had been unchanged since and restored to its 19th century state as a Heritage Lottery funded project is opening its doors again on Saturday 23 August from 10 am till 4pm.

The real Adams family is a welcoming bunch!

The real Adams family is a welcoming bunch! Sourced from J H Adams Heritage Centre

This Family Adams Project is a time capsule that documents the fascinating paraphernalia of the local shop and lives in Littleport and the Fens by displaying the items that were for sale to the shop ledgers used as well as the photographs and objects of the related past – including that of the horse, which played an important role back then. The J H Adams Heritage Centre of Main Street will be holding a second-hand book fair to raise its funds. Come and support it by having a browse through the fine selection of good quality books while enjoying teas and coffees with them! While there, you can see the paraphernalia, photographs and information of these beasts that tolled on the land and streets for man throughout the Fenland during the centuries. The shop was transformed into an old saddler’s shop that bustled with actors and a film crew back in April to create a community film about them.

logos

Film crew happily involved with the Horseman's Word

Film crew happily involved with the Horseman’s Word – sourced from Deborah Curtis of The Field Theatre Group

The Horseman’s Word is another recently finished but still continuing Heritage Lottery-Funded project ran by the Field Theatre Group, a community learning, inclusive and engagement organisation based in Littleport that combine performing arts with Fenland heritage and culture.

Under ADeC and in partnership with the Wisbech, Fenland and Ely museums, the Field Theatre Group got together film makers, researchers and experts to work on a good outcome of increased interest in the true stories about heavy horses from a previous Common Ground project that gathered and taught expression of local stories in sessions and workshops. People were invited to talk to horse experts and give in historical materials like memories and photographs in workshops. A travelling museum exhibition, an on-line archive, a history field day with a local primary school, a documentary DVD and drama workshops has been coming out of it all.

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire had aired an interview about this fascinating project on June 3rd last year, and the BBC took further interest in the heritage of the heavy horses lately. BBC Look East aired their filming of the Field Theatre Group’s filming on location for a production that includes/on heavy horses on the 6pm show on Tuesday 5th August this year, and the director, Deborah Curtis was interviewed by Kevin Burke about their activity and great work. The project has grew successfully from a previous one into its glamorous conclusions of being on BBC television air time, other location shoots like near Colchester earlier this month and promoting the learning, talents and skills of the local stars from Littleport.

The BBC film crew working with the heavy horses

The BBC film crew working with the heavy horses – sourced by Deborah Curtis of The Field Theatre Group

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Plough Monday in the Fens

Heritage Lottery FundFollowing from my last post, we have received more suggestions about events in the area. Here I would like to showcase the fantastic Fen traditions of Plough Monday and Molly Dancing. The following information and photos were kindly provided by Norfolk Our World Festival Ltd.

Molly dancers on the bridge at Welney

Molly dancers on the bridge at Welney

Plough Monday has been an important ritual for agricultural workers in the East of England for centuries, highlighting the start of the agricultural year. Traditionally, Plough Monday was held at the first Monday after Epiphany, or Twelfth Night. This was the first day after Christmas that farm-workers were meant to return to work; instead they decorated a plough and pushed it round the village, calling at the houses of the well-off villagers to beg for money, to help them get through the difficult winter period. In Cambridgeshire and Norfolk the ploughboys performed a dance known as Molly Dancing. Read more about Plough Monday traditions and Molly Dancing at http://www.ploughmonday.co.uk/ and http://www.mollydancing.com/

Ramsey Plough Monday

Ramsey Plough Monday. Note the Straw Bear

The Plough Monday celebrations can be experienced in the wider Fens area over the next few weeks.

The Mepal Molly Men, for instance, have been visiting lots of local towns this week (see for instance here). The following events, altough not strictly within the Ouse Washes area, will also give you a good flavour of these celebrations which would have been more widespread in the past. Come and see the festivities for yourself here:

* Sat 12 January (tomorrow): Whittlesey Straw Bear Festival is well known. The Ouse Washes Molly Dancers will also be here.

Mon January 14th. Ramsey Plough Monday. Several hundred school children process through the town with a Straw Bear (instead of a plough); and The Ouse Washes Molly Dancers followed by Molly Dancing on Abbey Green. Procession leaves Ramsey Junior School at 1.00pm.
* Sat 26th January. The Mark Jones Day of Molly Dance. 150 molly dancers
from around the country gather to celebrate Plough Monday traditions in the places where they originated. 11am The Cutter, Ely, 1pm The Anchor, Little Downham, 1.30pm The Plough, Little Downham, 3.30pm The Five Miles Inn, Upware.