Wassail ritual for Kenninghall orchard

Colourful characters including the Green Man and the Lord of Misrule made an appearance at a south Norfolk community orchard at the weekend for a centuries-old ritual.

The pagan festival of wassailing has been practised in the UK since the Anglo-Saxon times.

And dozens of people braved the blustery conditions on Saturday for Kenninghall's sixth Wassail event, to bless the apple and pear trees for what organisers hope will be a bountiful crop of fruit later in the year.

A Conference pear tree, donated by the Kenninghall Bell Ringers, was decorated with pieces of cider-soaked bread and apple juice was poured around the tree as part of the unusual celebration.

The ceremony was accompanied by speeches from the Green Man and the Lord of Misrule and singing and dancing from the Shelfanger Singers and Kenninghall Morris dancers.

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The ritual at the village orchard was organised by the Kenninghall Lands Trust community group, which planted the apple and pear trees eight years ago.

Organiser Anne-Marie Clark said the tradition would hopefully result in a mighty mature orchard in 20 years time.

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'This was once a cider producing area and those areas traditionally have a Wassail to wish the trees a long and fruitful life. It is something that brings the community together and it is a bit of fun,' she said.

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