Following the picturesque entrance of mounted horsemen on the Square, Higham Ferrers, last night (Friday) a girl's voice recited to a crowd of 2,000 people the words of “Sherwood in the Twilight,” the prologue to “Under the Greenwood Tree,” a musical masquerade arranged by the Carnival committee as a preliminary to the borough's celebrated Market Day.
Although it rained for hours before the commencement, the skies cleared for this charming pageantry amid the fairy lights hung from the trees.
The Mayor (Ald. H R Patenall) mounted the platform and in novel terms received Robin Hood, Maid Marion and a hundred Sherwood foresters.
“All mayors and this Borough swear their allegiance to the King,” he said “and therefore it is a great risk and peril to my townspeople if I permit you, who are outlawed by the State, to enter the town without force of arms. You are fortunate, insomuch that your arrival here coincides with our annual Hospital Carnival Fete, but I must remind you that there is a ransom on your heads of £800, and that ransom my townspeople will claim unless you pledge yourselves with all your merry men, to assist us to collect a like amount during your stay.
'Maid Marion & Robin Hood'
“You are well versed in the art of commanding both money and goods, so if you exercise that art in a peaceful manner amongst us I will extend to you and your followers safety, and, with it, all the rights and freedom of the Borough until Saturday evening at sun-down. Hand out!”
“On these terms of truce, I welcome you, Robin Hood, Marion and your men, and pray that your visit will be a happy and peaceful one, and I now invite you to put my townspeople in a happy state of mind by song and mirth.”
Promise to Change Their Methods
In reply, pretty Marion said: “On behalf of Robin Hood, his faithful followers and myself, I thank you for your welcome. It is indeed generous of you to allow we who are proclaimed outlaws to come amongst you tonight in safety.
“You have said that there is a price offered for our heads. May the sum raised for the Hospital equal that.”
“We may be outlaws but we are free men, not held in bondage by sickness and pain, and Robin Hood, whose chief business in life is to assist those who need aid, has come tonight to assist you in raising funds to help the hospital in its great work of giving freedom from pain to all sufferers. We have been warned by you to avoid our usual methods of extracting money from your pockets; bold as my Robin may be, he dare not attempt a hold-up right under your worthy sheriff's nose. Therefore my friends, give tonight to help the hospital and give generously.”
The carnival was staged in the middle of the Square under the big trees, and Maid Marion, whose part was ably played by Miss Marie Bailey, Robin Hood (Mr Eric Sucliffe), and the merry men, attired in the “Greenwood” costume, presented a picturesque sight.
There were a hundred performers and all did splendidly.
The programme consisted of solos, choruses, and an extract from “Midsummer Night's Dream” presented by the Misses V Craxford, G Woods, and B Woods, Mr S Seamarks and Mr Payne.
Morris dances, sword dances and country dances were given by the Methodist Girls' Brigade and the Guides.