Balsham, near Haverhill, celebrates Plough Monday, bringing in more than £3,000 for charity
Ploughmen and morris dancers again toured the village of Balsham this week as the ancient tradition of Plough Monday was celebrated.
The Ploughmen, joined by the Cambridge Morris Men, stopped at various points in the village nine miles from Haverhill, collecting donations and taking refreshments en route.
One of the organisers, Terry O’Neill said: “As ever, we’re extremely grateful to the hosts of the stops.
“This year the Balsham Ploughmen raised around £3,500 although this figure will almost certainly increase as further donations come in.
“The plan is to use these funds to work with the parish council to refurbish the Princes Memorial, commonly known in Balsham as “the bandstand”.
“Thanks to everyone who donated and for the continued support of the wonderful people of Balsham.”
The tradition was reborn in 1972 when a few Balsham locals were looking to raise funds for various local charities, particularly for the church tower fund.
And so, on a bitterly cold night in January, a newly refurbished wooden plough, six men acting as ‘horses’, a group of collectors dressed in smocks and string tied breeches, a whip-wielding squire in a top hat and a Betsy, a man dressed as a woman, toured the village calling at as many houses as they could.
They collected a grand total of £75.
Mr O’Neill added: “In 1974, the Ploughmen were joined by the Cambridge Morris Men who performed their own Plough Monday dances and provided music and song.
“This is still the basic model for Plough Monday today with the addition of some organised stops and more or less (usually less) punctual finish at one of our two wonderful village pubs, The Bell and The Black Bull.”