Over a weekend in May, the mayhem included sea shanties, folk music, communal singing, percussion bands, theatre and community performance. Located all around Watchet, from East Quay to the Visitor Centre, High Street, Esplanade and back, performances and pop-ups appeared all around the town attended by thousands of townsfolk and visitors. The weekend culminated in a participatory extravaganza of performance from Wassail Theatre Company called HOLY COW! on Sunday evening at high tide.
Specially written for Watchet by Jac Husebo, HOLY COW! was inspired by the story of St. Decuman, Watchet's now-beloved patron saint, and his cow. Famously, St Decuman travelled from Wales intent on converting the heathens of Watchet... (SPOILER: he wasn't well received and lost his head in the process!). But this isn’t our story. Our retelling of this local legend saw Decuman and his cow lose each other in the fabled Bristol Triangle, each being propelled on a separate journey through time and Watchet’s rich history. Audiences witnessed pirates and poets, landowners and landlubbers, seafarers and shantymen, as our two lost souls worked their way through 1,316 years to find each other again. You can view a film about the making of Holy Cow! below.
This weekend of nautical madness and sea-faring silliness aimed to keep our stories of Watchet’s past alive and strong in our minds, reminding older folk and introducing young people to the frankly bonkers stories that make Watchet the wild, windy, weather blown coastal melting pot of history that it is.
Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project has also resulted in new permanent displays to be held at the Boat Museum and at East Quay. You can read all about the town's history on East Quay before heading to the Boat Museum and Market House Museum to find out more and get stuck into the details! In the Boat Museum also you will find a film exploring the process of making Holy Cow! and a newly commissioned animated storytelling of how a Watchet sailor captured an infamous pirate king!
Plans are afoot for another Maritime Mayhem weekend inn 2023 - watch this space and our What's On listings for details.