Good spirits were welcomed into the orchard in the Walled Garden at Chawton House as it hosted its annual wassail on the night of January 28.

The wassail, a centuries-old tradition, was led by its Wassail Queen and had two purposes – encouraging good spirits into the orchard, and warding off evil ones.

Visitors were encouraged to shout and bang their pots, pans, sticks and all manner of instruments, to make as loud a hullabaloo as possible, while shouting “Evil be gone!” to see away any malevolent beings sensitive to noise.

Adding to the atmosphere were the Kings Pond Shantymen, who serenaded the trees with traditional folk songs when the time came to appease the orchard’s friendly spirits. The gifting continued with toast dipped in cider being placed on the boughs of the Walled Garden’s oldest apple tree.

Richard Taylor, who took part, said: “I can’t remember the last time I made such a racket! It was so much fun!”