SELFS TALK: Thursday 11th December: What Is Christmas?


Christmas. What is it for? What does it mean? How has it changed? For the last South East London Folklore Society of the year we will be having a look at the origins of Christmas, traditions and customs & some fun stories & songs along the way. Mince pies & Yule log will be ate!

This talk will be held at the Old King’s Head, The Kings Yard, 45 Borough High Street, SE1 1NA London at 8pm

It will cost £3/£1.50 concs.
to guarantee a seat email
or you turn up on the night & it will probably be fine



John Constable; playwright, poet, performer and purveyor of unusual walks.

His best known work, The Southwark Mysteries, received in a vision on 23 November 1996, was performed in Shakespeare’s Globe and Southwark Cathedral.
He is also widely known as John Crow, the urban shaman who raised the spirit of The Goose at Cross Bones, south London’s outcasts’ graveyard. In this magical persona, he has conducted The Halloween of Cross Bones on thirteen consecutive Halloweens, rituals at Glastonbury and other festivals, and vigils at Cross Bones, where he curates a shrine at the gates and campaigns to protect the site as a garden of remembrance. His Sha-Manic Plays, The Southwark Mysteries, his stage adaptation of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast, and Secret Bankside – Walks In The Outlaw Borough are all published by Oberon Books.

This evening he will be telling us a variety of interesting things, telling tales, histories & poems. There will be an opportunity to ask John questions too.

For those of you who are familiar with John Crow you will know that this will be very interesting indeed.

For those of you who are unaware of John Crow you are in for a treat…

The evening will start at 8pm

It costs £3/£1.50 concesssion

To avoid disappointment you can book a place in advance by emailing

Upstairs at the Old King’s Head, The Kings Yard, 45 Borough High Street, SE1 1NA London

SELFS talk: Thursday 13th February. Paul Cowdell.’It’s not a question of taste’ cannibalism, songs & the custom of the sea

The Custom of the Sea, which was widely recognised until the late 19th century, gave sailors a final hope of surviving shipwrecks: according to the custom, when all other options were exhausted, it was permitted to draw lots and eat one of the survivors. This practice declined (but never quite vanished) with improved maritime safety, an imposed legal obligation to rescue shipwreck survivors, and an English test case that outlawed killing cabin boys for food. I’ll talk about the custom, how and why survival cannibalism was practised, and why it declined. I’ll illustrate this with lurid lines from Byron, Thackeray, Poe and Gilbert, as well as terrible and alarming historical incidents (the crew of the Francis Spaight waved the dismembered cabin boy’s hands and feet to attract attention), and serious and rather less serious songs in various languages. One of these songs does feature a recipe. Make sure you’ve eaten.

8pm at The Old King’s Head, King’s Head Yard, 45-49 Borough High Street, London SE1 1NA
on Thursday February 13th

Entry is £2.50/ £1.50 concessions
You can book a place to guarantee a seat. Email to book.

SELFS Talk. Thursday 9th January. Scott Wood: London’s Legendary Landscape


London’s statues and stones have stories stuck to them along with the chewing gum and pigeon poo. Tonight Scott Wood tells tales and dissects legends of the walking statue of Brandy Nan, insulting sculptures, sculptors driven to suicide by a mistake, Hitler’s office for when he ruled London and as much more as he can squeeze in about London’s legendary landscape. Urban legends may not be true but they tell do truths about out what people think and feel about the landscape and landmarks around them.

Scott is the author of London Urban Legends: The Corpse on the Tube, the author of the Fortean London column for Londonist co-organiser and host of the London Fortean Society and ran South East London Folklore Society for eight noisy and chaotic years.

8pm at The Old King’s Head, King’s Head Yard, 45-49 Borough High Street, London SE1 1NA
on Thursday January 9th

Entry is £2.50/ £1.50 concessions
You can book a place to guarantee a seat. Email to book.

SELFS Talk. Thursday 14th November. In search of the Knights Templar in Britain & Ireland. Simon Brighton

Templar_fresco_cornwall_england_simon_brightonThe Knights Templar was a military and religious order that dominated medieval Europe for nearly two hundred years until it was suppressed in the early 1300s. The warrior monks then disappeared from history into myth, their true nature forgotten and woven into fantasy. But the traces they left behind on the land can still be seen. Simon Brighton has visited many of the sites and will be explaining what there is to be seen, the myths and the facts of the matter.

8pm at The Old King’s Head on Thursday Nov 14th

£2.50/£1.50 concs

email to book

SELFS Talk: October 10th. Performing the Devil: A storytellers perspective on Rebranding Beelzebub. (Tim Ralphs.)


Tim Ralphs (British Award for Storytelling Excellence winner 2012) is a storyteller whose work involves adapting traditional tales for live performance. In 2013 he launched a new show, Rebranding Beelzebub, a collection of devil folklore adapted to take place in modern, urban environments with a healthy dose of humour.
In this talk, Tim Ralphs will explore some of the great challenges and delights that come from working with this material. He’ll tell stories that illustrate the Devil in several different narrative functions, talk about his take on the Devil as a character, the growth and development of his repertoire of Devilish material, and he’ll answer whatever questions you’re tempted to ask.

This talk is on October 10th at 8pm at The Old King’s Head,
King’s Head Yard, 45-49 Borough High Street, London SE1 1NA

Entry is £2.50/ £1.50 concessions
You can book a place to guarantee a seat. Email to book.

SELFS Talk, Thursday September 12th. Museum In The Pub

1920 Cuming Museum photograph

Thursday 12th September 8pm at the Old King’s Head, 47-49 Borough High St, London, Greater London SE1 1NA

For one night only the Cuming Museum will be in the upstairs room of the King’s Head. Come and view exhibits from one of South London’s hidden gems- on the bar. Join the staff of the museum as they tell us about the history of this collection, the fire which devastated the building and the process of recovery and restoration the museum is undergoing.

The evening starts at 8pm and comprises a series of talks and a question and answer session with an opportunity to view a fascinating variety of items of interest. Some pieces collected by Edward Lovett and items associated with the cockney visionary artist, Austin Osman Spare, will be displayed.

Entry is £2.50/ £1.50 concessions

It is advisable to book a place to avoid disappointment. Email to book.

SELFS Talk: Thursday 13th June. London: Gemini City


London: Gemini City.
Stories and songs from Nigel Of Bermondsey

Join Nigel Of Bermondsey on a musical journey through the streets of this fair capital. You may meet a ghost or two, cross the occasional underground river or encounter a cursed ironclad. There may be scenes of mild terror and the possibility of a duel. Have a drink ready to join in a toast to one of this fine city’s forgotten mystic artists.

Gemini City: we see London in a different way.

Talk commences at 8pm at The Old King’s Head 45-49 Borough High Street SE1 1NA
£2.50/£1.50 concs

SELFS talk: May 9th London’s Lost Worlds Of Sound

May Talk


London’s Lost Worlds Of Sound

Rarely-heard and never-heard archival recordings of vanished customs and daily life from the 1920s to the 1950s. Performing dogs, fortune tellers, Mike Stern the mayor of Petticoat Lane, lavender sellers, the singing sewer workers of the New Kent Road, Commander Daniel’s noise nuisances, Godfrey the bagpipe king and the secrets of the Tower of London’s Ravens.

Plus folk customs from Essex.

Presented by Ian Rawes of The London Sound Survey

Talk is at 8pm on the 9th of May in the upstairs room of the Old King’s Head, Borough

£2.50/£1.50 concessions