Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Carshalton Straw Jack, 2017

Since 2008 a Straw Jack – a man inside a frame covered in small sheathes of wheat (Triticum aestivum) – has processed around Carshalton, in the London Borough of Sutton, on a Saturday early in September each year.  In 2017 this was 2 September.

Starting at about mid-day the Jack visits six pubs in the area, finishing at The Hope at about 5 p.m.  Later, at nightfall, the Jack is burnt, but before this is done people are invited to take pieces of straw ‘for luck’.  On his journey he is accompanied by drummers and other musicians (but no morris dancers).  Jack is said to celebrate the end of the harvest, and some of the participants seem to genuinely believe that they were taking part in an authentic pagan custom.  It is unlikely that any wheat has been harvested in Carshalton for more than a century.

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