News
Llantrisant Folk Club
Listings Pages

Archive Main Page

Mari Lwyd

Dr Price's Fire Band

Twmpath

Mick Tems and Calennig

Trade Winds

A Tale of Two Rivers

Your Feedback Home Page

The Gower Christmas Sport

Many versions of this play survive and are listed on two pages of this archive. This page holds the versions from West Gower.

GEORGE TUCKER'S TEXT


(Recorded by Mick Tems at Horton, Gower, 1976).

This, really, is for a younger generation than those with the Horse's Head. We used to go to the door, half a dozen of us, and knock at the door, and the spokesman would say:

Make room, make room, make gallant room
Make room, make room for us.
For in this room I do intend
To show some Christmas sport.
Some Christmas sport, for youth and age,
For boys and girls to walk the stage.
If you believe what I do say,
Come, Father Christmas, and clear the way.

FATHER CHRISTMAS: In comes I, old Father Christmas,
Ninety-nine years of age;
I can hop like a magpie
And light upon the stage.

TURKISH KNIGHT enters: Here comes I, a Turkish knight,
Come from Turkey land to fight.
I'll fight King George (sic) and all his men
And if he lives, I'll fight him again.

ST GEORGE: Here comes I, St George, I fought the dragon bold,
And with my sword and spear I won three crowns of gold.
To whom, to whom my challenge give?
To thee, to thee, thou Turkish knight.
Satisfaction we will have,
Pull out thy sword and fight.

("The fight, then, as I was telling you, is in the kitchen. At last one of them goes down and St George says, because it's the Turk that falls:")

ST GEORGE: Look see, look see what I have done;
Cut down this knight with two-edged sword.
Is there a doctor in the land
To cure the knight of his death wound?


("The doctor applies the little bottle to the lips, and he rises and fights but is struck down again.")

DOCTOR: Oh yes, there's a doctor to be found
To cure this deep and deadly wound.

ST GEORGE: What can you cure?

DOCTOR: I can cure the icsy, the picsy, the palsy and the gout,
If the devil's in, I can drive him out.

("So he applies the bottle to the Turkish lips and up he goes. And then, of course, they start to sing a bit and goes round carrying the hat.")

In my hand I carry my hat
To beg some money to make me fat,
Money I want and money I crave,
If you don't give me money, I'll go to my grave.

("Then they all retire, and take the hat around and sing a few carols. And of course they'd all expect to have a bit of cake and some ginger wine... that was part and parcel of it, see.")

ERIC GIBBS' TEXT


(Recorded by Mick Tems at Llangennith, Gower, 1997).
Eric's text is almost identical to George Tucker's, which was recorded 20 years before. He said: "I used to sit for hours when I was young, listening to my father telling about these old Gower customs and singing the old songs that went with them. Another one he talked about was the Gower Sport, Christmas Sport as it was known. This was put in every year at the old chapel at Pitton, now a dwelling house. Various actors performed the ritual, and it went something like this. You had the actors, you had Father Christmas and St George and a Turkish knight and a doctor. Father Christmas had his traditional white beard, St George had a sword and the Turkish knight also had a sword. The doctor had a little bag which he carried in his hand and goodness knows what he had in that altogether, bottles, bandages and goodness knows what. They used to dress up and act this part every year and they used to have great fun out of it. After knocking on the door and being invited in, one of the party comes in and announces:"

The only differences between Eric Gibbs's text and George Tucker's text are these:

FATHER CHRISTMAS: Here comes I, old Father Christmas,
I'm nine and ninety years of age...

DOCTOR enters: Here come I, a ten pound doctor,
Oh yes, oh yes, I can kill or cure.
I have a little bottle here, called ache-a-lumber-cane.
And if the Turkish knight's alive, I'll make him well and fight again.

DOCTOR: I can cute the ickety, the pickety, the palsy and the gout...

(One of the party goes round with the hat, saying:)
In my hand I carry my hat
To beg some money to make me fat,
Money I want and money I crave,
If I don't get money, I'll go to the grave.
(And then he says:)
Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat,
Please put a penny in the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny. a ha'penny will do,
If you haven't got a ha'penny, well, God bless you.

"That was the gist of Christmas Sport. Of course, there was a lot more to it. It went on for a couple of hours. Good, simple, honest fun, appreciated by young and old alike and followed by tea and cakes and rewards for attending the chapel Sunday school."


HORATIO TUCKER'S TEXT


Horatio Tucker's article My Gower, published in the Gower Society journal in 1957, contained a text which was again almost identical to George Tucker's. He says the players wore white trousers and sported ribbons in their caps, and says the play survived "in one or two villages in West Gower" until 1914. The only differences in text between George and Horatio Tucker were these:

FATHER CHRISTMAS: Here comes I, old Father Christmas.
I'm nine and ninety years of age...

TURKISH KNIGHT: I'll fight St George and all his men...

DOCTOR: Here comes I, the ten-pound doctor.
Oh, yes, oh yes, I can kill or cure.
I have a little bottle here,
They call it elecampagne,
And if the Turkish man's alive
I'll make him fight again.

DOCTOR: I can cure the ickety-pickety, the palsy and the gout...

REV J D DAVIES' TEXT

(This text appears in A History Of West Gower, written by the Rev J D Davies in 1887. Edward Laws appears to have lifted it wholesale for his 1888 book Little England Beyond Wales, which is where Sydney Rider found it some 30 years later.)

CHRISTMAS PLAY OF ST GEORGE

"The performers some with ribbons in their caps and wearing white trousers carry wooden swords in their hands. One of the party represents Father Christmas, and is habited like a very old man, with a long white beard and leaning on a staff. A doctor also forms one of the number and is dressed in some fantastic way. Two others represent St George and a Turkish knight."

(One of the party steps in and walks round the room, saying:)

Room, room, brave boys, a room.
Within this court I do resort
To show some sport.

(Having delivered this prologue, Father Christmas hobbles in, saying;)

FATHER CHRISTMAS: Here comes I, old Father Christmas,
Welcome or welcome not;
I hope old Father Christmas
Will never be forgot.

(He then goes out and the Turkish Knight enters, saying:)

TURKISH KNIGHT: Here comes I, a Turkish knight,
Come from the Turkish land to fight;
And if St George will meet me here
I'll try his courage without fear.

(Enter St George:)

ST GEORGE: Here comes I, St George,
That worthy champion bold;
And with my sword and spear
I won three crowns of gold.
I fought the dragon bold,
And brought him to the slaughter;
By that I gained fair Sabra,
The King of Egypt's daughter.

TURKISH KNIGHT: St George, I pray thee, be not so bold,
If thy blood be hot, I'll soon make it cold.

ST GEORGE: Thou Turkish knight, I pray forebear,
I'll make thee dread my sword and spear.

(They fight desperately, and the Turkish knight falls.)

ST GEORGE: I have a little bottle, they call it elecampagne,
If the man's alive, let him fight again.

(The knight rises on one knee and fights feebly, but is again struck down. The Turkish knight speaks):

TURKISH KNIGHT: Oh! pardon me, St George; oh! pardon me, I crave;
Oh! pardon me this once, and I will be thy slave.

ST GEORGE: I'll never pardon a Turkish knight,
Therefore arise and try thy might.

(The Turkish knight renews the combat, but falls again grievously hurt. St George speaks:

ST GEORGE: Is there a doctor to be found
To cure this man of his deadly wound?

DOCTOR enters: Oh! yes, there's a doctor to be found
To cure a deep and deadly wound.

St GEORGE: What can you cure?

DOCTOR: I can cure the itch, the palsy and the gout,
If the devil's in, I'll pull him out.

(The doctor then applies a magic vial to the Turkish knight's nose. He immediately gets up and goes out. One of the party goes round with a hat, and all retire).

Return to Home page

Return to Archive home page

Last updated 08 March 2010 . Copyright 1999 Celfyddydau Mari Arts.