jack is set free again – the festivities can start

May 6, 2013


A misty start to Green Man Day this year. We wandered down the front  . . . 2

. . . and passed the pier shrouded in sea fog. But then the mass of metal hit us as the roar of exhausts filled the air . . 3

. . and on to Rock a Nore where the crowds milled around innocently, made up of small groupings catching up on the local gossip as well as meeting and greeting 12 months on. (Click on the bold to see the previous 3 years posted here + more info on the why, what and the wherefore of this event). here + here + here4 wigs 4 6 7

Jack is set free from the net hut and Mad Jack’s Woman dance around him before the procession starts with Mad Jack’s Morris waving hankies, slapping each others buttocks in a manner that brings to the fore many other British eccentricities . . . 8 9 10

. . the Gay Bogies, Hannah’s Cat, The Lovely Ladies and Green Participants enter into the spirit of the occasion . . . 11

. .  many costumes  are to be admired . . .

12 figures

. .  Giant figures enter into the procession at significant stages – but don’t ask me when or why. I like the ‘shy lady’ though with her coy glance . . .

13 figures

. . the Sweeps arrive looking dark, dusty and threatening . . . . 14 sweeps 15 sweeps 17

. .  the decoration of their top hats needs a closer examination – bits of everything cobbled together. 16 sweep headress

More hats and head dresses . . . easy to see above the mellay. headress 1 headress 2 headress 3 headress4 headress 5 headress6 headress 7

After the group of dark sweeps, more colourful costumes pass by including dogs suitably attired . . . 18 colour 19 colour

. .  there’s a good deal of drumming and banging of staves and some sort of dancing – quite a lot is about thrusting at opposing partner!

20 colour 21

My favourite well dressed participant (above) – different costume every year but always recognisable. Well done again, Sir. 22

It becomes difficult to differentiate between the ‘live’ and the model . 23 courthouse 24 courthouse

In the Old Town High Street, doors and windows have been adorned . . . . 25 door 26 window

. .  it’s a tight, narrow street, so the sound wells up and the excitement created by the enthusiasm of those in the procession and the onlookers blends into a fantastic festive eruption of movement and colour. 27 28 29

The costumes can be better appreciated from the rear. 30

Some in the procession appear resolute and determined . . . . . and others want to remain incognito. 31

Some appear swashbuckling and cavalier . . .


. . and some want a rest now and then.


The sea front fills up with more metal, leather, sweat and  . . . . the sense of anorak. 34

It’s a strange occasion! The so-called modern world of the machine meets the world of myths. 35 36

It is not growing like a tree in bulk, doth make Man better be; or standing long an oak three hundred year, to fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere; A lily of a day is fairer in May, although it fall and die that night- It was the plant and flower of Light. In small proportions we just beauties see: and in short measures life may perfect be, Ben Johnson The Noble Nature

17 Responses to “jack is set free again – the festivities can start”

  1. daseger Says:

    Love it! I look forward to this post all year! Thanks Julia.

  2. Sinclair 3168 Says:

    Fantastic stuff, really out of a fairy tale. Each year I travel through this post with my mouth open. English nutters! All wonderful artwork in motion, so much care goes into each costume/hair style/vehicle etc etc. Hooray!

  3. Tom Says:

    Yes what a proud tribe. I’m more gladdened each year to know that they keep coming back together to celebrate being together through nature (and motorbikes…), as a people of tradition.

    Great post!

  4. ewix Says:

    This is so splendid and oddly unBritish and pagan and wonderful.
    Wonderful photos.
    I think there are green men in churches in Wiltshire (Devizes).
    I hate motor bikes but realise some love them.
    Thanks for the info about plants in the Cloisters.

    Excellent poem as ever.

  5. Seb Says:

    Really captures the beauty, eccentricity and otherworldliness that made the day so unique, one is tempted to think, ‘only in England’ but of course not….

  6. julia fogg Says:

    Yep, mad. 25,000+ bikes apparently!

  7. Clive Hicks-Jenkins Says:

    Oh my, what japes! That sweep pushing a pram with a dog in it (?) is truly scary!

    I looked for, but can’t see, the mask on the Jack. Did it have one this year? Just looks like leaves in your pic. I wonder whatever happened to the one I made that the Jack wore for a year or so back in… um, I think 2000. I still have a copy here (it was cast in a mould) that I see every day. It’s in the likeness of my dad.

    I haven’t been back to see the Jack released since then. One day… one day.

    • julia fogg Says:

      The mask is there Clive- I think & if I can find an image I’ll send it through. Thanks for visiting and am enjoying the work you’re doing at the moment very much.

      Julia Fogg Landscape Designer +44(0)7884437071 https://juliafoggterrain.wordpress.com

    • julia fogg Says:

      Have sent you a rather poor photo. I didn’t get close enough but one quick vision as they flashed by told me that it wasn’t yours.

      • Clive Hicks-Jenkins Says:

        Julia, thank you for the pic. No, mine didn’t stay around for long. I thought I heard that it was stolen and had to be replaced. But the first year it got an airing I was there to see it, and I have to say it was the biggest thrill. Not only to see my handiwork adorning the Jack, but that it was my late father’s likeness to boot, and I knew he would have adored that!

  8. daseger Says:

    Julia, would you mind if I reblogged this on streets of salem? I have never reblogged, and am not really a fan of the practice, but this post illustrates some of the things that I have been writing about and is oddly quite salemesque! (Plus I’m traveling and writing a book and taking over the chairmanship of my department so I need help!!!) Donna

  9. julia fogg Says:

    Please go ahead Donna and use the other related posts too. Good Luck.

  10. Nanda Says:

    Nice pics, Julia! I love to see people dressed up, wandering thru the city!

  11. […] . . .  and on the first floor, a box bed with a view out to the street. May 5th is Jack-in-the-Green day and decorations are up. A post on this will follow as usual (last years is here). […]

  12. […] ‘Finally’ is used in the title as I feel bad that this post didn’t make it on the day – very poor from the this blogger’s perspective. The alexanders are in full flower now and best to search for the young shoots  if they can be found. It’s an acquired taste but would surely have been foraged at many hundreds, maybe thousands of May Day festivals. Background information and for previous posts on this colourful extravaganza that dominates Hastings Old Town every year on May Bank Holiday. click here […]

  13. […] by the net huts where Jack will be released and burst out centre stage. For previous posts click HERE. Posts from 2010 will pop […]

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