A CHENEY Manor apple tree was fed a glug of cider and decorated with slices of toast - and organisers claim it will help result in a bumper fruit crop.

Twigs Community Garden has run the annual wassailing ceremony every January for the past seven years.

The traditional ceremony sees morris dancers lead a procession around the Cheney Manor Road gardens, before a crowd blesses the apple tree and asks for a bumper crop of apples.

And this year, for the first time ever, the wassailers were joined by Swindon man Robert Beech dressed in an eight foot Green Man costume.

Dick Millard, a Twigs trustee, has acted as the “butler” of the wassail for the last seven years: “The butler is the master of ceremonies. We have a procession round the garden, where we make lots of noise and bang on pots. The noise is to drive away the evil spirits from the apple tree.

“When we arrive at the tree at the end of the procession we decorate the branches, pour some cider round the roots and sing traditional wassail songs. That’s designed to promote the good health of the tree.

“It must work. We’ve been doing this for seven years and every season following the wassail we’ve had a good crop of apples.”

The tradition of wassailing in orchards dates back centuries. The name originates from an Anglo Saxon greeting, meaning “be in good health”.