Tuesday 7 December 1993

Father Christmas Wore Green!


More than 60 members of Warminster History Society turned out on a cold and dank December evening (yesterday, 6th December 1993) for the Christmas Social held at the Dewey Museum.

Chairman Mike Ednay promised an entertaining evening of songs and pictures, with food and drink, to ward off the winter blues.

The jollifications started with prizes for the lucky winners of the Dewey Museum's Postal Quiz, all about Warminster. Danny Howell, who compiled the quiz, told how over £250 had been raised, thanks to the many entries and the generous sponsorship of Northfield Toyota of Victoria Road, Warminster.

Colin Ball, of Northfield, presented cheques to the winners. In first place with 292 points out of a possible 300 (only three answers wrong out of 150 questions) were Mike Shorey and Sue Chinnock of Swallow Close, Warminster. They received £50.

In second place was Mrs Ann Knight, of Hillwood Lane, Warminster, with 280 points; third was Darren Willmore, of The Dene, Warminster, with 268 points; and fourth was Mrs. J. Pitcher of Prestbury Drive, Warminster, with 266 points. All received £25 cheques.

A delighted Sue Chinnock, clutching the £50 cheque, said afterwards: "Judging by the amount of time we spent on the quiz, our winnings work out at about 20p an hour, but it was a challenge and we enjoyed it."

Next, an appearance (or rather the lack of an appearance) by the Shrewton Mummers. Illness and unexpected commitments had reduced numbers to just one, namely Chris Appleby, but with the help of Peter Ash from Chitterne, a quick-witted resume of mummers and mumming plays was expounded.

The pair explained the origins of the characters portrayed in the plays, including King George, Father Christmas, the Turkish Knight and Little Johnny Jack.

"Father Christmas, prior to the time of Prince Albert," said Chris, "Was traditionally dressed in green and not today's red, and it seems that mumming plays gave way to what is now pantomime."

Peter Ash, of the Quidhampton Mummers, bravely sang two songs unaccompanied: an ancient carol and the well-known Barley Mow, giving up, amid laughter, when the words got the better of him. It was much enjoyed though.

The next turn was Colonel Leo Macey, of Warminster, who gave a background to prints he had brought along from his own private collection. He said: "All collectors will tell you the joy of collecting is sharing your spoils with others."

The subjects in his collection vary from the supposed connection of the Duke of Clarence with Jack The Ripper, to the funeral procession of Queen Elizabeth I.

Leo avidly researches the background to the prints and the artists, which leads to a lot of correspondence to and fro. He will be speaking to the Warminster History Society about his collection in a lecture booked for February 1995!

Members then enjoyed the Christmas fare (brought along by themselves), and the Museum shop was open, providing everyone with an opportunity of obtaining those last few stocking fillers.

Report by Danny Howell.