Plympton gearing up for return of popular Midsummer Festival

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Midsummer Festival

For the last couple of years, Plympton St Maurice has been eerily quiet. No flurry of meetings, frantic gardening, choir practice or decorating the Castle Green, writes Charmian Evans. 

This year, things have changed. From June 17 to 19, the villagers will come out of hibernation, pulling together to bring back the popular ‘Midsummer Festival’ after years of COVID isolation. 

“We’re all really excited to be getting involved,” said James Heesem, one of the organisers of the festival.

“There’s no shortage of volunteers and people are glad to be able to resurrect the event, which for years has brought so much pleasure to so many.” 

Years? More like centuries. There are reports of the Lamb Feast being held hundreds of years ago. This year, carrying on the tradition, the feast will be back, and like times past will be held on the Castle Green in the shadow of the Norman castle. 

The Midsummer Festival kicks off on the Friday with a stirring choral performance by the Sir Joshua Reynolds choir at The Guildhall in Plympton at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £7 and are available on the door and include tea and biscuits. 

Go through the ancient village early on the Saturday morning and you’ll find volunteers running like ants to the Green, setting up gazebos, tables, sound systems, everything to ensure that the big event of the weekend is one for all to enjoy. 

The smell of the lamb sizzling will set juices running as volunteers split baps and fry onions in readiness for the queues of people who’ve travelled miles to enjoy the afternoon. Local support is behind the event with sausages thanks to Allison’s butchers and help from the Lyneham Inn who produced some of the food. 

Plenty of family fun at the Midsummer Festival
Plenty of family fun at the Midsummer Festival

Compere, former BBC presenter John Govier will have plenty to talk about. Drool over mouthwatering vintage cars or watch canine friends put their best paw forward in the Dog Show. Watch others throw their weight around in the Judo exhibition or trip the light fantastic in the dancing demonstrations. 

As well as charity, cake and plant stalls, this year sees the result of lockdown skills – including many craft stalls displaying creative talent. Kids aren’t forgotten – swing boats, inflatable slides, icecream and more will keep all ages amused. 

Meanwhile bands will perform, and fittingly, there’ll be a mediaeval re-enactment by Historia Normannis on the Castle Green. And if it all gets too much, simply go into the Guildhall and admire the talents and maybe even buy art from the display of the Plympton Painting Group. 

If you want to relax in a gorgeous pub garden, nip into the London Inn – who are providing all the lovely bunting that flutters along the road – where you can get a lovely cold beer served by landlord Simon Gilley. 

Sunday sees keen gardeners from miles and miles around flock to the Open Gardens. Tickets are available from The Guildhall, the bottom of George Lane or Dark Street Lane for £5, children free. The gardens are open from 2pm to 5pm. 

Open Gardens during the Festival always prove popular
Open Gardens during the Festival always prove popular

Open Gardens, supported by Otter Nurseries, gives people the chance to peek in behind the façade of the mediaeval houses, to see gardens planted in the ancient moat, mediaeval piggeries festooned with blossoms, huge walled gardens bearing vegetables and flowers – in short everything to make a gardener’s hearts sing. 

And if you’re footsore, then be sure to go for tea in the church hall. You’re guaranteed a good bit of cake and a cuppa, and time to reflect on what great entertainment the Midsummer Festival has offered.