THERE was nothing that was going to deter people in Bridport enjoying the eighth annual community orchard wassailing event - certainly not the forecast of sub zero temperatures and a damp, drizzly sunless overcast Sunday afternoon.

Wyld Morris danced, and played the music, which also accompanied the singing of the traditional songs to wake the cider apple trees and to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the autumn.

Martin Maudlsey led the traditional ceremony, and a great deal of noise was made so that all the bad spirits which could ruin the new apple crop have been banished.

Chairman of the community orchard group Jill Lloyd said: "And if we have as good a crop this year as we, and most of Dorset, did in 2015, it is worth wassailing."

West Milton provided hot and cold cider, and many litres of the orchard’s home produced hot apple juice was also consumed.

A blazing fire was surrounded by about 150 people, of all ages, and also a number of dogs, to enjoy Martin’s telling of tall apple tales.

Mrs Lloyd added: "It was a real community event, in the best Bridport tradition; team work, great support from local people, and open to all.

"The High Sherriff of Dorset, Mrs Jennifer Combes kindly came from her home near Blandford, to pay the Town her first official visit, at the invitation of the Mayor, Councillor Sandra Brown, who escorted her."

The word 'wassail' comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase 'waes hael', which means 'good health'. Originally, the wassail was a drink made of mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and sugar.

It was served from huge bowls, often made of silver or pewter. Jesus College, in Oxford University, has a Wassail bowl, that is covered with silver. It can hold 10 gallons of drink.

The Wassail drink mixture was sometimes called 'Lamb's Wool', because of the pulp of the roasted apples looked all frothy and a bit like lambs wool.

The ceremonies of each wassail vary from village to village but they generally all have the same core elements. A wassail King and Queen lead the song and/or a processional tune to be played/sung from one orchard to the next, the wassail Queen will then be lifted up into the boughs of the tree where she will place toast soaked in Wassail from the Clayen Cup as a gift to the tree spirits.