England’s rituals explored in exhibit

Culture vultures staying in luxury London hotels may be interested in stopping off at the Horniman Museum where they can take in a display of England's unique mummers, maypoles and milkmaids exhibit.

The free display, running until September 2012, presents 50 striking photographs from Sarah Hannant who documents bizarre regional rituals from all over the UK.

Costumed processions, symbolic dramatisations, traditional dances and fire ceremonies used to mark the changing seasons and celebrate harvests go on display.

"London practices are well documented including Borough Market's Apple Day celebrations and Twelfth Night Wassailing on the South Bank," commented the museum.

"Award-winning photographer Sara Hannant's vibrant images offer a captivating and surprising glimpse of contemporary 'Merrie England'."

Ms Hannant has been a freelance photographer for more than 20 years, having been awarded Resurgence Magazine's photography prize in 2006 and has appeared in The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Marie Claire and Time Out.

The Horniman's exhibit documents events that take place in Cornwall, Northumberland and many other places, including traditions such as Jack-in-the-Green, the Carshalton Straw Jack and the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance.

Opened in Victorian times, the museum is based in south London's Forest Hill and has seen its collection grow tenfold and includes internationally important collections of anthropology and musical instruments.

"Unusually for such an important museum, you can see our collection up-close and face-to-face," commented the group. "You can even pick up, try on and play with some of our objects."

Visitors are encouraged to explore the free exhibits, take part in activities and enjoy the 16-acre gardens.

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