Rural – Jersey Country Life Magazine

A Wandering Wassail



The National Trust for Jersey and Jersey Heritage invite your company to join them in a ‘Wandering Wassail’ at Hamptonne and The Elms, on Saturday 16 January – a celebration of Jersey’s rich heritage of cider production.

The custom of wassailing dates back to pagan times but has enjoyed a minor resurgence in recent years. This tradition of blessing the orchard in order to receive a good harvest later in the year is a first at The Elms and Hamptonne.  Wassail (Old Norse “Ves Heil”, Old English was hál, literally ‘be you healthy’) is a beverage of hot mulled cider, traditionally drunk as an integral part of wassailing, a Medieval drinking ritual intended to ensure a good cider apple harvest the following year. The name comes from the salute ‘Waes Hail’, first used as a simple greeting.

The practice of wassailing dates back centuries in England, when, in the dead of winter, villagers would stage elaborate ceremonies in the hopes of ensuring a good cider apple harvest the following year. Some of these rituals included hanging cider-soaked toast from the apple trees, encircling the oldest tree and singing, reciting incantations, banging pots and pans, even firing shotguns. Often, a Wassail King or Queen was elected to help awaken the trees and scare away evil spirits. Then an incantation is usually recited such as:-

Stand Fast root, bear well top.

Pray good God send us a howling good crop.

Every twig, apples big,

Every bough, apples enow.

As the 2015 apple harvest was fantastic, the National Trist and Jersey Heritage hope that your assistance will be available to encourage a good crop in 2016.

So, dress up warmly, help to crown the king and queen of the Wassail, toast the orchard, raise a glass and enjoy winter. Participants are asked to bring noise makers; whistles, pots and pans or anything that makes a noise to frighten away the evil spirits!


Programme of Activity

12pm – 2pm Hamptonne Country Life Museum – free of charge


•       Crown the King and Queen of the Wassail

•       Visitor will process with The King and Queen and the Jersey Lilies to the orchard

•       Pieces of bread will be dipped in warm cider and hung on the chosen tree and participants will have a small glass to ‘toast the tree’.

•       Artisan bread and cheese will be served in the Cider barn


2.30 pm – 4.30 pm The Elms, St Mary – free of charge


•       Morris Dancing with the St Helier Morris Men

•       Procession to the orchard for wassailing of the trees and bees

•       Mummer’s Play, followed by cider and apple cake in the Pressoir and general merriment of singing and dancing!








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