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A-wassailing We Did Go!

Mary Arden's Farm may be closed for the winter but we still like to keep Tudor traditions alive.

Samantha Gull

In true Tudor spirit, on a typically wet and dismal Twelfth Night here at Mary Arden's Farm we all donned woolly hats and wellies to go wassailing in the orchard!

There are many different variations of a wassail but the general purpose is the same: to ensure the well-being of your fruit trees by drinking to their health and making a lot of noise to frighten away evil spirits.

Offering a gift to the tree spirits

We toasted the good health of the orchard with lambswool, a warming drink made from ale, apple and spices, so-called because the frothy top looks like wool.  We then proceeded to make as much noise as possible, singing traditional wassail songs, banging drums, shaking tambourines, and generally making a racket to make sure no evil spirits remained lurking in the orchard.  Each tree received a libation of lambswool over its roots and a slice of bread placed in its branches as a gift to the tree spirits. 

Despite the drizzle, a good time was had by all, but we will have to wait until the apple harvest this autumn to see if our efforts have been successful...

Mistress Sarah’s Lambswool Recipe:

2 pints ale or cider
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground ginger
½ jar apple sauce or equivalent amount of apple cooked down to a puree
Sugar to taste

Add all of the ingredients to a large pan and heat gently for 30 mins until warmed through and frothy.


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