Plough Monday - an ancient Quorn custom
Loughborough Echo - 15th January 1960
Twenty or so years ago, Plough Monday was observed in the country districts around Loughborough and particularly at Shepshed. Here the youngsters observed Plough Monday by blacking their faces, dressing in their brothers' or sisters' garments, or wearing their own clothes inside out. They then visited the various houses in the town with the time-honoured formula "Please can you remember the old Moll" and either sang or recited when they were welcomed. Plough Monday is the first Monday after Twelfth Day. It was customary many years ago for farm labourers to draw a plough from door to door of the parish and solicit "plough money" to spend on a frolic. The following doggerel was sung in Leicestershire villages on Plough Monday and 25 years ago was heard at Quorn: -
Plough Monday night
Starts shine bright.
Two little angels
Dressed in white.
Can you eat a biscuit?
Can you smoke a pipe?
Can you go a'hunting
At 10 o'clock at night?
Hole in my stocking,
Hole in my shoe,
Please can you give me
A penny or two?
If you haven't got a penny
A ha'penny will do
If you haven't got a ha'penny
God bless you!
Here is Thomas Dexter's recollection of Plough Monday in Quorn from the 1890s:
"Another old custom was observed on Plough Monday which I think was the second Monday in January when small groups of men would dress themselves up a bit and perhaps black their faces and armed with a blown up bladder on a string attached to a stick would punish anyone unlucky enough to cross them by beating them with the bladder. Various other tricks were resorted to as when they invaded a small hosiery factory and endeavoured to kiss all the girls and the middle-aged manageress. Drinks were claimed from likely victims."
Plough Monday is still celebrated in parts of Leicestershire, in particular with the Hinckley Plough Bullockers who, on the first Monday after Twelfth Night parade their decorated plough throughout the town and surrounding villages:
"Higham on the Hill, Stoke in the Vale, Wyken for Buttermilk, Hinckley for Ale"
Richard Fowlkes, Elmsthorpe 1811