SCORES of people raised a racket in Bridport’s Community Orchard to keep alive the ancient tradition of wassailing.

A warm, dry and windless afternoon, attracted at least 130 people to the orchard on Sunday, January 19, to bless the new year, and encourage a good crop of apples.

It was the sixth wassailing ceremony held at the orchard.

The purpose of wassailing is to awaken the apple trees and to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the autumn.

Wyld Morris led the music and singing and danced for the crowd who enjoyed hot cider and apple juice from Dorset Nectar.

The orchard’s own apple juice was also on offer.

Andy Jefferies led the wassailing account, with a lively and mythical retelling of the wassailing tradition.

He was accompanied by his two daughters, who have previously been wassailing queens and a bevy of young maidens who dipped bread in cider and cast it into the trees.

The assembled company of some 130 wassailers then created a huge clatter of tin lids, bugles and drums.

“That has surely frightened the evil spirits away for this year!” said Community Orchard chairman Jill Lloyd.

“The remaining cider was then enjoyed around the fire with another great storytelling by Martin Maudsley, a new resident to Bridport.

“Martin is a professional storyteller and delighted us on Apple Day last year. Thanks to him and to everyone who came and supported us.”