Fiery start to year of celebrations

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THE BROADWOOD Men’s 40th year celebrations kicked off in a fiery fashion with the annual torchlit procession and apple wassailing at Maplehurst.

The event, on January 6, was 40 years to the day after the side was named. The evening started with a display of the English Morris by ‘Horsham’s favourite Morris side since 1972’, together with a display by its sister side, Magog Morris, outside the White Horse.

Keith Haynes, squire of the Broadwood Men, said: “We followed this with a torchlit procession from the pub to John Batcheldor’s cider orchard. Did our dragon light the torches with his fiery breath? Samples of the cider were on hand for all to try, and then we reached the main business of the evening, the apple wassailing.

“Having selected a suitable tree, the Broadwood Men bashed the trunk with sticks to drive out any evil spirits lurking within. Cider was then poured over the roots to enrich the soil and ensure a good crop in the coming year.

“Next, toast soaked in cider was hung in the branches of the tree to feed the robins, who will carry off any remaining bad spirits.’’

Traditional verse was recited, followed by as much noise as possible, from such things as hooters, party poppers and football rattles, concluding with the traditional Wassail Song

Keith added: “Once the Wassailing was over, we returned to the pub. We had a cake to mark our 40th year, decorated with the Broadwood badge, and made by one of the Morris men’s wives, Caroline Thomas. The cake was ceremonially cut by Harry Mousdell, a founder member of The Broadwood Men, with one of the longswords used in the dancing.

Three other founder members were present - Martyn Wyndham-Read, Jim Farr, and John Dewdney.

The next event is an Open Evening at the Holbrook Club, North Heath Lane, Horsham, on Thursday January 19, starting at 7.30pm.

Contact 01403 258831 or for more info.