Pilgrim Morris 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;
The Entertainment: Pilgrim Morris Men and their invited guests;
Jack in the Green: somewhere within all this. Too old to describe!
Founded in 1972, Pilgrim Morris celebrate the coming of Spring on the Saturday nearest the May Day bank holiday each year. Final preparations are now underway and we look forward to welcoming our guests: Ewell St. Mary, Green Man Sword, Jackstraws and Mayflower to our Big Day. The schedule of events for Saturday 29th April 2023 is as follows:
10:30 A.M. – the procession leaves the bottom of the High Street heading towards the Abbott’s Hospital.
11:00 A.M. til Noon – All Morris sides perform in turn on the setts outside Abbott’s Hospital and Holy Trinity Church.
12:00 – the Summerpole is processed to the Castle Green via Tunsgate Arch where the pole will be erected. More dancing on the Green.
12:30 – 14:00 P.M. – break for lunch.
14:15 til 15:45 P.M. – Pilgrim and guests will dance on the grass lawn at the foot of the wooden steps up by the Castle Keep.
15:45 til 16:00 P.M. – the pole will be taken down back at the Castle Green.