Pilgrim Morris Men welcome in the summer in style
Guildford’s Summer Games are first recorded in the early 16th Century and the record of the Court Leet held at the Guildhall in 1611 refers to ‘the Sommer Pole beinge found by his longe standinge over againste the parish church of St Mary in Guldeforde‘
The festival is celebrated by a procession led by the Summer Court to Abbot’s Hospital at the top of the High Street where, at the behest of the Summer Court, ‘games’ in the form of Morris dancing are provided for the entertainment of the Court and assembled multitudes. The Summerpole is then borne to the castle green and erected where there is more dancing and merriment until the Court retires for lunch. A second session in the afternoon concludes with the Summerpole being taken down for another year.
The Summerpole Procession consists of:
Sword Bearer: to clear the way
The Summer Court: The Queen (and/or King), Princes, Princesses;
Barker: loitering alongside with his fertility cake;
The Garland: a wreath of spring shoots to welcome the summer;
The Summerpole borne in procession by Guildford’s own Pilgrim Morris Men;
The Entertainment: Pilgrim Morris Men and their invited guests;
Jack in the Green…somewhere within all this. Too old to describe!
Sadly Summerpole could not take place in its usual format in 2020, happily festivities were still able to take place, albeit in a slightly amended format. Check out our exclusive coverage of the event. The tradition is unbroken.