Antrobus Soul-Cakers

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One of the very few surviving mumming play teams which have a claim to be traditional, the Soul-Cakers perform their souling play every year at Halloween and the following two weeks, around the vicinity of the village of Antrobus (Cheshire). As is usual with this type of play, the basic action is that King George and the Black Prince fight, and the latter is killed and brought back to life by a Doctor, and the last characters to enter are the Wild Horse (Dick) and his Driver. The Wild Horse is made up of a real horse's skull, painted black, mounted on a pole, held by a man bent double under a canvas cover—a construction defined as a ‘mast-horse’ (see hobby horse). The Driver's attempts to control his cavortings and misbehaviour are the highlight of the play for many of the audience. A local team is known to have performed up to the First World War, and then lapsed for a while, being revived in the late 1920s at the instigation of Major A. W. Boyd, and it has been regularly performed ever since.

Shuel, 1985: 179–80;Helm, 1981: 69–71;A. W. Boyd, A Country Parish (1951), 69–74.

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