St Albans pub has an appointment with the wicker man

Wicker Man burning at The Foragers in St Albans

Wicker Man burning at The Foragers in St Albans - Credit: Archant

Summer is a-coming in, as the ancient celebratory song reminds us, so what better opportunity for St Albans to set fire to its own wicker man?

The burning was part of a special festival marking the arrival of May at The Verulam Arms organised by The Foragers, and also included wild food and ales, live medieval music from The Princes in the Tower, and a screening of classic 1973 movie The Wicker Man introduced by the director, Robin Hardy.

Foragers founder Richard Osmond explained the thinking behind the event: “Like in the film The Wicker Man, we wanted to celebrate May Day according to old traditions, and invoke the spirit of a time when people were more in touch with nature and the spirit of the wild.”

The centrepiece of the May festival was the burning of a wicker man, made using traditional wicker-working techniques, but rather than sacrificing an animal, the head was filled with ancient sacred herbs foraged from the local countryside.

Richard added: “We served a selection of wild foraged food - including venison, and bean and hogweed stew. The foaming tankards we raised as the charred frame of the wicker man finally collapsed were filled with a special Wicker Man beer brewed for the occasion.

“As the sky darkened, we prepared to screen the director’s cut of the original 1970s Wicker Man movie.

“Though this film is usually classed as a horror movie, it is in fact, for the most part, a lighthearted, intriguing and, at times, musical mystery, albeit with a horrific twist.

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“We were privileged to have Robin Hardy, the director of the film, as guest of honour.

“In a brief introduction, he spoke of his experience making the film, and also gave intriguing hints about a new project he is working on - a third part of the Wicker Man trilogy, to follow his recent sequel, The Wicker Tree.”

Mr Hardy said about his trip to The Verulam Arms: “I have to say the path that you and your mates are following with your foraging restaurant and pub is a wonderful notion. I hope this inspired idea proves a huge success.

“I thoroughly enjoyed both the food and the atmosphere at your wicker man celebration on May Day.”