Everyone likes a good wassail surely?

Well-known North Devon folk singer and story teller Martin Babb and the landlady of The Bell Inn, Chittlehampton,  Lynn Jones,  performing the wassail ceremony at the oldest tree in the orchard. Picture: Philip DallingWell-known North Devon folk singer and story teller Martin Babb and the landlady of The Bell Inn, Chittlehampton, Lynn Jones, performing the wassail ceremony at the oldest tree in the orchard. Picture: Philip Dalling

The ancient West Country tradition of Wassailing will be performed at orchards across North Devon this week.

An orchard at The Bell, Chittlehampton, was the scene yesterday evening (Monday) of a wassail, an old West Country custom carried out annually as close as possible to January 17, Old Twelfth Night.

Those taking part in the ceremony walk in procession to the orchard, playing traditional music and singing songs in praise of cider.

Toast soaked in cider is attached to the branches of the tree and cider poured into the roots to celebrate the spirits of the orchard and to encourage a good crop of apples for cider later in the year.

Join the wassailing at Ostlers Cider Mill on Saturday, January 19. Picture: Barbara Fryer.Join the wassailing at Ostlers Cider Mill on Saturday, January 19. Picture: Barbara Fryer.

At Ostlers Cider Mill near Goodleigh the ceremony will take place in the orchards on Saturday (January 19) at 7pm.

It will be led by celebrant and minister Nixie James-Scott who will speak about the origins of the wassail and invite the 'wassail queen' to place cider soaked toast in the branches of one of the trees.

A shotgun will also be fired in the air and guests will make loud noises and bang pots and pans to ensure the trees wake up from winter and to scare off evil spirits to help produce a good harvest of apples in the autumn.

There is more wassailing on Sunday (January 20) at Lagoon View Community Orchard at West Yelland from 2pm. Borderline Morris will be in attendance and all are welcome, with visitors urged to bring noise makers to help scare away the bad spirits. Entry is free but donations are welcome. For more information call 01271 860918.

* Going a-wassailing? Email your pictures to newsdesk@northdevongazette.co.uk .