The most venerable tree in the orchard, a stately Monarch, was blessed with pieces of toast pinned to its branches. Despite the rain threatening to dampen spirits, it held off long enough for the crowds to arrive.
The children decorated sticks and plastic bottles filled with pasta shapes and buttons to bang and shake to ward off the evil spirits. Pieces of bread were toasted over a small brazier as offerings to the tree gods.
The wassail queen led a noisy procession around the trees until she reached the oldest apple tree in the orchard. Here, she was lifted high into the branches to place a piece of toasted bread as a gift to the tree spirits while an incantation was recited.
Old apple tree, we wassail thee
And hope that thou will bear
Hat-fulls, cap-fulls, 3 bushel bagfulls
And a little heap under the stair
Hip! hip! huzzah!
Sitting under the ancient Monarch everyone gathered around to hear tales of the mischievous spirits that live in the orchard from storyteller, Carol Graham.
There was no shortage of offers to help scrat and press the apples for the mulled juice that was served to keep the revellers warm.