Thaxted Wassail ceremony attracts 100 people

Little Macie Wood - age 2 1/2 with her mum Vikki and dad Matthew with their pots and pans with which

Little Macie Wood - age 2 1/2 with her mum Vikki and dad Matthew with their pots and pans with which to make 'lots of noise' It was their first time to join in the Wassailing which was just right for Thaxted born and bred Matthew, who is also a member of Thaxted Morris. - Credit: Celia Bartlett

A Wassail in Thaxted, a pagan ceremony to bless apple trees so they bear good fruit, was attended by about 100 people on Saturday evening.

The event took place in the Conservation Garden in Margaret Street where there is a mixed orchard of apple, pear, quince, mulberry and cherry trees. The garden, about a third of an acre, was once the kitchen garden of Clarence House, a large, Queen Anne building. The garden is now owned by the parish council and being restored by volunteers.

Annie Harding, vice chairman of the Conservation Garden Committee said: “It’s an event where you bless the trees and make a lot of noise to ward off the evil spirits. People came along and banged saucepan lids and we also had six musicians from Thaxted Morris and a dance band. We held the event early in the evening so the children could join in and we lit the garden with strings of lights and tea lights. We had mulled cider and spiced apple juice.

“It was very cold but it was dry and the garden looked very pretty.”

Present at the ceremony, dressed in leaves was Ken Baker who lived in Thaxted for 28 years and is a custodian of the Guildhall, as well as Alison Howells, chairman of the Conservation Garden Committee.

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Mrs Harding said: “We had a lot of volunteers to get the garden ready and serve the drink and then on the Sunday morning, they came back to clear away. This is the second year we have held a wassail and we hope it will become an annual event.” Thaxted’s Conservation Garden is open weekends from Easter to September.

But does the wassail work? Was there a good apple crop last year? Mrs Harding said: “We had an absolutely super crop and some of the apple cake we ate on Saturday night was made from last year’s crop.”

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