Founded in 1971, the Thameside Mummers have performed traditional Mumming Plays at fairs and festivals thoughout this fair land. They are famed for their plays; for the quality of their performance and for their thirst. Their annual performances outside Leigh’s Crooked Billet on Boxing Day are the stuff of legend, and their midsummer shows at the Leigh Folk Festival are now equally anticipated. Mummers were once found in nearly every village in England. Together with mystery and miracle plays they are survivors of folk drama. Mummers plays were originally part of the old fertility rites performed in mid-winter and the May Day festivals to bring back life to the world. They usually take the form of a combat between the hero and villain, in which the hero is killed and brought to life, often by a quack doctor. Mumming plays can be traced back at least to the middle ages and were a traditional part of Christmas at the court of Edward III, as shown in a 14th Century manuscript, now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. These plays, traditionally happening around Easter, All Saints Day and Christmas are variously known as ‘pace-egging’, ‘souling’ and ‘mumming’.