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Northwold villagers turn out to take part in traditional Plough Monday event

PUBLISHED: 11:48 09 January 2018 | UPDATED: 22:11 09 January 2018

Plough Monday is an East Anglian tradition that dates back hundreds of years. Picture: Ian Burt

Plough Monday is an East Anglian tradition that dates back hundreds of years. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

A traditional custom which dates back hundreds of years has been celebrated in a Norfolk village.

The Plough Monday celebrations in Northwold. Picture: Ian BurtThe Plough Monday celebrations in Northwold. Picture: Ian Burt

Plough Monday is believed to have started around the 17th century and saw ploughman on the first Monday after the Twelfth Night mark the start of the agriculture year following Christmas.

The practice was revived in Northwold, near Thetford, around 18 years ago after it had disappeared for a number of years and it has gone from strength-to-strength.

Between 150 and 200 people braved the cold night to take part in the event which started with a flaming torch procession, with musicians, following a plough from the sports and social club to St Andrew’s Church.

At the church the plough was blessed and there was Molly and Morris dancing and a Mummers play.

The Plough Monday celebrations in Northwold. Picture: Ian BurtThe Plough Monday celebrations in Northwold. Picture: Ian Burt

Parish council vice chairman Cliff Anderson said the tradition - which was mostly practiced in East Anglia and northern England - appeared to stop in the 1930s.

He said: “The farm hands used to go around door to door with the ploughs collecting money. They dressed in various costumes and painted their faces to disguise themselves from their employers.”

On the event in Northwold he added: “It puts the village on the map. We are trying to encourage the youngsters and there were quite a lot of young people there and that is a good sign.

“The more people that know about these things and see our event it might make them revive things and keep more and more of these old traditions.”

The Plough Monday celebrations in Northwold. Picture: Ian BurtThe Plough Monday celebrations in Northwold. Picture: Ian Burt

Following the blessing the procession made its way to Haylock’s Barn where the Mummers play was performed again along with more music and dancing. Mulled wine and mince pies were served.

During the night a collection was made towards the campaign to save the last pub in the village, the Crown Inn.

It closed its doors on October 29 last year.

The Northwold and Whittington Community Benefit Society hope to raise £300,000 to buy the pub, which has been listed as an asset of community value by West Norfolk council.

The lanterns are lit in Northwold. Picture: Ian BurtThe lanterns are lit in Northwold. Picture: Ian Burt

Mr Anderson, who is on the steering group, said: “The aim is if we can raise the funds by the middle of this year and try to get the pub reopened ready for Plough Monday.

“That is a bit ambitious but that is the hope.”

The Plough Monday celebrations in Northwold. Picture: Ian BurtThe Plough Monday celebrations in Northwold. Picture: Ian Burt

The Plough Monday celebrations in Northwold. Picture: Ian BurtThe Plough Monday celebrations in Northwold. Picture: Ian Burt

The Plough Monday celebrations in Northwold. Picture: Ian BurtThe Plough Monday celebrations in Northwold. Picture: Ian Burt

Plough Monday is an East Anglian tradition that dates back hundreds of years. Picture: Ian BurtPlough Monday is an East Anglian tradition that dates back hundreds of years. Picture: Ian Burt

Plough Monday is an East Anglian tradition that dates back hundreds of years. Picture: Ian BurtPlough Monday is an East Anglian tradition that dates back hundreds of years. Picture: Ian Burt

The Plough is blessed outside St Andrews Church in Northwold. Picture: Ian BurtThe Plough is blessed outside St Andrews Church in Northwold. Picture: Ian Burt

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