IT'S a special time of year in Antrobus, one of the few remaining villages keeping alive the ancient English tradition of 'souling'.

The precursor to modern 'trick or treating', souling marks the three days centred around All Hallows' Day – November 1.

Susan Singola, of the Antrobus Soulcakers Gang, said: "Long ago, people believed that the walls between the living and dead were very thin at this time of year.

"The Christian church adopted November 2 as All Souls Day and November 1 All Saints (Hallows) Day, making October 31 All Hallows Eve.

"The three days were celebrated by eating special cakes, called soulcakes.

"A tradition developed for children to go from house to house, singing and asking for soulcakes.

"Later in certain areas, especially Cheshire, this changed into the performance of mumming plays by groups called soulcakers."

The traditions were taken to America by early settlers and became very popular, returning to the UK as trick or treating.

In the UK, Souling largely died out after the First World War. But in Antrobus, Major Arnold Boyd, naturalist and historian, recorded the words and the tradition continues today, with the Antrobus Soulcakers Gang raising money for cancer charities.

They perform in pubs between October 31 and November 12.

The newly opened Antrobus Community Tea Room has also revived the making of the soulcakes .

See full details of the group's upcoming performances on November 2, 3, 8, 9, and 10 on the Antrobus Soulcakers' Facebook page.