Hurworth villagers revive old custom to ensure a fruitful New Year

Hurworth villagers revive old custom to ensure a fruitful New Year

Villagers revive an ancient winter tradition to ensure the prosperity of a thriving community plantation.

Members of the environmental group Eco People in Croft and Hurworth (EPICH) are inviting villagers to participate in a traditional “wassailing” apple orchard.

Pat Simpson, President of EPICH, said: “The purpose of wassail is to awaken the orchard, to wish it good health, to scare away all potential evil spirits and to invite the robins in because they are the guardians of the orchard.

“We’re bringing wassailing back now because this orchard has been standing here for twelve years and a lot of people pass by and may not be aware that it’s here, so this is a great way to show them what they have right outside. the door while having some fun! ”

Wassailing – from the Old Norse ‘ves heill’, which means ‘to be in good health’ – also involves pouring apple juice on the roots of the trees and hanging toast in the branches. In ancient times, it was believed that these actions helped to ensure a plentiful harvest of apples the following summer.

The Northern Echo: Pat Simpson hangs toast from the trees to encourage redheads into the orchard.  Photo: Chris Barron

The Hurworth Community Orchard was planted by volunteers in 2010 thanks to a grant from the Durham County Community Fund on the grounds of the Hurworth Grange Community Center adjacent to the Miniature Railroad.

It is now maintained by EPICH volunteers, who receive support and funding from the Hurworth Parish Council and the Tees Valley Nature Partnership. The trees grow apples, damsons, pears, plums and quince, and EPICH hopes that visitors will help themselves to the ripe fruit later in the year.

Local resident Ken Pattison was one of the volunteers who helped plant the orchard and who continues to help maintain it. He said: “It is very gratifying to look at the orchard now and see how far it has come. It is a great community thing and we really hope that people realize the benefit of it.”

During the boat ride, a chorus of the traditional song in the orchard will be sung, led by the choir No Added Sugar, and there will be a toast to the orchard with hot spicy apple juice and apple pies – provided by EPICH.

The Northern Echo: EPICH volunteers prepare the orchard prior to sailing: (Left to right, Pat Simpson, Judith Redfern, Lyn Wylie and Ken Pattison. Photo: Chris Barron

Villagers are encouraged to bring a torch and something noisy – such as pots and pans to fold or instruments to play on. They are asked to meet at The Coffee Pot in Hurworth Grange on Old Twelfth Night: Monday, January 17 at. 16:30.

The coffee pot will also be open and serve a variety of hot food and drinks.

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