Come spring, come 1st May, come rough music and the Jack-in-the-Green: a leaf wearing London folk custom, with entourage, on a pub crawl.
The Jack-in-the-Green evolved in the seventeenth century from milk maids in huge hats and garlands parading the street for money to a man dressed as a giant hedge, the Jack, roaming the street on May Day on the scrounge for beer money.
Fowlers Troop revived the Deptford Jack-in-the-Green tradition in the early eighties and have taken their Jack around various bits of London, both south and the city, on every 1st May ever since.
Today the Jack is around nine feet tall, including garland and bouquet of white flowers ejaculating out of the top, and is accompanied by folk musicians and men and women in Edwardian, chimney sweep and other costumes. This event also brings plenty of London’s pagan community out and blinking into the sunlight.
This year it all starts at 11.30am at the Market Porter in Borough Market, scares and delights the tourists along the South Bank to the Hole in the Wall at Waterloo before crawling back via deepest Borough. The full route can be found here though timings and locations may change early on. Just listen out for folk music and look for a walking hedge.
Scott Wood. Image courtesy of Sarah Crofts.