To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
10 messages

Origins: Pace egging Song

28 Nov 02 - 01:57 PM (#836641)
Subject: Origins: Pace egging Song
From: AlanS

This is a song much favoured by one of our side,Lord Conyers Morris,but nobody in the side has any knolage of its origins.Help much apprecated, Thankyou A.

28 Nov 02 - 02:23 PM (#836660)
Subject: RE: Origins: Pace egging Song
From: greg stephens

I think the very widely known one was based on the Heysham, Lancs, version. But it was (and is) widely sung in north Lancs and south Cumbria. It went with the Mumming Play which mainly went out at Easter in those parts. My grandad went out in Millom in about 1900, and I have a photo of him blacked up in very shabby clothes for the purpose.

28 Nov 02 - 02:53 PM (#836675)
Subject: RE: Origins: Pace egging Song
From: Dave the Gnome

Hey Greg! I am pace egger myself (A valiant knight am I and Hector is my name...) and we go to Millom at least once every couple of years for a holiday (Well - Haverigg actualy but Millom has the nearest shops!) Any chance of you posting the piccie and any other details of Millom Pace Egging?



28 Nov 02 - 06:13 PM (#836744)
Subject: RE: Origins: Pace egging Song
From: Thomas the Rhymer

I find that the Lord Nelson referrence must be a clue... "with a bunch of blue ribbons tied round by his knee"... waddya t'ink?

28 Nov 02 - 07:22 PM (#836780)
Subject: RE: Origins: Pace egging Song
From: greg stephens

Sorry cant do pix I have no computer. keep your eye out for me in the Miners in Silecroft or the King Billy in Kirksanton and I'll show you. My family were all miners at Hodbarrow.

29 Nov 02 - 06:31 AM (#837002)
Subject: RE: Origins: Pace egging Song
From: DG&D Dave

Here is a reasonable explanation that I ripped off the Vancouver Morrismen site

The pace-egging play is an example of the English ritual folk plays, called Mumming plays, which are believed to be the oldest plays in the English language. These plays were performed predominantly in the villages of England around Christmas time. However, in the north west of England they were performed around All Soul's Day (better known as Halloween) or at Easter.
The pace-egging play is the Easter version and gets it's name from the old English word for Easter - Pasch. The festival predates Christianity which, as was often the case, superimosed a new festival on top of an older pagan celebration. The word Easter is itself derived from the name of the Saxon goddess for springtime - Eastre (or Eostre) whose sacred beast was the hare - the old version of the Easter bunny! Eggs have been associated with Easter - and many other springtime festivals around the world - as an obvious symbol of continuing life and resurrection.

So what's the Mumming Play about? What does it all mean?

Probably not a lot! Over the centuries it has evolved and been changed to the point where we can only guess at what it all means. There are, however, some common elements found in all the plays collected around England. Someone is killed (in our pace-egging play it is the Turkish Knight who is killed by St. George) and a quack doctor revives him. This is thought to represent the yearly cycle of the Earth - life seems to die in the Winter and is revived in the Spring. So it's possibly some old ritual magic to ensure that the cycle of the seasons continues. The other common element is the strange consutmes worn by the "actors". The ribbons, rags and covered face (sometimes blackened) are thought to act as disguise to ensure that the magic of the ritual will work. The covered face may give us a clue as to where the term "Mumming" originated. The German for mask is mummen, so perhaps the Saxons brought the play to England.

If you ever see our pace-egging play, please remember:

"Put your hands in your pocket and pull out your purse,
Give us a trifle, you'll not feel much worse".

29 Nov 02 - 10:44 AM (#837169)
Subject: RE: Origins: Pace egging Song
From: Dave the Gnome

The King Billy's a cracking pub. Apart from when it's closed after you have been wandering about on Black Coombe for hours in the rain...;-)

I will get in touch next time we go up.

Cheers Greg


01 Dec 02 - 05:40 PM (#838463)
Subject: RE: Origins: Pace egging Song
From: AlanS

thankyou very much. I'm new to this site and I find the respound incredable. I also find it strange that a forine side knows more about English trads than we do,but having met Vancouver Morris it's not that surprising. Thankyou once again Alans

13 Nov 09 - 04:02 PM (#2765528)
Subject: RE: Origins: Pace egging Song
From: Helen Jocys

We have the Souling Play in Warburton, Cheshire every Hallowe'en.
My son always performs and my grandson plays the Turkish Champion.
The horse's head is buried in the grounds of the Saracen's Head pub at the end of each performance, to be unearthed each year prior to the play. This is always followed by a lively session of music and songs. Can't wait for the next one.


13 Nov 09 - 04:22 PM (#2765547)
Subject: RE: Origins: Pace egging Song
From: Steve Gardham

The Pace-egging song most likely evolved from the play itself. All it really is is a device to introduce the various actors. Although we don't have sufficient records to take specific mummers plays back beyond the advent of print something similar must have been performed in medieval times. The plays as we now know them were spread by little printed chapbooks published in their thousands in the north of England. Some of the better-known ones seem to have been simplifications of an earlier printed play 'The Seven Champions of Christendom' which of course includes St George.