Watch Wassail at Steyning Community Orchard, the best yet

More than 150 people joined in the ancient ritual to wake up the fruit trees as Steyning Community Orchard held its fifth Wassail.

Organisers said it was the best yet, with the wonderful Mythago Morris once again leading the proceedings, also known as Apple Howling in Sussex.

Mythago Morris dancing for the annual Steyning Wassail

Mythago Morris dancing for the annual Steyning Wassail

More pictures:Wonderful Wassail at Steyning Community Orchard is best yet

Bob Platt, from Steyning Community Orchard, said: "It all went very well on the night, with a record turnout, approaching 200.

"We started at Steyning Cricket Club with the Mythago Morris side leading the ceremonies and providing the outdoor entertainment, starting with a series of dances accompanied by their band of fiddle, guitar, accordian players and drummers. Whenever the word 'Wassail' was heard, the crowd responded with a loud cry of 'Drink Hael'.

"After they had performed a series of dances, we prepared for the ceremony of blessing the trees. Two Mythago dancers presented a basket of toast and a bowl of cider and led us across the Memorial Playing Field to the community orchard, where one of the trees had been prepared with bunting and lights.

"Pieces of toast were dunked in cider and then hung from the tree on pieces of string.

"We then formed a circle around the tree and Mythago led us in a series of chants, and a song and a dance around the tree.

"In order to wake up the tree form its winter slumber and frighten off any evil spirits, we were encouraged to make as much noise as possible and some people had brought sticks, pots and pans and bells to do just that.

"We ended the ceremony by running off into the night yelling and screaming. We had all quietened down again by the time that we got back to Steyning Cricket Club, where Ronnie Reed and helpers had hot soup ready for everyone."

Entertainment in the cricket club was provided by Teresa Newnham on accordion, Simon buck on fiddle and banjo, Maurice Sherlock on guitar and Simon Zec on bass.

Mr Platt added: "It was a great evening and we look forward to the apple season to see if it worked!"

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