The communities of the Meon Valley re-created their Saxon heritage through an exciting Yuletide (Saxon Christmas & New Year) celebration on Saturday December 7th 2013
The service liturgy, carols and songs of the Saxon Yuletide celebration are available to read, download and enjoy from these links; they offer wonderful insights into our heritage and special memories of this awesome celebration… each are two pages long
About 150 people of all ages gathered in torchlight at the Saxon Church in Corhampton for an old English liturgy and traditional carol service.
The new ‘off the wall’ community choir led the carol singing whilst Reverend Stuart Holt led the Meonwara (‘people of the Meon’) in the recital of the Lord’s Prayer in Old English, taking us back 1000 years to the 11th Century when the church was built.
The service at Corhampton church was interrupted by an agitated band of Saxon warriors of the Herigeas Hundas tribe (our Saxon re-enactment partners) summoning the community to the Yuletide feast in the neighbouring village of Meonstoke. The community, led by the warriors, people waving flags representing the ancient kingdoms of Saxon England, and warrior children (wearing Saxon helmets) processed across the A32 singing ‘The Holly and the Ivy’ and the ‘Saxon hokey cokey’. Passing the Bucks Head pub the procession arrived at the new community heritage centre of St Andrew’s Church, Meonstoke where they were greeted by Saxon princesses and warriors serving wassail (welcoming) drinks and a Saxon feast.
The Little Machine (“The most brilliant music and poetry band I’ve seen…” ; Poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy) entertained the community with a number of traditional poems set to ballad music. The highlight was extracts from the epic Saxon poem Beowulf. This was brought to life by the re-enactment of the fierce Dragon (played by children of the villages) in a fight to the death with Beowulf, the Saxon hero of the poem. Whilst the Herigeas Hundas warriors gave Beowulf a hero’s funeral, the assembled community recited a verse from Beowulf ‘mourning the great Lord’.
Little Machine led the community in more traditional carols including “Here we come a-Wassailing” and ending with ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’
It was an awesome community event celebrating our Saxon heritage in a very special way. Great fun was had by all, as the following spontaneous feedback shows
“I loved the laid-back, participative feeling especially the Saxon hokey cokey – my kind of church service!. We are still all talking about it”
“What a fantastic episode in community life!. The arrival of the armoured Saxon Warriors at Corhampton Church was a real mediaeval shock – rape, pillage, church desecration or what?. The band was excellent, I’m always a bit tearful with Tennyson’s ‘Ulysses’.”
“… and people simply loved the occasion”
“We had a ball; what a wonderful evening; great fun to sing and feel part of the whole celebration.”
“A wonderful and memorable evening. The boys and I are very lucky to have special memories like this for our community”
“Wonderful for all ages”
Note: Saxon Yuletide is an event organised by ‘The Friends of Corhampton Saxon Church’ and volunteers in the villages of the Meon Valley .
To learn more about the origins of Yuletide see Yuletide (Wikipedia)
The ‘Saxons in the Meon Valley’ heritage programme is inspired by the 1000 year heritage of the Saxon church at Corhampton. It is supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Yuletide also received a grant from Winchester Council’s ‘active community’ programme and was supported by the Southern Cooperative stores at Denmead and Winchester.
The neighbourhood police team and volunteer stewards ensured the safety of the community as they crossed the busy A32.
For more information see: www.saxonsinthemeonvalley.org.uk or contact
Peter O’Sullivan, facilitator for the Saxons in the Meon Valley community programme – TPeterOSullivan@hotmail.com