21st Century, Agricultural, Museum Highlight, Museum History, On Display, Post-War, Straw Bear

The Straw Bear Plough

The plough is decorated and paraded around the town during the annual Straw Bear Festival in January.

It is accompanied by “ploughboys” in their traditional Straw Bear costume of jackets, flat caps and with blackened faces (once using soot, now facepaint) for “disguise”. Before the First World War the ploughboys would have been agricultural workers taking the chance of a last night of celebration before the hard work of breaking the winter soil started the next day, on Plough Monday – now they are usually members of the Whittlesea Straw Bear Society who fundraise and organise throughout the year to keep the festival alive.

The photograph below shows the decorated plough in front of Whittlesey Museum as it left to lead the parade at the start of Straw Bear Day 2016.