Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Winter Watch: Chester, December 12th 2013

We caught up with the Winter Watch Parade in Eastgate Street: a snow man and a Father Christmas

out of scale.  Out of time, perhaps.  And what followed - the Round Heads and the Cavaliers -

were out of time too.  For the Winter Watch  stems from medieval times (1400s) before there was any question of divine rights, or friendly men in red suits and children were too busy perhaps to spare much time for snowmen.  The world was filled with strange, unknowable things back then, and in the Winter Watch Parade they come back to haunt us again.  A Gothic band, for instance

and further on, at the top of Bridge Street,  a man eating fire.

Sometimes it was hard to tell where the audience stopped and the parade began.

The parade marched down Bridge Street and then marched back up again.  Had the keys of the city passed from the Watch to the Lord Mayor by then? Was the city safe?  For this was the point of it all: a final tour to check the gates before Christmas.  Once more around the walls to check all was well.  And here comes a drummer

And here a ghostly angel and a knight in sharp focus

And here a procession of angels leading to the cross and the medieval church beyond.  St Peters occupying the same site as it would have then, when the first keys were exchanged.

Behind the angels, a dragon looking for his knight.

And then the stars and moon: those, at least, are constant,

red-clad children

and sinister dark beasts - apparent only because of the light they stole before the band at the rear.

A dash up Northgate Street and there is a chance to see it all again, and catch up with the part we missed:  the dragon's head

the snow queen

a conversation between some ice people and the master of ceremonies.

And here are Father Christmas and the snow man again, like two incongruous Christmas cake decorations brought out year after year, waiting while the rest of the parade pass into the Forum shopping centre

while the drummers play - loudly and ever more frantically

until, at last, the snowmen and Father Christmas are upended too.  Into the box with the tinsel, the lights, the dragon-heads, stars, angels and drums.  Ready for another year.


Blogger Anne S said...

That all looks like fun. Not something that would happen in Melbourne, though the Myer Emporium windows with clockwork characters always attract a big crowd.

Merry Christmas Clare.

Tue Dec 24, 11:54:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

I think the early nights help - and the cold, in an odd sort of way! Merry Christmas to you too, Anne.

Wed Dec 25, 12:37:00 pm  
Blogger aliholli said...

This looks fab, I can't believe we didn't know about it! Wow, good ol' Little Chester!

Fri Dec 27, 04:34:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Only just discovered this year myself, Ali! One of a series of December parades, apparently. No idea why I've never come across them before.

Sun Dec 29, 11:22:00 am  

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