Ancient tradition wakes up Hillfields orchard trees

AN ancient tradition was brought back to life in Hillfields Park in a colourful, musical community celebration.

Wassailing is an old English ceremony to wake up apple trees and ensure a good harvest of apples later in the year. 

Having brought the tradition to its orchard for the first time last year, volunteer-run charity Hillfields Community Garden held its second wassail on January 20.

Residents, friends and families joined Wassail king and queen Ben and Kat Everard for a ceremony banging drums and hanging toast on the trees.

It followed a performance of folk dances the Vandals of Hammerwich, British Grenadiers, Postman’s Knock and the Upton-on-Severn Stick Dance by Bristol group Pigsty Morris (pictured above) and wassail songs led by singing teacher Sorrel Wilde.

Hillfields residents joined dancers from Pigsty Morris for the Hillfields Community Garden Wassail.

Hillfields Community Garden supporters planted an orchard of 18 fruit trees at the end of 2021.

Co-founder Becca Jenkins said: “A Wassail is a ceremony which takes place in orchards across the UK – people come together to bless the apple trees, to give thanks to the trees and ensure a good harvest of apples later in the year. 

“The Wassail King and Queen led revellers on a winding path through the trees to finish off the ceremony. Drums were banged and instruments were jangled to scare away any evil spirits lurking in the trees.

“The community hung toast in the branches of the trees – this is meant to be an offering for the trees spirits, and the robins!” 

Volunteers served cakes and ‘Wassail juice’, with donations collected to help fund future community garden activities. 

For more details of the events and volunteering, visit the website

A member of Pigsty Morris with an ‘apple head’ wicker decoration