Matthew Applegate, reliable and deeply wonderful visitor services manager at Barrington Court, looking for his "front door keysh... hic!" in his Wassail bowl.
The previous few years, the Wassail at Barrington Court had suffered at the hands of the elements. Strong winds, heavy rain and piercing cold seemed to have been the common denominator. Matthew Applegate, usually the event organiser as well as being the most criminally undervalued Visitor Services Manager in the entire National Trust, was having trouble for this year's event with getting "acts" to come along. In previous years a samba drumming band had been one of the most popular turns, but they were not available this year and so it just seemed that a big public event was not in the offing. It was decided instead to have a private Wassail at Barrington Court, with entry by invitation only. However, the Langport Mummers group which appears every year had other ideas, and put the Wassail show on their official posters and this had garnered a lot of public interest, so it was therefore decided that all those invited should come, and if any members of the public turned up, well the more the merrier!
As it was there was quite a good turn out anyway, mostly familiar figures seen at the Court house throughout the year and at previous Wassails. It was an absolute delight to see Sarah Kennedy there (no, not the former early morning slurring-voiced BBC Radio 2 turps nudging presenter but the close friend of Barrington Court's pommellier, Rachel Brewer - who is currently away on holiday in Thailand hence no appearance by her and her other half Anthony) and we spent most of the evening almost huddled together against the cold. It was quite icy, but the hot mulled cider certainly helped matters.
Well we had the usual Wassail nonsense, a few carols, a poem by yours truly, The Langport Mummers and their play, the procession to the King cider tree, the offering of toast and cider to the tree, and then the firing of guns to scare away evil spirits. Wonderful stuff. If you have never experienced a proper Wassail then mark January 17th 2013 in your diary and get down to Barrington Court, but don't forget a torch and lots of thermal underwear. It can be bitter.
On the drive home various fire engines came roaring past me on their way to what seemed to be a nasty car crash on the back roads near Shepton Beauchamp - I hope no one from the Wassail was involved. Tomorrow I am off to Blandford Camp and a Henry day at Downlands School - looking forward to it!