The Middlesex plays

Map of England and wales showing the location of Middlesex The County of Middlesex may or may not exist. The Royal Mail still recognise it as a postal district, it gives its name to a Cricket Club and, of course, the locals think it exists. As a County it finally ceased to be in 1965, consumed by the urban sprawl of Greater London. Originally Middlesex covered the whole North West quadrant of modern London and was once a largely rural area with many small villages.

Scanned cutting from the Harrow Gazette 1898 Some of these had a long tradion of the mummers play but by the start of the 20th century these were dying out. Fortunately the words of some plays were written down and we have scripts for the plays that were performed at Brentford, Chiswick, Eastcote, Harefield, Hillingdon, Mill Hill, Pinner, Sudbury, Turnham Green and West Drayton. There are also account of plays at Acton, Yiewsley and Hatch End (although the latter may have been the Pinner mummers on a day out). All these plays are recorded as being performed at Christmas and all had ceased by 1913.

There are other records describing the plays such as the memeories of Edwin Ware in the Pinner-in-the-vale collection at Harrow Library and of Mrs Joel from Eastcote. From such records, and the Harrow Gazette (left) we know that, in the north of the county at least, the plays had become a childrens' tradition by the end of the 19th century. In other parts of the country the plays remained a serious adult ritual and we can reasonably assume that this was originally the case in Middlesex.

As the Herga Mummers are based in the Harrow (yep, where the school is) we specialise in the plays from the north of the county. We have researched the plays and combined the available information to present a play that is typical of the area, both in words and costume.