Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Rochester Sweeps Festival

Mrs F and yours truly had the chance to wander along to the Rochester Sweeps Festival on Bank Holiday Monday.  The Sweeps actually spans the entire three days of the May Day bank holiday and has to be one of the best festivals in the South East - if not all England!

The history is that historically the sweeps - the young boys who climbed the Victorian chimneys to clean them out - were given May Day off as a holiday.  They combined this with an old tradition of the Jack o' the Green procession and Maypole dancing and used to parade through Rochester.  Not surprisingly it died out as the use of boys was outlawed.  But some 30 years ago a local guy decided to revive it and it's grown to be a huge gathering of Morris dancers who walk up and down the High Street picking pitches to dance in.  There is a huge amount of music about at outdoor stages and the pubs in and around the city centre.

We could only get down for Monday and were planning on seeing my good friends The Wax Collector brightening up the lunchtime at The Eagle.  Sadly though they'd had to cancel at the last minute due to illness in the band - Get well soon Nick!   Mrs F and I wandered along the High Street in glorious sunshine watching a few Morris dances and into the Castle Gardens where we had a picnic listening to the Folk Rock of Bounty Hounds and thoroughly enjoyed them.

A wander back through the high street led us to The Man of Kent to see Rosie Eade and her band play.  Rosie is one of my favourite regulars at the Sweeps having discovered her on a stage in a car park a few years back.  Steve Matthews who plays mandolin on many of the songs is simply one of the best mandolin players around in my humble opinion.


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