Cider celebrations at wassails in Brent Knoll and Rooksbridge

This is The West Country: Members of Burnham United Football Club attended the wassail in Brent Knoll. Members of Burnham United Football Club attended the wassail in Brent Knoll.

CIDER drinkers across Burnham gathered in the pouring rain around apple trees in waterlogged orchards to watch a young girl place soggy toast in trees.

It was all part of the old traditional Somerset tradition of wassailing, with two separate events being held in Brent Knoll and in Rooksbridge.

In Brent Knoll on Saturday, people watched the wassail queen Ellie dip toast in cider and place it in the trees as men fired shotguns into the air to scare away the evil spirits.

The event was held by West Croft Cider and featured belly dancers, freshly baked pizzas, pork rolls, ploughman’s bread and cheese, and, of course, a lot of cider.

In Rooksbridge, over 200 people gathered on the same day at Millwhites Cider farm for more cider drinking and general wassailing, and more people show up every year.

Tim Nickolls, from the Campaign for Real Ale, was in Rooksbridge for the event.

He said: “Two years ago I took eight people from Weston to here in a large taxi; the next year we had 16 travelling in a minibus; this year, 41 people joined me.

“Lots of people have never experienced anything quite like it. We have lots of friends who have come who have never been before, despite it being a Somerset tradition.

“Everyone who comes loves it so we always get more people next year.”

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