Folklore and customs by Dr Peter Millington


The museums of Nottinghamshire; especially the Folk museums – the Brewhouse Yard Museum, Nottingham, Newark Millgate Museum, the Laxton Visitor Centre, Bassetlaw Museum, and the Flintham Museum – include many artefacts from the past personal, domestic, community and working life of the county. They are particularly good regarding the tools and equipment used in occupations that have either disappeared or changed radically such as in agriculture. Strictly speaking these items mostly relate to social history or folk-life, but in some cases they may be more conventionally folkloric.

Cropwell Ploughboys' Costume, 1893.

Cropwell Ploughboys' Costume, 1893.

One notable example is the Cropwell Ploughboys’ costume worn by actors of the local folk play. Belonging to the Folklore Society, it is on permanent loan to Nottingham Museums, and occasionally appears in the public exhibitions at the Nottingham Castle Museum. It now seems possible that this costume was a reconstruction made for or by the local squire’s wife Lavinia Chaworth Musters in 1893, and may have been deliberately ‘folkified’ for added ‘authenticity’. However, there is correspondence indicating that it was prepared in close consultation with one the performers, who may even have made the basic costume which Chaworth Musters then embellished.