This year’s Limpsfield Community Orchard Wassail party was yet another sparkling success with over 150 people coming along to join in our fruity festivities and one couple even using the special occasion to get engaged!
The evening kicked off at the Royal British Legion, Grub Street for a pre-procession drink, distribution of torches and an explanation of the event, delivered brilliantly as ever by Wassail Master Andrew Claringbull and his team.
Accompanied by the North Downs Drummers, with lots of very pretty lights hung along the Orchard trail throughout the woodland and with torches aloft, the procession was relaxed and made its way to the orchards at a safe and stately pace, so that the very many children could see and understand the ceremony.
Thanks to an unseasonably balmy evening, and despite the recent rain, we managed to light the fire having built the fire with previously collected dry wood and hundreds of dried fir cones. As in previous years, the bonfire was masterminded by Ian Green who kept it burning throughout the evening, along with his very able assistant, Jasper Claringbull.
Our King Tree was lit up and dressed with toast, salt and apple to ensure a good harvest and with much singing and noise – bells rattles saucepans and of course the drummers, we performed the passing of the Wassail bowl with hot spicy cider and the traditional WAES HAEL toast.
Then it was back to the bonfire for more cider, sausages (hot dogs) and apple cake, plus of course lots more drumming around the fire.
What a fantastic night it was, with the skies staying clear and very little wind which helped keep our torches alight. It all conspired to provide a warm, colourful, fun and also romantic setting – for one couple at least (part of the North Downs Drummers) – who got engaged by the King Tree! Congratulations from us all!
We are extremely grateful for all donations received on the night, which will help us improve the much-needed deer guards and support systems for the trees.
Helen Ellson & Rosemary Buchan, Limpsfield Community Orchard.
PHOTOS: DAVID GROVER