Enjoy Feasting, New Year’s gift giving, the 'Lord of Misrule' and nonsensical silliness in Milton Keynes

The Elizabethan’s celebrated Christmastide, forty whole days of Christmas, with only passing reference to religion - they certainly knew how to party in style.

Preparations for festivities would begin on Halloween with the election of the Lord of Misrule. Tudor turkeys would begin their long walk from Norfolk to the London Christmas dinner table in August.

A swan or peacock, carefully cooked then sewn back in to its feathered finery (yes, complete with head and tail), usually took centre table, although these were reserved strictly for the nobility. The cost was extortionate, and contemporary cooks tell us to remove the mouldy bits and carry on eating!

On Sunday (November 5) The Elizabethan Winter's Tale is being hosted at the Westbury Arts Centre, with Mr Simpson's Little Consort leading the music.

This is a candlelit performance with mulled cider and Elizabethan sweetmeats. Readings about the Elizabethan winter and Christmastide celebrations are framed with the sublime music of William Byrd, William Cobbold and Anthony Holborne.

Our audience are invited to bring a rug for warmth and a be-ribboned cup to share the Wassail for the crowning of the King or Queen of the Bean!

The award winning historic performance group  are delighted to be returning to Wesbury Arts Centre for this performance which marks the launch of their residency.

"We are busy planning a series of musical workshops for all ages in collaboration with the Arts Centre as well as more of our historic performances, which we liken to Lucy Worsley’s TV programmes, exploring the fascinating aspects of social history...or do I mean Horrible Histories?" they said.

Sue Snell, the group’s director, has a long association with Milton Keynes: “My parents moved here fifty years ago, so we were some of the first residents of the new city. I began school at Church Green Road infants and moved to Abbeys when it first opened. I had a wonderful, inspiring music teacher at Abbeys who encouraged us all to apply for a scholarship at what was the North Bucks Music Centre and is now the Milton Keynes Music Service. I still work part time with the music service as a curriculum teacher. I think our roots are important, and it means a lot to have this residency in my home city. "

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