A local village pub
Tis a dark Friday evening in West Dorset, the cupboard is bare post Christmas and the pub is a calling. We head off to The Crown Inn, Punknowle (pronounced Punnell) for a wonderful quiet (or so we thought) evening meal. Little did we know that a Mummers play was to be performed in the pub that evening!
Ed and his brother Rob offer a really warm welcome and the food at The Crown is just splendid. You can enjoy a drink and a bite to eat whilst warming yourself in front of one of the log fires. In the kitchen Richard, the chef, and his team are working hard creating some amazingly tasty food. Where possible he uses the freshest and most local of ingredients. Vegetables are picked and delivered daily from Tamarisk Farm, a local organic farm only a mile or so away. Pheasants are provided on a weekly basis by the local shoot and succulent Dorset Longhorn beef is supplied from a farm just up the road in Little Bredy. Award winning cheese comes from Ford Farm Cheesemakers in Litton Cheney, which just a stones throw from Punknowle.
Our starter – “Godfrey’s Onion Soup” is already becoming part of local folklore. It is a flavoursome soup made from onions grown locally by a villager called “Godfrey” who enjoys a drink (or two) of cider. No prizes for guessing that along with the onions, cider is another of the “secret” ingredients that goes into creating this delightful dish.
Main course for me was the rump steak, Dorset Longhorn beef, which in my opinion is some of the finest beef you will find. My wife enjoyed a fabulous fresh, beer battered fish and chips.
Pudding was to die for: chocolate orange heaven! I’ll let the photo speak for itself. Needless to say there was none left!
The quiet evening out suddenly metamorphosed with the arrival of the Mummers!
Performed in villages around the country for hundreds of years. Mummers plays were devised so that they could be performed quickly at a landowner, or wealthy person’s house. The main aim being to solicit money, drink or food, in return for entertainment. It is believed that they were originally performed by farm workers through the cold dark winter months, when there was not as much work to do on the land.
Mummers plays usually take the form of a combat between the hero (usually St George) and villain (a Turkish Knight or Moor). The hero is killed, but then is brought to life, often by a quack doctor. Unusually the villain survives! The traditional dress of the warriors hero is usually a soldier’s uniform, decked with ribbons, streamers and sashes. The head-dress was in the form of a helmet with ribbons falling to mask the face completely from view. Often faces were blackened to conceal identities. It was highly entertaining and great fun.
It was a great end to another fabulous evening followed by a gentle stroll home along moonlit, country lanes…….