Mummers provide a humorous take on Ripon’s rich history
Aug 1, 2023
The Wakeman Mummers

St Wilfrid celebrations brought thousands of people to Ripon’s Market Square on Saturday, but after the procession was over, one tradition featuring the city’s patron saint was still to be carried out.

Since 1986, when Ripon celebrated the 1100th anniversary of its Royal Charter granted by King Alfred the Great,  the Wakeman Mummers have, without fail, performed a short, humorous play about the history of the city as a postscript to the Wilfrid festivities.

Performed in rhyme and including music from melodeon player Roy Hardacre and a Morris dance finale, the play can be seen for the third night running this evening at 8.45 near the obelisk and facing onto Ripon Town Hall.

Jim Coulson, who wrote the words and takes the part of the Wakeman, will be joined by fellow mummers Peter Meese in the role of St Wilfrid, Andy West as King Alfred, Bellman Dave Blight and Ted Dodsworth as the Ripon Citizen.

The Morris dance finale

Mr Coulson told the Stray Ferret:

“The idea of the play is to tell, simply and with humour, the story of the granting of Ripon’s Charter in 886 AD coupled with the name of the city’s patron saint.

“The week of St Wilfrid’s Feast, which follows on from the procession, was chosen as the most appropriate time of year to perform this play.

“Because all traditions must start somewhere, we can claim that, having performed it every year since 1986 without a break, the “St Wilfrid Play” – as it is popularly known –  has now become a well-established tradition in the city.”

This evening’s performance will be the last in the short run, but those who are unable to see it can be assured the Wakeman Mummers will be back again next year.

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