Kirdford Players


The Mummers Play

The Kirdford Players go out round the public houses and inns during the week before Christmas with their Mummers Play.

We visit six pubs each night, on different circular routes around Kirdford taking in villages such as Wisborough Green, Petworth, Rudgwick, Dunsfold, Billingshurst, Fittleworth, Midhurst and surrounding areas, raising a total of £1,114 for the NSPCC. So far the group has raised £5,925 over the past eight years. These traditional plays are great fun to perform and many of our group take part over the four days, even some of our otherwise non-acting members. We are very grateful to all the people who gave so generously to the NSPCC and to the publicans who kindly allow us to perform and who always make us feel so welcome.

The term mummers has been associated with bands of masked persons who, during European winter festivals, paraded the streets and entered houses to dance and perform in silence. The earliest written record of such a play in England, is the Revesby Sword Play of the 18th century. There are many regional variants to the mummers play, where a group of oddly named masked characters make traditional speeches in rhyme. The plays all contain a fight where a champion is killed and then brought back to life by a doctor. The performers were traditionally all male, and included a fool, a man dressed in women's clothes and at least one local folklore character in the Kirdford play Beelzebub from Petworth amongst the colourful cast. Traditionally the plays were always introduced by a presenter (often Father Christmas) and concluded with a collection.The players always hid their faces and disguised themselves by either wearing their everyday clothes inside out or by costumes of rags and tatters. The Kirdford Mummers Play was collated from archive material and has been performed locally for nearly thirty years. The current cast are all members of Kirdford Players.