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The Master's Plough Monday Dinner
January 2017, Armourers' Hall, City of London

Feltmakers Company - Plough Monday Dinner at Armourers Hall, Jan 2017  Feltmakers Company - Plough Monday Dinner at Armourers Hall, Jan 2017

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PLOUGH MONDAY

Plough (or Plow) Monday is the first Monday after Epiphany or the first Monday after Twelfth Day and is of ancient origin. In early feudal times it marked the end of the Christmas holidays when men returned to their plough or daily work. It later became a general holiday in the fifteenth century.

On this day the ceremony of the Plough took place. It was known as the White Plough or Fond Plough, because those taking part were mummers dressed in white, and the procession was "fond" or foolish. The men who dragged the plough from door to door in the parish or village were called Plough Stots, Plough Bullocks or Jags, and solicited "Plough Money" to spend on a frolic. If the householder was stingy, they would plough up the ground in front of his door. With the Plough Jags went the Fool and the Queen of the feast (the Bessy - a man in a women's dress) who would later perform in the traditional Plough Play.

The well-known saying "God speed the plough" is an expression of good wishes for success and prosperity, and comes from the old song sung by the ploughmen.

Let the wealthy and great
Roll in spendour and state,
I envy them not, I declare it.

I eat my own lamb, my chickens and ham
I rear my own fleece and I wear it.

I have lawns, I have bowers,
I have fruits, I have flowers,
The lark is my morning alarmer,
So jolly boys now, with God speed the plough,
Good luck and success to the farmer.

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