Rude words up a maypole in Fenton

REED,  Records of Early English Drama,  is a longstanding research project which seeks to publish the surviving records of drama, secular music, and other popular entertainment

in England from the Middle Ages until 1642, when the Puritans closed the London theatres.  The volume for Staffordshire has just been published online at Dr Nigel Tringham, the editor of the Victoria History of Staffordshire, and a colleague here at Keele, is thanked in the acknowledgements.

It is well worth browsing, using the interactive map. In the mid-thirteenth century annals of Burton abbey, for example,  the report of an enquiry into the monastic life poses an eternal question: “Whether … food can be given to entertainers because they are poor, not because they are entertainers; and their plays should not be seen or heard, or allowed to be performed before the abbot or the monks.”  Did the monks secretly watch the plays, but mask their ticket purchase in the guise of charity?

In 1605 William Johnson of Fenton was indicted for climbing up the May Pole and  posting “verie fowle & filthie matter concerning dyuerse of his honest neighburs.”

I could go on …. but perhaps you should look yourself?


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