Spirit of summer released at Jack-in-the-Green

This year's Jack-in-the-Green festivities. Pic by Frank Copper.
This year's Jack-in-the-Green festivities. Pic by Frank Copper.

SCORES of visitors and spectators thronged to the Old Town over the weekend to see the official launch of summer – Hastings style.

The popular Jack-in-the-Green festivities culminated on Bank Holiday Monday (May 7) with a colourful procession, complete with green bogies, Morris dancers, may queens and carnival giants, which wound through the streets of Old Town before it headed up to Hastings Castle on the West Hill for the traditional slaying of the Jack and the unleashing of the spirit of Summer.

The annual event kicked off on Friday with a performance at St Mary-in-the-Castle by The Moors.

On Saturday, starting at Winkle Island on The Bourne, Morris dancers performed in front of crowds.

These included such sides as Mad Jacks Morris and Hannah’s Cat.

Saturday also saw the ceilidh at St Mary-in-the-Castle, featuring Coventry-based band Peeping Tom, as well as up and coming young ceilidh band Toothless Mary.

Local favourites Gigspanner also played in All Saints Church.

Sunday saw the Festival Celebration Church Service at All Saints Church, as well as the crowning of the Hastings May Queen for this year.

Keith Leech, chairman of the Jack-in-the Green committee, said this year’s festivities marked the 30th year of the current revival of the custom.

He said: “This year went exceptionally well despite the bad weather, which seemed to only come on when we were not doing anything.

“The crowds were fewer than last year, what with the weather keeping some people away but there seemed to be more spectators in the streets around the procession, which was fantastic.

“We could not have the craft fair on the Ladies Parlour because it was like a mud bath so it was held on the grass on the West Hill.

“The dances and concerts this year were particularly good. All the bands were of a high calibre. Venues were almost packed. It was a fantastic atmosphere.

“Let’s hope that the ‘magic’ has worked with the release of the spirit of Summer.”