The Herga Mummers

Photo of man dressed as woman - the betsy character Who are we? Most of the time we are boring, ordinary people with real jobs. Some of us have a interest in folk traditions and keeping them going - which many people also find boring. Some of us have have a life. Either way we enjoy blacking our faces and keeping this old tradition alive. We do it for fun, to educate people about their heritage and to prevent that heritage being lost.

The Herga Mummers were formed in the early 1970's by members of the Herga Folk Club, in Harrow (Herga is the saxon name for Harrow). Originally we performed a play from Gloucestershire but quickly realised that this was ridiculous given the number of plays that were once performed on our own doorstep. Research produced scripts the Middlesex plays and these were patched together to form the Herga Play that we perform to day. Well, it saved having to decide which one to do, or to learn them all!

We have performed every Boxing Day for over 30 years and now have three of the "next generation" performing alongside their fathers. For each of those years we have started in the same pub, the Case is Altered at Eastcote, where according to one book, the Eascote mummers practiced in the 19th century. I have my doubts about this, although they would almost certainly have known and visited this pub.

Although we maintain links with the folk club the Herga Mummers are a seperate, vaguely democratic, organisation. We have an AGM about every four or five years when we elect the same Gaffer (boss) to run things until the next meeting. The membership however, can vote with their feet at any time by not turning out! These days we are scattered throughout the UK, many having escaped from the sins of the city, Photo of the Herg Mummers approaching the Vine, Stanmore although everyone has some connection with the Harrow area and at least one member still lives there! We are looking for new members from the local area.

Curremtly we have about 10 members although you will rarely see us all out at once. We need only 6 to perform the play - less with some quick and very un-subtle changing of hats.

We always need more men so if you live in the area and want to have a go do get in touch. Acting ability is very definitely not required - these plays were performed by working men and we have to be true to those origins. So far we have avoided including women in the play as the risk to British agriculture from such a change to an important fertility ritual is considered too great, especially with the growth of organic farming.