The Manuscript.The manuscript consists of four hand written volumes. Occasional press cuttings are pasted into the MS. Musical examples are notated on hand drawn staves.
Many examples occur of Sharp copying into the MSS extracts from published works and personal letters.
Each page of the original is paginated in either the top right or left hand corner of the page.
The transcription maintains the spelling, capitalisation and punctuation of the original. Where words or phrases are underlined in the original this has also been done in the transcript, however double underlinings are shown as single underlinings.
Line breaks have not been maintained, save where the sense has demanded this. Examples where line breaks have been maintained occur typically in lists and song verses.
Transcriptional interpolations are shown contained [in square brackets in red type.]
Each page in the original is numbered and this pagination has been maintained as [f1], [f2] etc. Pages are separated in the transcript by a horizontal rule. In Volume 1, the numbering jumps a folio between f101 and f102. At some stage the extra folio has been marked with "(a)". In this transcript this folio is referred to as f101a
Press cuttings have been fully transcribed. However, where Sharp has copied into his notes, extracts from commonly available texts, these have not been transcribed. Full references are given in each case.
Bibliography of Shanties
1. "Sailor Songs" by W.J. Allen, Harpers Magazine, 1882. (Best article on the subject, illustrated by 18 chanty tunes. Music not always grammatical, but quite intelligible.)
2. "The Chanty Man" by H. Phelps Whitmarsh, Harpers Magazine, date unknown, 6 tunes given.
3. "The Sea-Shanty", Yachting Monthly, October 1906, 14 tunes given.
N.B. I have some half-dozen other articles, chiefly from nautical magazines, but the above are the only ones I know with music (except Mr. Maseflelds in Temple Bar, Jan. 1906 , whose music is taken blind-fold from Tozers collection, as he has no knowledge of music.
Ferris Tozer's "Sailors' Songs" (Boosey & Co), "Old Sea Chanties Bradford & Fagge (Metzler), Miss Laura Smiths "Music of the Waters,
contains a heterogeneous collection of sea music including some chanties, but it should be used with caution as the book contains some amazing blunders as well as incorrectly noted tunes. In an article on Chanties which originally appeared in the Manchester Guardian Mr. Masefield refers those interested in the music of chanties to the files of The Boys own Paper and "The Cadet and also to the song-book of the "Guild of Handicraft".
I think this about exhausts the available fund of written chanty music - and the words are naught without the tunes.
(Extracts from papers sent by D.S. MacColl to F.S.S.)
Wm. Tunniclifter, Rochdale.
In modern Country Dances men stand opposite their partners, but this was by no means the rule in early times: Sellenger's Round, supposed to be the earliest country dance known was danced in a circle, round the Maypole - whilst in the Dargason the men and women stood in a straight line. Of tile old Country Dances, Roger de Coverley is still common and the Cushion Dance which is mentioned as early as Elizabeth's time is now danced at social gatherings in the village of Dunston Staffordshire and in almost its original form.
It may be interesting to note how that the Hobby Horse is still celebrated in the village of Abbots Bromley, Staffords., but under the name of the Horn Dance. Then they have still the Hobby Horse - the bow and arrows - the pot lid and in addition six Elk's horns, and this I conclude must have obtained for it the Horn Dance place of Hobby Horse Dance. The horns are attached to poles which are carried by six men who
accompany the person who carries the Hobby Horse between his legs. Three af the horns are painted white and three blue. The dance is performed at the "Wakes" and at Christmas time.
( from Emily G. Kemp )
The Morris dance was very ancient and was generally danced in connection with pageants or processions, in the 16th century also on the stage. There were five or more dancers and they wore bells of unequal sizes, called the fore-bell, the 2nd bell, the treble, and tenor or great bell. One form of this was performed within the last fifty years in the Fylde under the curious name of "Tynagning". The name according to some is derived from "Agnalia", according to others from "Tynis Agnae". It was danced by a band of seven - a "Toss-Pot in rags, the Grand Turk and his son, St. George, a Doctor and Bessy. St. George and the Turk fight, the former of course winning; but the Doctor brings
back the Turk to life again, saying "I ve a little bottle in my pocket called alicampane Rise, brave Turk, and fight the battle again."
The play concludes with a song. The whole is interesting as preserving the derivation of the word "Morris" - "Morisco". Rochdale was especially famous for its Morris dances in connection with rush-bearings, a ceremony which dates back to the earliest times, probably as remote as Pope Gregory IV (A.D. 827), who ordered the founding of the Christian Church in England to be yearly commemorated. In course of time this grew to be an elaborate performance in which all the neighbouring villages vied with Rochdale in the endeavour to send the gayest rush-cart. The rushes were dexterously built into a pyramid, then adorned with flowers, ribbons and in front with silver tea-pots, salvers, goblets, etc. (sometimes to the value of £100 ) lent by the neighbouring gentry. The whole was surmounted by a man astride, gaily ornamented with ribbons, red, white and blue. The-cart was generally drawn by 20 or 30 couple of young men in white shirts, also properly decorated with ribbons, and preceded by
men jumping from side to side, ringing horse-bells, and young women bearing garlands, and sometimes by a band and set of Morris dancers. Men with long whips accompanied the carts, cracking them to keep off the crowd. Before the carts started from their villages the young men had a dance with the privilege of first choice of partners among the village lasses. When the bugle sounded they kissed their partners and took their places. On arriving at the Butts (the centre of Rochdale) all the bands played Rule Britannia and the young men vied with one another in the Picturesqueness of their dancing. As they passed through the town flowers were showered upon them from gaily decorated windows and the effect must have been very similar to that of Carnival Day in an Italian City. (I am afraid this is hardly to the point, but get led away by interest in the subject.)
Jane E. Brailey, Banbury.
The Morris Dance is generally supposed to have been introduced into England from Spain where it owed its. origin to the Moors. It was a favourite dance in England in the 18th and 17th centuries and was danced usually to celebrate May Day. Chappell says "Trip and go" and Staine's Morris Dance were Morris Dance music. This dance is to be seen still in Northamptonshire. I have seen it danced at Syresham, a village in that county. It was danced in an orchard on May Day by men. The hobby horse was exactly like the one Chappell describes. Robin Hood and Maid Marlan were represented. The latter was a man dressed up. All the people were decorated with long streamers of coloured ribbon. They had music, but no singing I don't remember a dragon. In the same village I have seen a fully carried out May Pole dance, danced by men only, every alternate man dressed as a woman. I have seen this too in Lancashire.
I know numerous children's songs with dancing sometimes a ring, sometimes two lines advancing and receding.
"Oranges and lemons
The bells of St. Clemens"
"Here we go round the Mulberry Bush".
In S. Wales on Boxing Day the children come round with a lemon stuck into some wooden skewers impaled on a larger skewer and to measures beaten with their feet and sticks sing
"God bless the master of this house
God bless the mistress too
God bless the little children
Around the table too
God send you a happy (Happy, happy, ad infinitum ) New Year", etc.
W. Potts, Guardian Office, Banbury.
Brackley , Morris Dancers.
This troupe prides itself on having kept up the custom of Morris dancing throughout an unbroken succession of years. It consists of eight men. One is a Kind of Master of Ceremonies under the title of "Fool" and another beats time. The remaining six keep up the dance. A ninth individual collects money from the spectators. The "Fool" has a distinctive costume consisting of a broad-brimmed hat covered with gaudy trimmings and decerations, a short muslin skirt with numerous flowers over his knickerbockers of pink cambric and flowered pompadour and so short as to exhibit an odd pair of stockings, one black and other pink. A muslin jacket covered the upper part of the body. He carried a whip on the lash of which is a number of odd bladders. The person who marks time is also dressed in a peculiar style and accompanied the dance with pipe and tabor. The six performers
are dressed in white shirts and trousers with high hats ornamented with streamers. Across their shoulders bands of coloured material with rosettes taking the place of braces, while below the knees are other adornments of tape on which hang small bells. During certain dances each performer carried a stick which he manipulated in a variety of ways. Sometimes it is twirled round and round while the dancers approach their partners striking their sticks together when they meet. Sometimes it is struck on the ground before it is brought in contact with that of their opponent. In other dances instead of a stick the performers hold. a handkerchief in each hand.
It is said that many years ago the Brackley Morris Dancers were patronized by a religious house in the town, and at one time presented a Service of Communion plate to one of the churches.
The followings is a list of the names of dances performed by this troupe.
1. Maid at the Mill
2. Lads a bunsham
3. Queen's delight
4. Bobbin & Joan
5. Mad Miller (or Mad Parson)
6. Country Garden
7. Constant Billy
8. Twenty ninth of May
9. Room for the Cuckoo
10. Balance the Straw
11. Saturday Night
12. Broad Cupid
13. Bonny green garters
14. Trunk hose
15. Old Woman tossed up in a blanket
18. Black Joke
17. Cuckoo's Nest
18. Jockey at the Fair )
19. Princes Royal )
20. Lumps of Pudding ) Single Dances
21. Old Oxford )
22. Shepherd s Hay )
Ann Alike (The Shepherd's Call )
from Barsaz - Briz De la Villemarque.
Title from the shepherd's call "Ali Ke". It is sung at the Shepherd's Holiday, a childrens' festival, when all the boy and girl tenders of sheep meet and dance. They sing this old song dancing as they go homewards.
In Taylor's English edition title given as "Shepherd's Hey" and Shepherd's Call.
(L.E.B. April 16th 1908)
Jockey to the Fair. See Kidson's Minstrelsy of England, p. 206, and L.E.B. March 16th 1908. (see Song Note Book. L.E.B. same date)
There has been a revival of interest in our Lancashire morris dancers, who used to be specially associated with the rush cart processions in the vicinity of Oldham and Manchester and there have just been interesting reminiscences in the correspondence column of the "Manchester City News". One still occasionally sees Morris Dancers here at fetes. They "process" in pairs, dancing forward witha polka or schottische step, every other pair turning at intervals to face the two behind them and dancing in fours (with hands-across as far as I can remember) then turning and resuming the forward step. Those I saw had small cat-bells and I think short staves bedecked with ribbons which they held aloft and twirled as they danced. But it is several years since I saw them so my memory is not very clear. These danced to "
The Girl I left behind me" played by a band - but formerly there was a "proper" tune with rhymes attached which the dancers sang in quick 2/4 time. (You will find one version in "Traditional Tunes" and another - not quite correctly noted I think - in Grove, 1st Ed. ) But an old street-fiddler here played me what he called a Morris dance in 6/8 time and I have heard children dancing round and plaiting the Maypole to the same tune, which is I believe the original of the supposed Scottish tune "A hundred pipers". Whether our Lancashire dancers retaiin the old steps or not, of course, I do not know.
(A.G.G. Nov. 30th 1906)
The Blue Eyed Stranger is of course "The Mill, Mill O to which Burns wrote his "The Soldier's Return". Graham in his "Songs of Scotland" mentions that "The Mill" was a tune used by Gay in his opera "Polly", 1729. Whether at that period it was considered an English or a Scotch tune I don't know! Graham says it is also in Mr. Crockat's M.S. 1709 which is the earliest date he has been able to trace it to.
Rigs of Marlow. The Scotch version of this is Bobby Shafto, or "Sandy he belongs to the Mill".
I should not wonder at all if "The Girl I left behind me" was originally a Morris Dance. Nobody seems to know where it came from originally.
(A.G.G. Dec. 16th 1906)
There is a Morris Dancers' Inn between here and Ormskirk. As far as I can recollect the old sign, both men and women were taking part in the dance, and this, I have heard from another source, was the local custom in these parts within living memory
( A.G.G. Nov. l0th 1907 )
The Kirtlington Morris Dancers. (See Song note book into which it was pasted in error. )
The Maypole dance that you have is really the Morris Dance (enclosed) which George himself altered just a little to make it fit into the dancing. George is an old quarry man and and used to play it on the fiddle for dancing. He himself wrote it down and sent it to me when he knew we were interested in the old music. I got him to hum it over very carefully the last time I was there and as far as I could tell he had put it down perfectly correctly. So far as I know the tune has never been published but has been handed down amongst the village people. Allen's wife remembers seeing Maypole Dancing in Derbyshire and the Morris dance was danced only a few years ago in a village near our old home - to this tune.
(Miss K. Sorby 26th March 1908)
The Glostershire Morris is at Campden. They keep it going fairly well or did a year or two ago. Headington Quarry has dropped - Kirtlington and Bletchington also. The last of the Kirtlington men is just dead. Bampton is languishing.
(H.W. Taunt, May 1908)
[The following is a transcription of a press cutting pasted into the original - source uinknown]
A CHELTENHAM MORRIS DANCE.
The Maypole, the Morris and other queer survivals, whose tradition still lingers amongst us, naturally receive attention and suggestive illustration from reference in English literature. With regard to the Morris dance, which has a Moorish origin, the author says: -"Like, the mummers and many other old customs, it died hard in the district of the Cotswold Hills, and I was not long ago gi. ven an account by an .eye-witness of the last time it was apprently danced in the town of Cheltenham about forty years ago. He told me that the performers appeared in knee-breeches, tall or 'box' 'hats, as he called them, and short jackets with white sleeves. They were about twenty in number, and formed up in two lines facing each other. The music was supplied by two men with long tin whistles , and also by the clashing of the two wooden sticks of the dancers, the last remnants of the pipes and sword staves of the earlier Morris.
In the title page to Part 3 (The Prophets) of The Great Bible (Cranmer's Bible). 1541
There is a woodcut of a hobby-horse. There are 2 children in front of' the man with horse, and two behind apprently whipping him.
Same in Biblia Latina. L.A. Quinta Venice 1519. 8vo or small 4to.
Smaller woodcut, but contains same details. The horse has not got a decent head and the man carries a long pole or spear with the sails of a windmill at the end. Two children follow behind and a dog barks in front. It occurs this time on folio 231 Psalm LIII, "Dixit insipiens" and I suppose is meant to represent a fool who has nothing better to do than ride about on a hobby horse with children shouting and dogs barking at him.
(W. P. Blae)
Played in the streets of Oxford City, Ash Wednesday Feb. 25th 1789. This was played by a flute a bec and tambour. Noted by Malchior, Dr. Crotch's old friend and collaborator in "Specimens" of Cologne and friend of Handel's friend, the oboist Fischer.
(sent me by L.E.B.)
If you go to Thibonville - Lamy, Charterhouse St. you might get one. Some time ago they had some French Galouberts identical with our pipe. If they have none by persistance you might get them to order one for you from their Paris house. I think they cent 2/- and would answer your purpose.
(Rev. F.W. Galpin, 10.1.1907)
At the barn of the united parishes of Startton and Snowshill (near Broadway) there are old Country dances performed annually.
(S.B.G. June 3uth 1906)
Hobby Horse, Minehead. Sailors and other working-class men keep the custom quite among themselves - jealous of any interference with their rights and very exclusive.
Not usually the same men with the horse. Each year make a great mystery about where it is kept, whether it is coming out and who will be with it. Horse is prepared secretly and very few (except the exclusive set) know where it comes from. In 1893 came from Quay; in 1894 from Higher Town; 1898 the two chief men concerned were Adams from Alcombe and a man named Elms working for Mr. Stoate. Of late years the horse has come from the Quay and is labelled the "Sailor's Horse". In 1905 or 1906 there have been two horses, one (the original) from the Quay, the other from Higher Town.
Horse appears first on eve of May Day which the men call the "Warning". Two men with the horse, one with horse one with drum, of late years an accordion has been added. The men take turns in carrying the
horse - sometimes others help.
Horse a long canoe-shaped frame about 7 or 8 feet long - both ends alike - no semblance of head. Covered with gaudy coloured chintz or cretonne and upper part hung thickly with ribbons of all colours. Horselling reaching to the ground.
Man gets under, thrusts his head through hole in back of horse and carries it on his shoulders. His head surmounted by a fantastical comical cap, also decorated freely with ribbons. There is a hole in the right hand side of horselling through which man can thrust his hand for contributions. Tail end of horse distinguished by a long thick rope at end of which is spliced a cow's tail. This drags on the ground. He trails it through all the mud he can and occasionally with a smart turn of the horse swishes tail round to keep people back. The man accompanying the horse has a drum (tabor) - an ancient one been used many years - not a kettle-drum. Walking sometimes near sometimes at a distance from horse he keeps up a monstrous
beating usually run-tun-tun, rum-ti-ti-tum, with two sticks on one end of the drum. Horse meantime dances about, runs here and there, singles out individuals - does' obeisance, head first, forwards, then sideways, with hand at opening. If nothing is forthcoming and sometimes when there is, according to the person or the liberty he thinks he may take with him he swings horse suddenly round bringing muddy tail end of rope round with a swish. Clears off youngsters in same way.
Horse does not beg on "Warning Night". On May Day morn, a little before 6, horse and drum proceed by Quay Lane, Higher Town and Woodcombe Lane, drum-beating to Whitecross, which he reaches at 6 - a cross-road out of Minehead beyond the Parks. There he capers about (dance they call it) then returns through the town to Quay Street. Years ago a lot of people went with it, among them women and children and carry on a lot of fun among themselves.
After breakfast, about 9,
horse starts for Dunster. Most of the men accompanying the night before are at work so the two leaders are generally left to go alone. Castle visited, Mr Luttrell give 10/-. Similar antics in Dunster Town and money collected. Return to Minehead in afternoon and continues in street all the evening, other helpers coming to assist. All the collecting is done by the horse. Many houses are visited. Next two days horse about the town and in the evenings in the principal streets. On third night (not counting "Warning Night") horse goes to Chur, a cross-road near Hopcott about half a mile out of town, about 10 o'clock. Similar dance and antics there, which finishes up for the year. It is believed that the visit on May morn to Whitecross and that on third evening to Chur are indispensable and that if carefully observed the hobby horse custom is legal and no one dares to interfere with it. Also it is supposed the custom must not be allowed to drop for even a single year.
Sailors claim that it has been carried on from time immemorial without once lapsing. Plenty of testimony in the town that it has always existed without break for very many years back.
Few years ago - seldom now - ceremony of "pursing" or "booting" formed a special feature. Any one refusing to contribute was caught up by attendants and held over the ground face downwards by his legs and arms; another man with an old boot or sometimes with the tail of the horse, or with his hands only strikes the offender on the back ten times, all singing out "Oh one", "Oh two", Oh three" and so on up to ten. If willing to give he is released, if not, at "Oh ten" the horse dexterously swishes his tail round at the party who drop the man and run - the muddier or dustier the ground the better the fun.
It is said the horse met John Fownes Luttrell, father of present Squire, on the road to Dunster and took him from his
carriage and "pursed him".
Up to the middle of last century two "gullivers" - fantastically dressed men carrying staves with ribbons accompanied the horse and did the begging.
They claimed the right even to open doors and go into houses for money. They took too great a licence. Man named Smith in the Parks resented intrusion to his house - quarrel ensued - Smith died from effects of a blow. Custom then dropped of having "gullivers" and the horse does the begging.
Sailors say that years ago the Danes were going to invade Minehead - the hobby-horse was brought out and they fled. They also say that some Padstow sailors saw the Minehead hobby-horse and introduced the same custom there, but did not copy the horse properly.
Padstow Hobby Horse.
The Padstow hobby horse or "Hobby Hoss" is a time-honoured custom of great antiquity. The tradition as to its origin is that at the time when fierce wars were raged between the French and the English (probably latter l8th century) Padstow was threatened by a French fleet, and that the Hobby Hoss stood ground over the port on "Steppe Point" with such good effect that the Frenchmen fled in terror from what they supposed must be the Evil One. Certainly the reference in the May Songs to French dogs eating the goose feathers may lend colour to this tradition. Further it is a remarkable co-incidence that in the year 1902, when the oaken "snappers" of the Horse were being scraped of the accumulated paint of many years, the date 1802 was found deeply carved in the oak, which was itself black with age. But this fact, though interesting, is no conclusive proof of the age of this quaint custom since it has been necessary from time to time to renew various parts of the dress of the Horse and 1802 may have been the date of the new
However, from time immemorial the custom has been celebrated in Padstow on May 1st of each year.
When ship building was a thriving industry of the port the shipwrights of Padstow would erect a large pole at the top of Cross Street in the centre of a cross inlaid with stone which is a promiment feature of the street. This pole was gaily decorated with spring flowers, etc. and used as a May pole, but throtgh the objections of a former tenant of a house near by the Maypole has long since been abandoned.
On the night preceding May Day the "Horse Pairs" or the party of men who were to accompany the horse on the morrow and lead the merrymaking used to assemble at the "Golden Lion" to a substantial supper.
Afterwards accompanied by many young men of the town, they made a round of the countryside and town singing the May Song in front of the more important houses. Then followed some hours of rest and expectation, until at
10 a.m. the men assembled at the "Golden Lion" for the day's rejoicing. The "Hobby Hoss" a formidable looking creature with tall cap, flowing plume and tail, savage looking snappers and a ferocious mask, sallied forth, accompanied by the Pairs carrying each a musical instrument of which the drum is the most prominent. Before the "Hobby Horse" danced a man in a terrible dwarf mask carrying a club. This dancer led the way everywhere, followed throughout the day by the Horse and a vast crowd of men and women gaily decorated with flowers and singing the May Songs, while the men fired in all directions pistols loaded with powder. The "Horse" went to the Vicarage and to Treater Pool to drink then returned to Padstow and made a tour of the streets, dancing and singing before all the houses visited in the night. Money was freely collected to be shared by the Horse and the Pairs. The Horse was always a source of terror to all strangers even men seeing it for the first time fleeing from it with alacrity, particularly the
crews of foreign vessels will fly terror stricken into the rigging of the ships.
(Pamphlet pub. by Williams & Son, Stationers, Market Sq., Padstow, 1903)
Picture of horse astride and words of May Songs.
Extracts from Kimbers Letters
Of course they did not know the tune (Country Gardens). I says, wonder where they got that tune from. One man said it was the "Vicar of Bray" , but as I told him there was a lot of difference in Country Gardens and Vicar of Bray, as much as chalk and cheese are.
Old woman if you please
Will you come along with me
Into my fine country gardens.
Not much like the Vicar of Bray is it?
(April 28, 1907. )
We don't wear sweaters to dance in, only in the winter when it is too cold to wear shirts. Ours are the old fashioned pleated shirts when the weather permits. Then there was an old dancer there Jack Tombs by name 92 years old who told them Shepherd's Hey was a stick and hank dance. Says he, that's wrong Merry my boy it's a jig he says to me. I will show you how it is done - and he did. Sir you would have liked to have seen him poor old chap. I had
to have one with him afterwards. Then again one book speaks of Mr. Percy Manning. All he speaks of as regards Morris Dancing he got from us. Sir I know him well. His Trunk hose means Trunkles - that's a name he adopted himself when we told him Trunkles. Then you speak of Bampton, they could never dance with sticks so what they know of Constant Billy is of little use to us. One thing I may tell you for years and years in my father's time and his father's time there was what was called the Kirtland Lamb Ale where all the Morris dancers used to dance for a cheese and the ribbon and the Headington Team always won. As many as twenty sides used to compete but ours was the only one with sticks and Jigs and draw backs and set-back dances. Some day I will tell you the origin of Headington Morris.
(June 1st 1907)
The enclosed horn is the old peeling horn. This is one that has been blown on several occasions at the hour of midnight on Whit Sunday to prepare for the dancers. I have been very careful not to rub even the dust off it so as you could see exactly the beauty of it. This one must be nearly 80 years old. As far as I can gather quite that. I do hope you will get it safe as it's the true horn and so good for its age. Tomorrow if I can mange it I am going to a little village called Noke, about nine miles from here. I have it on good grounds that there is, a whittle and dub, and if it is to be found I am going to find it.
(Kimber. Jan. 22. 08)
I am glad you are pleased with the horn. They are made of green willow bark previously well soaked so as to loosen the bark. It's then rolled up as you see about a foot long 3 inches in diameter at the
largest end. To the smaller end was fitted a reed about 2 inches long made of the same bark without any incision being made in it. This part was called the trumpet. The edges of the reed which entered the mouth of the player were then pinched together to produce the sound. The whole horn was pinned together with long blackthorn thorns. You will see that the one I send you have lost some of its thorns. I can send you some more if you think you would like them but I let you have it exactly as I got it.
I shall have some more tunes for you one of these days, but I must get them quite right before you have them namely Leap Frog, Maid of the Mill, The Willow Tree, Bob and Joan, Broom Stick and a few more as soon as I can get them to have another touch at dancing.
P.S. Bonnie Green Garters.
First for the stockings and then for the shoes
And then for the bonnie green garters
A pair for me and a pair for you
And a pair for they that come after.
The Willow Tree
Once they said my lips were red
Now they're scarlet pale
When I like a silly girl
Believed his flattering tale
But he vowed he'd never deceive me
And so fondly I believed he
While the stars and the moon so sweetly shone
Over the willow tree.
(Kimber Jan 28. 1908)
Mr. and Mrs. Glover went by excursion train to Leeds for a holiday. I have Just seen her and she tells me that she heard of Morris dances at Sowerby Bridge. The week before she was there they had some local function and all the people kept holidary. Amongst other things they had these dances and she was told "There were 10 sets in Lancashire and no other place in England had them" which she was able to deny. As far as her friends could tell her (for they had not noticed the dances much) the people wore clogs and had sticks but they seemed to think the music was modern as it did not seem to go well with the dances.
William Hathaway of Cheltenham told me that the Morris was danced at
Lower Guitting. Power. Tabor and Pipe.
Sherborne (a desperate Morris place)
Leyfield, near Shipton under Witchet.
He said that Jas. Bennet, a tall man, hailing from Stow went to Bidford 30 years ago and started them dancing.
Kimber told me that Bonny Green Garters is a Leap Frog dance.
Shake up first
Begin with a ring
Jump over leap frog fashion in pairs visa vis, each does two leaps, i.e. four to the pair going round in a ring.
Kimber's father told me there always used to be a Maypole on May day at Kirtlington and Morris
men used to dance a Morris round it holding ribbons the while (?)
George Wright of Wensley Derbyshire told me that he first saw Maypole ribbon dancing at Buxton 1870. Believed it was revived about that time. They did the "Barber's Pole" and "Spider's Web". It was always performed in June at well-dressing time.
His father talked of Winster Morris dancing as having been done before G.W. himself was born. Always at Winster, never heard of it elsewhere.
John Boam and others at Winster said they used to dance the "Long Brush dance" same as Broom Stem dance of Somerset. eAlso "Frog dancing" which is same as Devon "Kibby dancing".
Also the Wrastling Crib" with a doorkey on the ground. (June 1908)
Some Morris dances take place at Tideswell every year on 25th of May.
(Percy Denman, Retford. 17 July 1908)
Copy of MSS. lent me by Mr. Horne, stationer, of Chipping Campden. They were made by his father who died 10 years ago. The father was born and lived all his life in Campden. (Jan. 1909.)
About the year 1780 a Jubilee (or Club) was held at Milton-under-Wychwood where Morris Dancing was carried on and two people were carried round the village dressed up for the occasion and called the Lord and Lady.
The Dancers were 6 dancers
1 Piper ( Tabor and pipe )
1 seventh man or Tom fool
1 Box or Treasure man
made up the nine.
The six dancers wore high box hats (Plaided shirts and white breeches). Their hats, arms, bodices and. legs trimmed with coloaured ribbons with a sash or cross belt. A square piece of leather with bells on were rivetted to their hats and shoulders their bells being fastened on a piece of whipcord,
[The following two lines appear on f44 but are bracketed to make it clear that they should be inserted at this point in the text]
each dancer having a white pocket handkerchief in each hand with one corner tied round one finger dancing to the tune "The Maid of the Mill".
The 7th man or Tom fool one black shoe andone whitewashed one, one black and one white stocking. Print trousers very loose with legs reaching below the knee, with T.F. in fair-sized letters on his back, and a large paddock on a chain for a watch, and when
asked what a clock it was he used to pull it out and quick catching them a blow on the head telling them it just struck one. They did not ask any more questions for fear it should strike two - he also carried a stick with a bladder at one end and a calves tail at the other end and did not forget to use them about the boys backs.
Shipton in Oxfordshire was a very noted place for Morris cancing. 3 or 4 sets at one time used to attend the Club.
The last dancing that took place in Overshill the last year a meeting was held the Morris dancers came from Longborough.
The Fool tricd to kiss the girls leaving a black smudge on their faces - hence in Gloucestershire kissing is called "smudging".
The Box or Treasure man had some very funny sayings to induce people to give.
[See note on f43, regarding the transposition of text at this point.]
In Congreve's "English Treasury of Wit and Language" 1658 we read
How they become the Morris with whose bells
They ring all in the Whitsun ales and swear
Though twenty scarfs and napkins till the hobby horse
Tire and the Maid Marian, resolved to jelly
Be kept, for soon meat.
A short time before the Revolution in France the May Games and Morris Dance was celebrated in many parts of the country accompanied by a fool and a hobby horse with a ladle stuck in or tied to his mouth ornamented with a ribbon. It use was to receive pecuniary donations.
On May Day about the year a very amusing Morris dance took place in front of Shakespear's house at Stratford on Avon between four Tom Fools and four country lasses who were just in their bloom as they had not passed out of their teens, the damsels wore high dresses, short sleeves, a small white cap tied under their chins with blue ribbons white aprons
a blue sash round their waists and bright scarlet stockings, it was observed by the bystanders that the fair damsels had a (wicked) naughty look about them and that they were bent on playing their partners a trick; (but Tom Fools are different from natural fools and not so easily trapped). Now, it happened to be Leap year and their little game was to tread on their toes, if they succeeded in doing so, it was an old custom that if any young lady trod on gentleman's toe in Leap year he was compelled to marry her before the end of the year. Shakespear himself was present at the dance and no one enjoyed the fun better and most likely put the young ladies up to the Leap year trick. Only one of the four young ladies succeeded and she and Mr. Thomas were made partners for Life before the end of the year. The Morris dance was made more amusing as while they danced they sang the following song.
"Trip and go, heel and toe"
Up and down, to and fro
From the Towne to the Grove
Two and two let us rove
A-Maying, a-Playing; Love hath no gainsaying
So merrily Trip and goe.
The Morris Dance, in which bells are mingled, or swords clashed, was first learned by the Moors, and was a kind of military dance, Morisco, a Moor; also a dance, so called wherein a number of men and a boy, dressed in a girl's habit, whom they called the Maid, or perhaps Morian, from the Italian Morione, a head piece, because her head was wont to be gaily trimmed up - common people called it a Morris dance, and both English and foreign glossaries uniformly ascribe the origin of this dance to the Moors in 1649, the Spanish Morisco is mentioned this not only shows the legitimacy of the term Morris but the real Moorish dance was to be found in Spain under the name of Fandango - The Spanish dance was danced at puppet-shows and usually blackened their faces with soot, that they might the better pass for Moors. Morris dancing was practised in France about the beginning of the 13th century. The dance was usually performed abroad by an equal number of young men, who danced in their shirts, with ribbons, and little bells about their legs. The Morris dance is presumed to have been brought into England in the time of Edward III. In the celebrated ancient window, at the house of George Tollet Esq. at Betley in Staffordshire there are twelve panes of glass representing the Maypole and eleven characters in
the Morris dance. Particulars about Morris dancing appeared in a Tract printed in 1609 entitled old Meg of Herefordshire, for a Maid Marian and Hereford towne for a Morris dance; or twelve Morris dancers in Herefordshire twelve hundred years old.
The Taboror of the Morris dance in Mr. Tollet's window is represented opposite in the pane next the fool to prove this figure to be Tom the piper the following quotation of these lines are given.
Myself above Tom piper to advance
Who so bestirs him in the Morris dance For penny wage.
A Morris dance in Herefordshire by seven old men and a boy whose ages computed together amounted to 800 year.
J. Corley aged 109
Thomas Buckley " 106
John Snow " 101
John Edey " 104
George Bailey " 106
Joseph Medbury " 100
Joseph Pidgeon " 79 ( the boy )
John Mealbury " 95
Parishes had their established Morris-dancers and sometimes
lent the dresses of the dancers to the neighbouring parishes.
In a rare tract of the time of Queen Elizabeth called "Plaine Perceval the peace maker of England" mention is made of a stranger, who not hearing the minstrelsie for the Fidling, the tune for the sound, nor the pipe for the noise of the tabor, bluntly demanded if they were not all beside themselves, that they so skip'd about without an occasion. .
The Whitsuntime week was always a favourite time for Morris dancing in England, the following description of a Morris dance occurred in 1614.
It was my hap of late by chance
To meet a country Morris dance
When chiefest of them all, the fool
Plaid with a ladle
When every younger shak'd his bells
And fine Maid Marjan with her smoile
Show'd how a rascal played the roile
And when the Hobby Horse did wicky
Then all the wenches gave a tity
But when the gan to shake their boxe
And not a goose could catch a foxe
The Piper then put up his pipes
And all the woodcocks looked like snipes, etc.
The Morris dance was one of the most applauded merriments of Old England. Robin Hood, Little John, Friar Tuck, Maid Marian, The Queen of the May, The Fool, the Piper, to which were afterwards added a dragon and hobby-horse were the chief characters that figured among in that ancient and grotesque movement. Will Kempe the comical and conceited Jest-monger acted as fool and raised many a roar of laughter by making faces and mouths of all sorts," and sometimes joining in the dances introducing his new favourite Jig and singing
Skip it and trip it nimbley, nimbley
Tickle it, Tickle it lustily,
Strike up the Tabor for the wenches' favour,
Tickle it tickle it lustily,
The fool goes in and fetchett out the Hobby Horse, and the Morris dancers who dance about, then says put your horse to it, reigne him harder, jerk him, sit fast, sit fast man, you friend with the Hobby Horse. (To the horses mouth was suspended a ladle for the purpose of collecting money from the Spectators) you friend with the Hobby Horse go not too fast for fear of wearing out my Lords tyle stones with your hob-nayles.
A Morris-dance in Jewellerey.
At the Accession of Charles I there belonged to the crown one salte of goulde called the Morris-dance". Its foot was garnished with six great saphires fifteen diamonds, 37 rubies and 42 small pearls; upon the border about the shank 12 diamonds 18 rubies and 52 pearls and standing about that were 5 Morris-dancers and Taborer, having amongst them 13 small garnishing pearls and one ruby. The Lady holding the salte had upon her garment from her foot to her face 15 pearls and 18 rubies; upon the foot of the same salt were four coarse rubies and 4 coarse diamonds; upon the border about the middle of the salt were 4 coarse diamonds 7 rubies and 8 pearls; and upon the top of the said salt 4 diamonds 4 rubies and 3 great pearls. (The Lady) had upon the tyre of her head 10 rubies, 12 diamonds, and 29 garnishing pearls.
By a special warrant of Chas. the 1st dated at Hampton Court Dec. 7th in the first year of his reign 1625, a large quantity of gold plate and jewels of great value, which had long continued as it were, in a continued descent with the Crown of England," were transferred to the
Duke of Buckingham, and the Earl of Holland, Ambassadors Extraordinary to the United Provinces, who were thereby authorised to transport beyond the seas in such manner as the King had previously directed these noblemen in private.
The splendid gold salt called the Morris-dance above described, jewelled with 9 great saphired 6 great pearls, 159 small pearls, 91 rubies and 51 diamonds and weighing 157 ounces and a half and half a quarter, was thus disposed of among the precious heir-looms of the crown, specified in the King's Warrant -
Notes from Conversation with Mr. Geo. Simpson (near Didcot) July 1908
William Hooper of Sherborne used to play the Whittle and Dub.
Fool. Round Jacket with tassels. T.F. on his back. Brewer's cap with long tassel hanging over his arm.
Dress of Morris dancers.
White pleated shirts, pleated all over, slashed with coloured ribbons; diagonal sash; white stockings and white breeches, which later on were discarded for trousers. Billy cock hat trimmed all over with ribbons. Handkerchief on little finger (some attached it to shirt cuff) quite short.
28 bells on each leg, 5 straps, 5 bells on each strap. Straps of red braid crossed at back of leg. Large bells at corners (3d a piece) Smaller between, different sizes mixed.
Dancers danced on and off 3 weeks at
Whitsuntune. That was the regular outing for the year except for special fetes.
Sherbourne always on Whit Tuesday.
Greensleeves a set dance.
Sherborne Jig was a morris jig
Bonny Green Garters ditto ditto
(see tunes in book)
For country v. contre danse and particulars of "the Hey" see Chappell II, 627.
For Morris Dance, etc. see Chappell "Trip and Goe"
Crying the Neck (F.T. Elworthy)
It is the custom at the cutting of the last field of wheat on a farm to take a handful of ears and plait the ears into a fanciful shape. This is "the neck" and is still to be seen in many W. country farm-houses, usually hanging to the kitchen ceiling or the bacon-rack, until supplanted by a new one at the next harvest.
The neck should be made of bearded wheat with 4 lissoms of plaits and be cried at the finishing of reaping. One man stands in the middle of the ring of reapers holding it up. The words begin very low: Wee....ae....un (bis) Wee....e....e....ae....a....a....neck (We have a neck) (third time) crescendo throughout. Repeated 3 times and ending with cheers. The neck must be kept dry and put on the supper table dry. The woman of the house endeavours to throw water over the man who carries the neck, and if he allows it to become wet he is not allowed to drink anything during the evening.
The neck in earlier times was probably plaited in the form of a figure. A traveller in 1598 speaking of Windsor says "As we were returning to our Inn we met some country people celebrating their harvest home. Their last load was crowned with flowers having besides an image richly dressed by which they signify Ceres. In Northumberland - similar custom - figure called the Kern baby. The loud and plaintive cry is similar to the cry of the Egyptians reapers, who according to Diadorus, when they cut their first sheaf thus lamented the departure of Isis the corn spirit and invoked her return.
The idea Mr. Elworthy continues was that in cutting the corn the spirit gradually retreated until there was no refuge for it but in the last handful; and as it was needful to cut the corn and to bury the seed so it was imperative to kill the corn spirit in order that it might rise again in fresh youth and vigour in the coming crop. Thus the wail is for the death and the subsequent shouting and dancing are the resurrection of the corn spirit
Minehead, Somerset, by F. Hancock.
September 1st 1909.
Brackly Morris Dancers. This well-known troup prides itself on having kept up the old custom of morrice-dancing through an unbroken succession of years, and one of the present company can boast a connection with it extending over something like half a century, whilst his sons are also being trained for keeping up the art when he shall fail. Probably no-where in the country could a better opportunity of studying the subject could have been afforded than that which was afforded by the people of Brackley on Whit-Tuesday, June 3rd 1884. I mention the date thus expressly because in many places it is supposed that the old custom had entirely died out years ago. I will attempt to give first of all some notice of the present company and then supply a few notes from other sources. Meanwhile let me ask that your correspondents will favour us with and corrections or additions they may be able to supply from their personal knowledge or any other authentic sources.
The Brackley troupe consisted of eight men, one of the company being a kind of Master of the Ceremonies
under the dignified and ancient title of "Fool"; and another beat time, while the remaining six kept up the dance which was performed in a variety of ways. A ninth individual deserves mention, since he occupied the place of Judas and collected the money which was placed by the donors in a large wooden money box through a small slot or opening in the Lid so that it could not be withdrawn. The "Fool" was dressed in different fashion from the rest, having on a broad, covered with gaudy trimmings ,and decorations a short muslin skirt with numerous flowers over his pantaloons or knicker-bockers which were of pink cambric and flowered propadore, and were so short as to exhibit to perfection the odd pair of stockings, one of which were black and the other pink. A muslin bodice or loose Jacket, for one can scarcely give the article a name which will correctly describe it, covered the upper part of the body, while streamers and rosetted added to the general display. To make his appearance more befitting his name he carried a whip on the lash of which were tied a number of old bladders most of which had already burst. This
corresponded to the bauble which the fool is said to have anciently carried. I am disposed to think this personage has gradually merged in one of the two characters of Fool and Maid Marian who at one time figured in the dances. The person who beat time was dressed in peculiar costume but during the dance kept up a constant accompaniment on his "tabor and pipe" - instruments which have already been associated with this kind of entertainment. The six performers were dressed white shirts and trowsers with high hats (in most instances) ornamented with bright coloured streamers across the shoulders bunches of coloured material covered with rosettes took the place of braces, while below the knees other adornments were fashioned by means of tapes. On these latter decorations were placed small bells which kept up a constant jingling as the dance was being performed. During certain dances each of the six performers carried a stick or wooden spear, and this was manipulated in various ways. Sometimes it was twirled round and round while the dancers approached their partners when each struck the others spear; at other times they were struck on
the ground before being brought in to contact with those of their comrades. In other dances the sticks were given up and the performers were supplied with a pair of white or coloured pocket-handkerchiefs formerly called napkins, which were flaunted by the dancer who held one in each hand and performed various gymnastic exercises therewith. Leg, hands, and in fact every part of the body were exercised in the performance of some of the more complex dances and the evolutions, which were executed with great precision proved quite attractive. When a new dance was about to commence the "Fool" would call out, Go on! Go on whereupon the troupe would begin again, reminding us that formerly one of the dances was called "Trip and go".
I am informed that many years ago the Brackley Morrice-Dancers were largely patronised and encouraged by a religious house that used to exist in the town. Unfortunately, nowadays the performers are frequently the worse for the patronage they receive during the day, and become incapacitated for dancing properly through partaking too much of Brackley ale. As is well known Brackley was formerly represented by two
parish churches - St. Peter and St. James being the patrons. The Church of St. James is
now represented only by a small Chapel and burial ground adjoining the station, but in the
days of its glory it is stated that a party of Morrice dancers presented a Communion
Service of silver, on the plates of which their names were very rudely scratched, the art
of engraving being then but little known. I believe the serviceis still preserved, and
trust this notice will lead to the publication of the names of the donors and the date of
their gift. Next week we hope to follow this notice with an historial study of the
Hilderic Friend. F.L.S.
Fist Series XXI
Morris or Morrice Dancers (continued from 1st S.XX) - The first question that arises is - whence the name, and what is the etymology of the name? The two fashions of spelling it are about equally balanced, and there is little doubt, but that the word is connected with the name of the Moors, who were the original performers in the dance - The Spanish name is Danza morisca. From the way in which the word was formerly written one might infer that morisco became moresque, i .e. Moor-like or Moorish - Then Moresk, Morice or Morris - From an old dictionary by Bailey, 1742, we learn that a "Morris dance (was) an antick dance, performed by five men and a boy in a girl's habit, with his head gaily trimmed up. Dr. Brewer tells us it was brought to England in the reign of Edward Ill, when John of Gaunt returned from Spain. In the dance bells were jingled, and staves or swords clashed. It was a military dance of the Moors or Moriscoes, in which five men and a boy engaged; the boy wore a morione or head-piece and was called Mad Morion. The Maid Marian is a corruption of Mad Morion." Various authoritiesinform us that the dance was formerly one of the great features of the May-day festivities when the principle characters were "Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Scarlet, Stokesby, Little John,
the Hobby Horse, the Bavian or Fool Tom the Piper with his pipe and tabor. The number of characters differed much at different times and places. In "All ' s Well that Ends Well" (ii. 2) the Clown says:- "As fit as ten groats for the hand of an attorney, - a Morris for May-day." See Book of Days, 1. pp. 630 - 633; Brands Popular Antiquities, 1, pp. 247-270; Dyers Folklore of Shakespeare, p.289 et seq. Our immortal Shakepere has a number of references to the dance which we may be allowed to quote here as he was in the truest sense a Midlander. In 2 Henry V1, iii. 1, the Duke of York says respecting Cade: -
I have seen
Him caper upright like a wild Morisco
Shaking the bloody darts as he his bells.
I have nowhere else met with so expressive a reference as this. In the modern dance as seen at Brackley, the actors at certain times leap or "caper upright" into the air as high as they can possibly go. In 1. Henry IV, iii. 3, we read, "And for woman-hood, Maid Marian may be the deputy's wife of the ward for thee." Nares (Glossary II, p.550) suggests that the allusion is "to the degraded Maid Marian of the later Morris dance, more male than female." See also the long description of the dance supplied by Gerrold, the
schoolmaster to King Theseus, in "Two Noble Kinsmen", III, 5, too long for quotation in this place. Mr Chappell tells us (Popular Music of the Olden Times, 2nd Ed., i. p.131) that "Trip and Go" was the name by which one of the favourite dances was known, but I have not yet ascertained by what names the various forms of the dance are now known. In addition to the works already quoted, I may refer to an article in the Folk-Lore Journal 1. 112-3 (1884), The Customs etc. ef Stafford, by Charles Henry Poole, pp.7 seq. In olden times a procession was formed at Lichfield on Whir Monday, which included the following. among other personages: -
Tabor and pipe decorated with ribbons,
Tom Fool and Maid Marian.
Morris dancers, dancing sarabands, clashing their staves, etc.
In illustration of the statement already made respecting the patronage formerly afforded by a religious house at Brackley, I may quote a few lines from Mr. Poole's interesting book: - "In the days or the Church ales, the morrice dance received considerable encouragement at the hands of the ecclesiastical authorities, who accepted it as incumbent upon them to provide secucular amusements as well as spiritual instruction, for the people under their charge. In proof of this we find numerous disbursements
recorded in old church registers, as having been made by the churchwardens from the parish funds, in support of the morris dance." We may refer the reader to Brands Popular Antiquities for such records, as we have not space to give them here. A tract was published in the time of Charles 1, under the title of "Mythomistes" in which,reference is made to"the best taught morrice dancer with all his bells and napkins." The Gentlemans Magazine has contained scattered references to our subject, which are now readily accessible in Vol. 1 of the Gentleman's Magazine Library, but I can find nothing particularly new or interesting there to add to the foregoing details. Brands Popular Antiquities after all contains the fullest and most detailed account of the morris-dance which I have seen, and I regret that it is not possible to make some extracts from that work. I find the leg ornmanets were formerly called garters, but those worn in Brackley are several inches deep; the bells were then as now fastened to these articles. In Lanehams Letter from Kenilworth or Kilingworth Castle, a Bride Ale is described, in which mention is made of a lively Moris dauns, according to the ancient manner: six dauncers, Mawd-Marion, and the Fool.
After the degeneration of the dance Maid Marion was personated by a Clown, which fact accounts for the custom, still observed by the Brackley "Fool" of dressing partially in the costume of a woman, with a different head-dress (or Morione ) from that worn by the dancers. The description of the "Fool" and "Tom the Piper with Pipe and Tabor", as found in Brand correspond in many respects with those characters as still maintained in the Brackley troupe. Possibly at some future date we may have a little more to say on this interesting subject.
Hilderic Friend, F.L.S.
First Series XXIII
Brackley Morrice Dancers (lst S, XI. XX1) - Through the courtesy of a modest friend who does not wish his name to transpire, I am permitted to add to our former stock of information a list of 22 dances performed by this ancient trouple of Moriscoes.
1. Maid at the Mill.
2. Lads a bunsham.
3. Queens Delight.
4. Bobbin and Joan
5. Mad Miller (or Mad Parson).
6. Country Garden.
7. Constant Billy.
8. Twenty-ninth of May.
9. Room for the Cuckoo.
10. Balance the Staw.
11. Saturday Night.
12. Bonny Green Garters.
13. Broad Cupid.
14. Trunk Hole (?Hose).
15. Old Woman tossed up in a blanket.
16. Black Joke.
17. Cuckoo's Nest.
(the following are called "single dances")
18. Jockey to the Fair.
19. Princes (or Princess?) Royal.
20. Lumps of Pudding.
21. Old Oxford.
22. Shepherds Hay.
I have no doubt but that some of your learned correspondents may be able to through light on some of the names. I have never seen a list published in any work bearing on the subject, but some (No. 8 for example)
evidently have historial associations, while others (as Nos. 8, 16, 17) appear to be comic. Bobbin (No. 4) is evidently connected with Robin (Hood), as in the old song We hunted the wren for Robin the Bobbin.
No morris dancing at Burford though they used to dance round Jack and the Green with handks. and bells, etc.
Little Barrington a great Morris place in old days. The whit- & dub-man man named Garlick. His son went up to London, was adopted by a lady, sent to College and became a Congregational minister. She left him over £3000.
"Jim the Laddy" (J. Hopkins) was the p & t player at Sherbourne (Glos.). No relations living. The Morris at Sherbourne given up about 45 years ago. In this neighbourhood, i.e. Barrington, Rissinton, Sherbourne, etc. all danced with sticks, handks. and bells, high hats, "plaited" shirts, etc.
There was a Morris at Idbury 40 years ago with a p and t man.
Field Town, i.e. Leafield, Buckland, Ducklington, Marsh (Witney) and Bampton great Morris places.
We have heard and read a good deal about the ancient Morris dances of Merry England, but in my opinion there is none older than Oxfordshire although the Midland counties in days gone by nearly all the villages had their sets of dancers but late years it has nearly all died out, but there is several places where it has been revived after having been dropped for several years but I think I may say that Bampton in the Bush is the only place left where it has been regularly kept up and never dropped and none at present is as sound and as steady and as much appreciated as ours. There is men now in it that as been dancing and taking part for more than 50 years and they as lads can remember their grandfathers say that Bamptonians were the oldest dances but formerly the dance was always played with the Wit and Dub a wooden whittle and a small drum but late years the musician has always played on a fiddle. There is about 30 very old tunes used which comprises of six-handed dances, pipe dances and
jigs besides several special fools and clowns dances. Some of the old songs are still known and sung amomgst the Townspeople which are very sweet and pretty music such as the Shepherd's Hay, Maid of the Mill, the Nutting girl, Green Bushes, Flowers of Edinburgh, Rose tree, Constant Billyboy, Trunkles, the Bride in Camp (Brighton Camp!), Old Tom of Oxford, Green Garters, Lumps of plum pudding, Highland Mary, Tommy make room for your uncle, Bobbing around (Bob & Joe) the old Myrtle Tree, Princess Royal, Jogging (Jackie) to the Fair and a score of others that are still ???? and well known amongst the present generation of dancers which the inhabitants are very proud of. But the Bampton dances has always been quite different from any othersd thats known, always using pocket handkerchiefs instead of sticks, the dress with the ribbons, artificial flowers and bells is very pretty with the old Squire as sword bearer and Tom Fool as clown there being one special day in the year Whit Monday, several Club day being use of them is still wsome old relics left which are prized by the oldest dancers I think you may say thet bampton is the oldest and only place where it is kept up annually without a break for upwards of foutr hundred years.
A fiddler and dancer
(Six dancers and a fool)
This William Wells is about 40 years of age. He wasancer in the Bampton side for some years, coming from a great Morris family. Afterwards he became the fool, and subsequently as now, he learned and plays the fiddle. He thus described the dress of the Bampton dancers.
An old time pointed high hat, soft felt, sometimes ordinary billycock hat. Now and ordinary box hat, with bunch of artificial flowers in front. Three rounds of red white and blue ribbons overlapping, tacked on by way of band,
tied together at back and hanging down behind as streamers.
Ribbons round arm above elbow and round wrist - also hanging down - of same colours but narrower.
Sash of dark crimson ribbon 3 inches broad hanging down at back, about a foot long. All club men, wore rosettes.
The fool in addition to the dress and hat (which I have in my possession) wore knee-breeches, Pads of bells on shoulders like epaulettes. Stocking on right leg white with longitudinal stripes red white and blue, on left leg with horizontal striped of different colours. Often striped the right calf to make it look different from the other. The fool was a good dancer - had his own Fools dance - and made the usual joke "Six fools and a Morris dancer". He was often so funny that he sometimes put out the fiddler and the dancers - on one occasion reducing them to a standstill.
No hobby horse in his time - never heard of one.
His mother could and did dance on occasion in the Bampton side - but not regularly and only very rarely. Except for her he never heard of a woman dancing.
Side accompanied by Ragman (now old Charles Tanner aged 66 who often "rests" a man by taking his place for a while) who carried the clothes, a man with the money-box, fiddler and sword-man. The latter carries with him a cake in a tin through which the sword is passed and held vertically, the tin resting on the hilt. On the point of the blade is a bunch of flowers called the mace ("Smell my mace, kiss my face") and below it a bunch of many coloured ribbons.
The cake-tin is 19 1/2in. in circumference (6 1/4in. in diameter) 2in. in depth up to points of crown (outside measurements). The top of the tin is serrated like a crown,
each spike being 1in. in depth. There are 48 spikes. At the bottom of the tin a whole is cut of this shape
and a sheath fitted into it through which the sword is passed. The sheath extends about 1/4in. above the spikes.
8 small slots are soldered at equal intervals outside the tin, a very little nearer bottom than top. A Ribbon is passed through each of these and tied with a bow with long ends hanging below tin. Three red, 3 blue and two white. Each ribbon about 17in. long and 3/4 in. in width.
The sword is a curved one -- probably an old cavalry sword. Blade 34 in. long, 33 in. from tip to hilt. The present one has been in use about 80 years.
In old days the Lady of the Manor presented
cake to the Morris men on Whit Monday but this is not now done. There is a separate tin for baking the cake in, without a sheath.
Sword man carried a pen knife with which he cuts off small pieces of the cake for strangers who are expected afterwards to contribute to the box. Maidens put the piece under the pillow to make them dream of their lovers.
Always danced in Whit week, first day in Bampton, the rest of the week in surrounding villages Of late no dancing after Monday. As old men drop out young men are taken on, but they must be grown up. They are required to practise every night for 6 weeks before Whitsun, when they are instructed by the old dancers. For this they pay 4d a week. For being late they are fined 6d., for being drunk 1/-. All fines are put into the box.
The old bells I bought from George Wells, Williams uncle. The more modern set from Jim Tanner. The bells were worn transversely tacked on trousers at top but hanging loosely at bottom ends.
Blackwell Morris Men
Mary Anne Cooper told me that her uncle who died at the age of 82, Samuel Cox by name, insisted on being buried in his Morris shirt. (And he did look so comfortable in it, poor Soul.) She has his bells which consist of 4 longitudinal strips of leather covered in front with red braid. Four bells on each strip. In between bells little dainty rosettes of different coloured silk are attached. (I have since purchased the pair of bells.)
They danced with sticks which were painted blue and white in zig zag manner. They danced Princess Royal under the name of Nelson's Praise which T. Gardiner sent to me. They also had a tune called the Blackwell Morris.
Although only 2 miles from Ilmington Blackwell Morris was quite distinct in its details from that of Ilmington.'
Blackwell Wake was week beginning June 23rd. A dancing booth always erected. The Morris men danced outside. They went for farm housen
Henry Sturch of Shipston on Stour, fiddler used to play Green Sleeves when they danced the cushion dance.
He called Three Meet the Half-way dance.
(Address: Anderton Yard, Stratford Road, Shipston on Stour.)
Field Town or Leighfield Morris Dancers
George Steptoe (87) an old dancer, told me they had high hats like gentlemen wear with cockades. Sticks. Dance the following dances.
Jug by the ear
Balance of Straw Old Trunk O
Old Marlborough None so Pretty (Jig)
Jockey to the Fair
Old Woman tossed up
They wore white shirts, breeches and white stockings and usual ribbons, bells, etc.,
Their musician, John Williams, played fiddle and whittle and dub but all preferred to dance to latter.
They had a sword and cake as at Bampton.
Mrs. Hathaway, widow of the fool, and sister-in-law to William Hathaway now in Cheltenham told me she has a daughter Elizabeth (Mrs. Edward Hathaway) now living at Crossed Hands, Chipping Sodbury who has a good set of bells.
Mrs. H, thus described the white shirts. A straight pleat down centre with little frills on each side. 4 or 5 tucks on each side, very narrow as narrow as could.be done. Frill about an inch broad.
"Didnt all have them but the best ones did.
Six men., fool, music, and man with box.
Her husband the fool used to go and do merriman for them. Then they had a merry come up. (Both expressions commonly used about here)
He always blacked his face. He had a stick on one end a bladder, on the other calves tail. He was called Fool, Master, or Squire.
Dancers revived by Sam Bennett about 3 years ago. Learned tunes from old whittle and dub man now dead. and dances as well as he could from old men in the village. Steps very poor, evolution, stick tapping and clapping, good.
I bought one of the original sticks (black withy stick 23 in. 'Long, 3 1/2 in. in middle tapering to 2 3/4 at ends. I purchased it from Mr Handy. His father-in-law wass the fool and
once drove off a furious dog with his bladder after which he was known as "Dog 'Andy".
Their old pipe and tabor player was Jas, Arthur now dead.
Charles Hughes (76) told me
Naunton dancers wore box hats, silk-fur hats, hard.
Plaited shirs, no frills that he Could remember.
Silk handkerchief round neck. Couldnt remember any special colour.
White cord breeches. Bells on the shins.
Called the fool Merriman.
Ribbons on hats and streamers.
Sold Wm. Hathaway of Cheltenham his first fiddle in exchange for a pair of boots worth 3/6. was a good fiddle.
My pipe was made by Danley of Andoversford, from whom Carter bought it. It was not a new one then and always was bound at bottom. Made of plum wood. The tabor was made by Carter himself. He got the parchment from an old drum and had the iron rings cast by an iron-man at Bourton. David Danley was the pipe man.
Geo. Humphries, Parish Clerk (72).
Danced the Morris as a boy. Stove-pipe hats wh. they pulled off to dance.(At Barrington always danced in hats except for jigs) ribbons tied round and streaming behind about 3 or 4 Inches. Clean white linen shirts.
Ribbons round arms. Set of bells on each leg tied with ribbons. White breeches and stockings.
Thats the contents of the dancers.
No sticks but handks.
Squire or Tom Fool dressed as comical as you could dress him. Carried a stick about 2 ft. long bladder on one end and cow's tail on the other. Drove the wenches back with former and men or boys with latter.
Sword bearer and rag carrier all in one and also (not quite sure) money box.
Sword only for show. Dressed in ordinary clothes.
Had a competition at Maypole on May day. Chedworth, Shipton and all Morris villages (there were many about there) all came and competed for prizes.
Thomas Larner (94) (in bed).
Remembers Morris dancing in Northleach but none for 50 years. Thomas Young used to play pipe and tabor for them.
High box hats with ribbons bound round and hanging down sides. A rag carrier. Squire with stick, bladder and cow a tail. Kept the wenches and men off the dancers. White plaited shirts. Bells on legs. Cord breeches and white stockings. Sticks and handks.
Lumps of Plum Pudding, Jockey to the Fair, Constant Billy, and Pipe dance.
Always on Whitsun week.
Most of them Northleach men.
After Thomas Young they had Jim the Laddy of Sherbourne. Said his real name was David Patrie.
Heard of Field Town by reputation.
Mrs. Howels of Yew Tree Inn remembered the Morris dancers when she was a child. They always danced at their Inn every Club Day or Feast. i.e. 3rd Wednesday in July. Long discontinued.
An inhabitant of Little Loudon remembered the Morris dancers very well. They came from Little Deane and danced on Popes Hill. This latter was a great war place. Two parties of people met on the hill day by day and asked Is it peace or war. One day it was war when blood ran down the hill in streams. He was told this when a little boy, now 55 years old.
Thomas Phelps (73) of Mayhill, an old Morris dancer. Gave it up about 30 years ago. Last time at Gunns Mill. Always danced a full week at Whltsuntide and at Club Feast. 6 men, no sticks no handks, clapped hands instead. Williams played fiddle, now dead. Had many dances including Green Sleeves which was a Pipe dance and also a, clapping dance. Cheltehham dancers once came to Huntly, they had a pipe and tabor player.
Tall hat decorated with ribbons round band, round top and diagonally.
Shirts covered with ribbons of all colours. back and front. Two sashes crossed diagonally and hanging down sides.
Ruggles not bells on the legs, fastened on to strips of leather and tied on with yellow ribbons. He always bought new ribbons each year - give em to the girls. Black trousers.
Fool with tail on end of stick 3 ot 4 feet long.
Swordsman with two swords, danced over them on the ground (Arthurs the Stratford fiddler told me he never did this, but danced a very
complicated sword dance, with a sword in each hand, to tune which I took down. This at Ruardean about 7 miles from Mayhill.)
Flagman carried flag 3 or 4 feet squre on pole about 4 or 5 feet long. Flag with initials of flagman, R(ichard) W(illlams) Gonders Green embroidered on it.
The flag was striped red and white.
The Foreman of the Morris was always the flagman.
Flagman and swordman were two top men of the Morris. They walked in front side by side with other four men in couples behind them as they marched from place to place. Couldnt remember tune (Arthurs gave me the Ruardean March air.)
Anne Roberts (85). Her mother used to dress 3 Morris dancers every year, the flagman, G. Harris and one of the Penns.
White shirts, sleeves and wrists tied with black ribbons about 2 in. broad, one on wrist one on elbow.
Broad ribbons (4 in.) pleated all over shirt back and front.
White cambric flag trimmed with ribbons. A large rosetLe in centre, 4 smaller rosettes at each corner of different colours. Flag about a yard squre. Not a long stick.
6 dancers. Fool with swords and flag-bearer.
Danced a full week at Whitsuntime and at three other Wakes in adjoining villages.
Had a fiddler but couldnt remember Arthurs coming to Play.
High box hats trimmed with ribbons. Velveteen breeches. White stockings.
(Mrs. Ellen Price, daughter of the Pennsnow living at Bilson Green, Cinderford.)
Danced with handks., not sticks.
Described procession with flags and sword at head as at Mayhill.
John Hitchman, Jonathan Harris, Edwin Gibbs and Thomas Wright, 4 dancers living, also Charles Benfield (68) the fiddler now living at Bould. (Have taken many tunes, songs and dances from latter.)
Rosettes and ribbons.
Trousers - anything you got.
Evidently a very rustic Morris set and one of the highest interest.
They danced Lord Sherbourne Jig
Willie and Nancy
and many other unusual ones.
(For further particulars see later.)
Mrs. Anne Morris (85) remembered Morris dancers, some of them Pershore men, others from her own village. They came round at Christmas when work was generally slack. 4 on each side as far as she could remember.
Fool with a bladder and a long hairy tail hanging out behind his hat.
They always blacked their faces. Wore shirts outside their clothes trimmed with all sorts of pretty ribbons all down back and front. Ribbons not bells round their knees. Trousers not breeches.
Concertina generally, but sonetimes "a cordial" with tambourine.
Sticks, sometimes handks.
Many villages round danced, Upton on Severn, Broughton, White Ladles Aston, etc.
John Powell (80) of Peopleton. Remembered dancers who always blacked their faces. Bells sometimes, but not on legs, thinks on arms.
10 or a dozen danced.
Not been going on amongst adults for 20 years. Now only boys at Christmas time. Concertina, once he remembered a fiddle. Always danced at Christmas time especially when out of work.
Mrs. Hill of White Ladies Aston.
Dancers blacked their faces.
A fool. Sticks not bells.
A violin with tambourine.
Mr. and Mrs. Brookes of Pershore said the adult dance died out 20 years ago. Did not remember black faces. They danced at Christmas time and went round for about a week from Boxing Day. Danced with sticks to a fiddle.
T. Howard of Manor Road, Brackley, a dancer as well as his brother.
White trousers, ordinary shirts. Diagonal ribbon across breast.
A rosette on each shoulder
2 on breast, 2 on back 4
1 on navel, 1 on back to correspond 2
2 on each side just above hip to tie 4
2 on hat, one on each side with 2 ribbons hanging down 2 14
"It took 14 rosettes to do a dress."
Bells, 5 strips of leather, 5 bells on each strip. Fastened on outside of leg, the first bar of leather was on the shin bone. Tied tight at the top but loose at the bottom.
Handk. was tied by its two diagonal corners and passed through the middle fingers.
Sollar (sallow or willow) sticks, 2 feet 6 in. or 2 ft. 4 in. long, peeled white.
They twirled the sticks by side, holding loose between thumb and first finger and moving wrist up down and round.
His daughter, a scullery-maid at Lady Knightley of Fawsley Park, Daventry, told him that Morris men from Northampton came to dance there when her mistress entertained the King.
Shirt with pleated sleeves and Irish front "let in".
At Chipping Campden the mummers fool used to announce himself thus: -
Here comes I as an per net
A great head add a little wit (nut?)
My head' s so big and my net's so small
Here comes I to please you all.
Ill sing you a song
It is not very long
But I think youll find it very funny
Dont be in a fuss
But pull out your purse
And give the poor mumper some money.
Words to second strain of The Triumph.
Step and fetch her
I have got her
You shant have her
Pretty little dear.
(John Mason at Stow)
Words to Sherborne Jig
Lumps of Plum Pudding
And pieces of pie
My mammy gave me
For Jumping so high
As I kissed Joan and Joan kissed me
As we went bobbing around.
Mr. Trill and his men told me the following, Dec. 27th 1909.
4 dancers with melodion and tambourine men. Black faces, with white paint, white lips etc. Fools tunic made of any gaudy stuff with loose trousers of same material. Box hats musician had large hat with feathers. No bells or handks, but short thick sticks. Used to wear smocks, breeches, white stockings and gaiters with soft hat, felt, Jim Crow hat after style of clerical hat. Used to have a fiddler.
Always at Christmas. Always remembered it so. Never missed. People say No Christmas without the Morris men. Used to have a fool. No fixed music. Any polka makes a good tune, Schottisches rather too slow. Trill learned dancing at Chepstow way, but his Morris dancing at Brimfield. Called stick tapping, napping.
Bledington Morris, Glos.
Fool had T and F on his cheeks marked in black. Bladder and cow's tail on stick, Box hat with top cut off, coloured rags and ribbons all over him. A dinner bell tied on the back of his trousers.
Once asked farmer (after dancing Glorisher) to leap frog over him and he stooped down. Farmer went to jump when Fool ducked down and farmer went sprawling.
Once met Lower Swell dancers. Two fools vied with each other. Farmer dared them to play pranks. The Bled. fool said they would see which one could hold his head in a rain-tub longest and proceeded to show him his own prowess. The other fool then did the same when the Bled. fool tipped him up clean into the tub.
[Newspaper cuttings pasted into the MS]
WASSAILING THE ORCHARD
Another superstitious custom now all but extinct, though once universal in the cider counties, consisted in "Wassailing the Orchard". On Christmas Eve the farmer started out laden with a pail of wassail at the head of his labourers to the orchard, through which they walked in procession round the trees singing a carol, and stopping to drink the health of the trees; at intervals sprinkling each of the best, as they reached it, with the wassail, and winding up by taking off their hats to the finest treo, and solemnly pouring the remains of the pail over it with a loud cheer. This custom was also known as the "Apple Howling", and traces of it remain in a game played by children in some parts who have a rhyme which is clearly a remnant of the old "Apple Howl":-
Stand fast root, bear well top
Pray, God send us a howling crop;
Every twig apples big,
Every bough apples enow;
Hats full, caps full,
Half quarter sacks full.
Of course, Herrick knew all about this custom, and dispenses his knowledge freely; in fact the Yuletide "apple howling" was precisely one of the occasions which one would expect to find the jolly old bard sharing in heart and soul. In Devonshire they dip a hot cake in cider, and then place it in the forked branch of an apple tree; guns arc then fired and cider thrown into the air, while the merry company shout:-
Bear good apples ahd pears;
Barns full, bags full, sacks full.
A SUSSEX WASSAILING
One who is qulified to talk by long experience of apple wassailing is old Richard Knight of the Sussex village of Petworth. For sixty years Mr. Knight has been an apple wassailer, and for 54 years he has occupied the important position of "Chief Wassailer. On the fateful evening every year the villagers gather in procession, carrying miscellaneous bits of gaspipe, or any hollow piece of tubing, which are known as "horns". At their head marches Mr. Knight, as chief wassailer, with a real horn of good old hunting variety, curved and sonorous. On his head is a hat defying description, bearing in its front a very rosy cheeked apple. His costume for the occasion is hardly more describable than his hat, and consists of bits of cloth of all colours with long streamers. "When Im in my dress I looks like Chinese labour," said the chief wassailer in the course of an interview in 1908. The procession winds its way to the village orchards and surrounds the largest apple trees. Then is recited this incantation, which Mr. Knight in rich Sussex dialect, repeated to his interviewer:-
Here stands a jolly good old apple tree.
Stand fast root! Bear well top!
Every little bough
Bear an apple now;
Every little twig
Bear an apple big,
Hats full, caps full,
Three score sacks full.
Whoop! Whoop! Holler boys!
Then the horns ring out, and wild shoutings and "youlings" or howlings are the preliminary to passing the hat. Time was, said Mr. Knight, when a bucket full of ale was placed for the wassailers, and even in these degnerate days they seldom youl in vain. Sometimes it is cherry trees, or plum trees that come in for the incantation, with appropriate changes in the wording. Bee-hives, if they exist in the orchards, come in for a quaint incantation.
Straw that had been used for strewing the churches at Christmas time was considered the best protection for fruit-trees. This and the wassailing of orchards is but a remnant of the dark ages and had, in all probability, something to do with the druidical ceremonies.
A LEICESTERSHIRE SUPERSTITION
In years remote, in the counties of Leicester, Hereford, and many others, it was customary for Romish and feudal superstitious ceremonies to be religiously carried out. On the eve of old Christmas Day thirteen fires were lighted in the cornfields of many of the farms, twelve of them in a circle, and one much larger and higher than the rest, round a pole in the centre. The fires were dignified with the names of the Virgin Mary and Twelve Apostles, the lady being in the middle. While these were burning the labourers retired into a shed or out-house, where they beheld the brightness of the apostolic flame. Into this shed they led a cow, on whose horns a large plum-cake had been stuck, and having assembled round the animal, the oldest labourer took apail of ale or cider, and addressed the following lines to the cow with great solemnity:-
Heres to thy pretty and thy bright horn,
God send the master a good crop of corn;
Both wheat, rye and barley, and all sorts of grain
And next year, if we live, we'll drink to thee again.
He then, after the verse had been chanted in chorus by all present, dashed the liquor in the cow's face. Poor crummie, as a matter of course, tossed her head violently, throwing the plum cake to the ground. If it fell forward it was a good omen that the next harvest would be a good one; if backward, that it would be an unfavourable one.
Sent me by C.M. Tite, Xmas, 1909.
Thomas Cadd (49) now living at Yardley Gobian.
I met him on Jan.14th 1910 at Woverton where he works in foundry - or "Siberia" as he called it. Didn't know his birth-place as his father was a regular "knock-a-bout". First remembers living at Preston-Bisset near Buckingham. Used, as a boy, to see Brackley Morris dancers once or twice a year and he and his companions used to imitate them. But their dancing was only a "mockery; they simulated dress by tying straw on one leg and hay-band on the other. This about 35 years ago. (Brackley men last danced about 23 years ago.)
Afterwards he moved about country, chiefly in Lancashire, at Preston, Oldham Ashton under Lyne, etc. and Leas (near Manchester). Then about 20 years ago came to live at Yardley.
A few years ago a Miss Robinson, a governess at (I think) Grafton House suggested that he should try and remember Brackley dances and teach them to Yardley youths. Lady Fitzroy (an old lady) wrote up to London for some tunes for he could only
remember one Brackley tune (the one he has sent to Miss Neale). As a matter of fact he said the Brackley men only had two tunes (!) They would play one for all their dances at one villages, and then the other at the next village. They had, he said, no figures in their dances, they merely "cut capers and zig-zagged" as the spirit moved them.
So in revising the dances he invented or "lifted" figures that he knew and made up four dances as "enjoyable" as he could make them.
Asked why four dancers. He said he knew Brackley men always danced in sixes but he said he found two sides of four each "made a better show".
He had no feeling of reverence or otherwise for tradition and did not claim any authority for his versions which he frankly owned were mainly his own invention and had very little to do with the Brackley dances. Indeed he evidently thought his own
improvisation far superior to the B. dances. Except for the one Brackley tune he has used any tune that seemed to fit, e.g. Campbells are coming, etc.
Cadd is a very nice man, sensible and modest and quite ready to give me any information I asked for. Made no secret whatever about the way he had made up the dances. He did not know any of the Brackley dancers. He had never danced with them or any other recognised Morris side, only with boys of his own village in "mockery", as above described. He knew the name or one Brackley man whom he called Tom Stutsbury.
Eynsham Morris Dancers.
S. Moulder, leader. Side danced to me on Jan. 20th at Eynsham. They have only one dance which they perform to various tunes, Brighton Camp, Cock othe North, Constant Billy, Nutting Girl, etc. It is a good dance and I noted it carefully after seeing it performed 5 times. Music, very indifferently performed on a mouth organ. The points of the dance were (1) extraordinary and persistent vigour (2) doubling of all figures (3) large amount of side-stepping (4) curious "cross- step" formula danced by all the side at conclusion of any strain (5) novel method of dancing All-in.
Nowadays dancers wear short smocks made of white Holland, pleated front, broad turndown collar. Usual ribbons, and high hats. Breeches, blue stockings and a rosette at side of each knee. No sticks. 18, bells on each leg.
Upton, Didcot, Berks
Mr. Geo Simpson (see p. ) is a native of Sherborne, Glos and all his dances belong to that tradition. They always had cake and sword borne in front. They danced on to ground in single file, then round the enclosure finally forming up for dance. In going off they did the same but in serpentine fashion as in Morris Off. In both coming and going they made their obediance by pulling forelock as noted and described in Orange in Bloom and other dances. Handkerchiefs tied with reeving knot to little finger as this left hands free to clap.
Especially prided themselves on their gallery which they used at all corners, i.e. at turns.
Another special feature of their dancing is the showing, waving handkershiefs one hand at a time, see Old Woman etc. Also this method of dancing - 2-handed Jig described in Go and List for a Sailor. Again curious normal Morris step with hop on 2nd beat in 4/3 and 6/3 steps. Sherborne Jig was their special and unique (so they claimed) dance.
Can't hold hands high enough in showing.
Abingdon. April 1st 1910.
James Hemming, 57 and William Hemming, 60.
High hat, silk ribbon or handk. for band with streamers at back. Flowers in front with
feathers if you like. White shirts with front, no pleats. White duck trousers.
Waist ribbon, attached to which were several ribbons about 18 inches long hanging
down nearly to the knees, some narrow, some wide. Ribboned doubled over
about 8 inches long (in single measure) on each shoulder, or shoulder blades, breasts.
Also elbow and wrist ribbons as usual.
Handkerchiefs white and tied to little finger.
No whit and dub. Used to be a fiddle, now a melodeon played by William Hemming.
Only one step, the polka, danced very clumsily and vigonously on the heels, feet being raised backward and stamped down heavily. James danced
and said that perhaps when he was younger he danced more on the toes, but couldn't be sure.
Hank. movements described in tune book.
Nothing new in figures except "change ends". Remearkeable for no Hey.
The dances clearly corrupt from forgetfulness. It was given up 7-10 years ago in regular style. The Hemming family always associated with it.
Dance said. to have been originated in 1700 when a black ox was roasted in Market Bury, was a rabbit bury in those days"(warren?). New dancers always accompanied by a man who carries on a pole the horns of the said ox ornamented with blue ribbons. Between the horns is an artificial mask made of wood and painted black, with date 1700 upon it. Dance takes place on 21st June. On June 19th (June 20th is June Fair day) election of Mayor. Voters must be residents of Ox Street and must pole between
6 and 7p.m. at Mayor's house. If no new candidate, old Mayor re-elected . At 7 Mayor seated in a chair decorated with evergreens is born on shoulders and carried in front of the procession up and down Ox Street. The procession consists of the following.
1. The Horn Bearer.
2. Mayor. Half-high hat decorated as above, smock frock, red neck-tie. A money box attached by a scarf round his neck. A sword (apparently a fencing foil) with cork on point, covered with a white rag; White ribbon tied round point and round hilt.
3. Ex-Mayor, similarly costumed carries the glass a wooden chalice-shaped cup with a silver bullock-heart in front with date.
4. Fool. Round white hat, face washed with flour, and dashes of red paint. A long smock, knee breeches with ribbons depending from knee, low-shoes with silver buckles, white or yellow stockings.
5. Musician, dressed in "plain way" with ribbons round his flat as described
6. Six dancers, dressed as described, carryinh handkerchiefs (no Sticks).
The procession stops before every pub. in Ox Street, of which there is a goodly number; It is not allowed to go out of Ox Street that day nor permitted to take money (c.f. Warning of Minehead Hobby tlorse.)
On June 21st at 7 a.m. one dance is done before the Mayors house, after which they work through the town in the ordinary way. In walking from place to place the Horns and the fiddler are in front of the dancers, the Mayor on one side, ex-Mayor on the other. The musician plays but there is no processional dance.
At 4 oclock they knock off for one hour during which they have dinner.
Before June 21st they practise once a week for six weeks an hour at a time in which
they go through all their 12 dances. Always practised at the house of the Mayor, who being, old dancer himself superintended the teaching.
Blackwell Morris (see p. )
Mrs.Cooper arrived this morning beaming. From an old friend - grand-daughter of the Fool of the Blackwell Morris - she had got this shirt - laid away for years, so it's grubby, but she wouldn't hear of its being washed "for it is ironed and folded in the old fashioned way" but you must know that the plaits in sleeves and front were originally starched. The owner was Jonathan Gaydon "the fool and a good 'un" - "the best that ever there was in the Morris - 'e done all, as ever 'e could for enj'yment." He and his wife Judy had 8 sons all Morris dancers - the last of which died eight years ago aged 84 years - so you can calculate the age of the shirt. It is from the widow of another son that Mrs Cooper got it. Ribbands were tied at elbow and wrist - a
sash across the chest, round the neck a fine silk handkerchief black white and yellow tied in a large bow with the ends streaming. Mrs Cooper's son has her old uncle's, values it very highly and keeps it under a glass shade. For all its size Mrs. C. says it would pull through wedding ring. Each man had his own stick painted to his fancy, it was their pride to decorate them highly. The Cooper family came originally from the Forest of Dean and brought the dancing tradition with them.
Mrs C. says that out in the country lying between Brailes, Banbury and Kineton she believes there are Morris dancers. You will appreciate the stitching of the shirt.
(Extract from a letter from Mrs. Stanton, Jan. 1910)
Basque Morris Dancers.
I do not know if you have heard of the Basque dances? If you have no knowledge of them I believe that what I am about to describe will interest you greatly.
On Sunday, Jan. 50th 1910, there came into St. Jean-de-Luz a troop of 12 young men from the Basque hamlet of St. Jean d'Yrube, near Bayonne. They were performing in the streets an ancient Basque dance and its similarity to our English Morris was extraordinary. The dancers were 8 in number dressed in white. Many coloured ribbons hung down their backs and were tied round their arms above the elbow. The outside seam of their white trousers was sewn with little bells. They wore the Basque shoes - something after the style of a bath slipper with fibre soles - and on the toes little bells appeared. They carried little sticks tied with ribbons and decorated with bells. On their heads were red Basque berets (the national hat). The leader carried a large blue and white flag on a pole which must have been a considerable weight, but
which appeared not to trouble him in the least, for he was as light and as agile as a ballet dancer.
Besides the 8 dancers appeared 2 young men in white trousers, red coats and berets. These two were armed with collecting boxes, but joined in the dance when business allowed them.
The musicians consisted of two men in dark coats and white trousers. One played a clarionette, the other a side drum.
The dances were as follows:-
(1) All in single file followed the leader. Two polka steps forward, two backward. A quick shuffle; each foot being in turn thrown out and pointed in front.
2 polka steps forward 2 back.
A complete turn and jump in one movement, or nearly so.
Then on again, sometimes in a "snail" sometimes straight forward as the leader chose.
Curiously suggestive of Morris Off, but all done in a lighter and friskier spirit.
Then the tune suddenly changed and (I suppose) another dance began.
(2) The men broke into couples facing one another, but each couple apart. Then began
4 plain steps backward,
" " forward , till face to face.
Then sticktapping, twice on one side of the partner's stick, once on the other side. This was repeated once or twice and came to an abrupt end.
The music of No.1 was a simple major tune. The rhythm is now ringing in my head for the drum could be heard all over the town. The drum beats were as follows: -
The music of No. 2 was this
I learn from a Basque woman that the performance is called Le Saut Basque; that it is very ancient, that it is now dying out; and that woman never take part in it.
I learn from a gendarme - also a Basque - that the dancers are young men from the same village (St. Jean d'Yrube). That the dance is performed once or twice a year, generally (as now) at Carnival time. He also told me that many of the Basque villages round had a company of young men dancers.
What chiefly surprised me was the resemblance between their tunes and ours. I should have expected something more Southern in their music. Yet our Morris step "goes" perfectly to their rhythm.
The chief dissimilarity was
(1) The feet were not noticeably lifted from the ground.
(2) There was no swinging or waving of the arms.
(3) The step was lighter and less plodding than ours.
In a word it seems to show the Morris nearer the Moorish, not far removed from its native land and untouched by our Northern yeoman influence.
Letter from Miss Violet Alford, St. Jean-de-Luz. 1910
Miss Alford saw the French basques from St. Jean de Luz dance and also some Spanish basques from Guipozcoa at a Pelota match.
The French basques were 12 in number, 8 dancers, 2 collectors and 2 musicians. The 2 collectors sometimes joined in the dance. The dancers wore white trousers (duck) and white pleated shirts, white basque shoes and the national hat the Basque Beret (blue). Bells outside seams of trousers and on toes of shoes. Attached to ribbon pinned between the shoulders on the back were many ribbons of' different length width and colour, hanging down to the waist, completely covering the back. Diagonal scarves of broad silk or ribbon (folded) of any bright or startling colour. When s he saw them dance they didnt use handks, but in some dances, e.g. Dantza Corda, they do. They used sticks, one to each dancer. The sticks were small, twisted with ribbons with bows and bells at each end. They tapped very quietly and delicately.
They began with Morris Off to Dantza Corda, the leader with French flag on a pole going in front.
Step 6/2, very light, jumping and turning completely round at every 8th bar. No hand movements. they hold sticks with two hands in front of things and move arms slightly, rather like s.b. and s.f., but with elbows very bent.
This is called the Saut Basque though danced to Dantza Corda. Never saw them dance a set dance to Saut Basque. (Tune derived from Waiter) Musicians walk anyhow behind, one with clarinet, the other side-drum slung round shoulders.
Having arrived in front of an Inn the dancers break into a circle, face in pairs, and strike sticks to Makkila tune
sideways as in Shepherds Hey. They do this once or twice throuhg the tune, then dance round in the circle to Dantza Corda, then go off to Morris off. This is the only dance the French Basques perform.
Spanish Basques. Costume very similar, but red berets instead of blue. Also two scarves of rose and scarlet hanging in a loop from shoulders over the chest, like an M.V.O. order. Leader carried a Maypole instead of a flag.
8 dancers, the leader and 2 musicians. (Collectors absent because dancers engaged by Pelota management.)
The Maypole Miss Alford thought was a modern addition. They plaited, etc., no distinctive tune.
Each man had two sticks, larger than the French ones, painted grey, without bells or ribbons. They struck sticks very violently and constantly broke them, the leader supplying dancers with new ones. They arrived to Dantza Corda, not dancing but marching - the leader in the middle, with the dancers in four couples behind. The partners were widely separated so that the formation formed a square.
They danced in front formation, 4 per side, the Makkila, but not to the Makkila tune, but another much more elaborate, full of runs and arpeggi. Began with once to yourself to a different tune. Then Foot-up, in front formation, moving sideways, 4 bars up, 4 bars down, ending with immense leap holding sticks across thighs like the French basques, and
not raising them more than they could help. After Foot up, they struck with Makkila. First No.1 with both sticks struck both sticks of No.2 on right then on left, then high, then low (right and left). Dancers then separated and struck their sticks under their things, behind, etc. as in Shepherd's Hey Jig. Then the two lines changed very suddenly to a formation at right angles, done in a moment.
Hitting then resuming. They then broke up into two teams of four each, then hit up and down as before, but couples striking at different times, so that two of the couples were always hitting up and two hitting down simultaneously.
Performed these evolutioms several times in each position. Top couple also ran outside (cast off) and struck sticks with each other, and then ran (not danced) back. Then bottom couple did ditto, the other two couples meanwhile remaining stationary.
The dancers then performed other Spanish dances, Jota (Hota) and fandangoes with castanets to waltz tunes. Directly they discarded sticks and took their castanets everything seemed changed; character and atmosphere completely altered,
Miss Alford got much information from a Basque waiter, (Elichessart by name) and also all tunes. She derived the Makkila also from the French Basques; Dantza Corda from all three. The Sept Sauts dance and tune from waiter only who thus described it.
Danced in single file at 4/2 step, one bar forward, one bar backward, but always advancing a little. Possibly a turn at 8th bar (not quite certain). At end of 16th bar one enormous leap into the air with straight legs. At second time 2 leaps, 3rd time 3 leaps and so on up to seven.
At Espelette, almost on Spanish frontier, they used to black their faces. There are sand dunes planted with fir trees by Napoleon to prevent
sand from encroaching. They take the resin from these trees, burn it and hold their faces in the black smoke. This information derived from an old Basque, aged 80, who said dances were falling into disuetude owing to superior attraction of Carnival dances. He saw the faces blackened as recently as 60 years ago. Later on they gave up the practice, finding it easier, he said, to use the Carnival masks for a disguise. The dance unlike all the others had no basque name. It did not seem to belong to them. Miss Alford regarded it as an intrustion.
In 1490 when Ferdinand and Isabella conquered Moors, all the latter were driven out except those who consented to attendMass. These latter lived apart under the name of Moriscoes. Later on, circa 1619, another fanatical wave arose and Moriscoes and Jews expelled. Some went into Portugal, others North, but a party of both settled
in Basque country near Bayonne where thore is a lake now called Lac Moriscot.
There wore Moors as far north as Pampelona southern spurs of the Pyrenees in what is now Spanish Basque country. They spread as far west as Portugal and as far east as Eaux-Bonnes. At the latter place they still dance up to church door where they are received by the Priest, go in and hear Mass and then depart dancing.
Stick dances by men alone.
Some dances end with a wild cry.
The Dantza Corda with handkerchiefs, but by men and girls.
These dances as far south as Eaux- Bonnes, as far west as Portugal.
Sometimes a hobby-horse is used (see p.c.)
An extra figure of Saut Basque is as follows. A man accompanies dancers carrying
on his back a Spanish skin bottle of wine. He runs through the line of dancers, bent and
they all hit the wine bottle with their Makkilas. After which they drink the wine. (Miss A
did not see this.)
Le Mahlaila Dantza (Danse des Bretons) same as mabbrook with middle and third sections (see letter)
[Two picture postcards pasted into MS. First is entitled:-]
Groupe de Danseurs Basques se rendant a Biarritz.
Une Fete Basque. Danses d'ensemble par les Bas-Navarrais.
[Picture postcard pasted into MS entitled:-]
Danseur de la Soule- Saldi - Le Cheval.
[Picture pasted into MS entitled:-]
Le Saut Basque.
I had a talk with the daughter of one of the Gaydons - the family of 7 sons of old Jonathan and Judy Gaydon who were all Morris dancers, the last of whom died 5 years ago at the age of 84.
The shirts (like the one I sent you) were of lined spun on a hand-loom - they were starched very stiff - another shirt worn under that they might stick out.
The sleeves were tied at the wrist, elbow and midway between wrist and elbow with ribbon in the following order; right arm, yellow (at wrist, red, green; left arm, red (at wrist), green yellow.
The neckerchief of fine soft silk (her father's was yellow, the ends embroidered with green and red flowers) tied in a large bow with floating ends.
Her father gave a guinea for his bells, they were 3 rows of 4 bells in each, mounted in ribbons, but old Jonathan's (the grandfather) wore 7 rows of bells on webbing.
Extract from letter by Mrs. Stanton, April 1910.
About 70 years ago a set of women Morris Dancersused to dance on Whit Monday. They were mostly farmers daughters, girls of 18-20, and were under the escort of a amn who looked after them. They wore headdresses of ribbons and scarves, short skirts and bells on their legs, of the same kind as the male dancers and carried white handkerchiefs. With them went a clown or "squire" with bladders or cow's tail and a man playing the pipe and tabour. Their names were
Jane Hern Mary Knight
Charlotte Cross Mary Couling
Squire. Robert Tacket of Charlbury.
One day they danced on the top of the church tower.
(From John Corbett, 88, of Spelsbury Aug 1894)
Extract from Manning MSS sent me by Sir Ernest Clarke.
Kirklington Lamb Ale.
This feast is said to have been originally kept up by the proceeds of some lands left to the parish, but where or what extent these lands were no one now knows. Before the feast a supply of ale brewed as it is said from the barley and of crown cakes made from the wheat grown on these lands, was laid in. Of late years however the ale was brewed by Sir George Dashwood, Lord of the Manor, at his house at Northbrook, now pulled down. The Lamb Ale was kept up to 1858, and for a few years afterwards the Lord of the Manor used to pay £2.12/- on the feast day to the poor of the village, but this payment has since been discontinued.
The festivities began with a procession on the Monday after Trinity Sunday. The centre of the ceremonies was the bowery a shed made of green boughs set up on the village green, where ale was sold for the nine days of the feast without a license, the proceeds going towards the expenses incurred. The Procession was as follows:-
(1) A man carrying a live lamb on his shoulders, its legs being tied together with blue &
pink ribbons, and blue ribbons round its neck. The lamb was, if possible, the first born of the saason.
(2) The Lord and Lady gaily dressed and decked on alternate days with pink and white, and blue and white ribbons. The Lord had a tiny money-box slung over his shoulders by a string, called the Treasury wherein to collect money from the onlookers. The Lady was chosen by the Lord and his mates and was hired for the whole feast. Both of them carried Maces.
(3) A Fool called the Squire. His dress was spotted like that of a clown and he carried a long staff with a bladder at one end and a cows tail at the other wherewith to keep a ring for the dancers.
(4) A band of 6 Morris dancers, dressed in top hats, finely pleated white shirts, crossed with pink and blue ribbons, and having a rosette of pink and blue on the breast and back; white moleskin trousers which were strapped up below the knee; fastened to the straps were squares of leather cut into strips to which were seven lattern bells. Half the dancers wore treble bells, 40 of which were carried by each man and half wore tenor bells, 20 to each man. There
were three figures danced, the steps being those of the old Country dance, the men standing in two opposing ranks. The first figure was danced without any additions, in the second the dancers carried handkerchiefs which they waved about sometimes holding the ends of each others handkerchiefs and forming a long string; in the third figure the dancers carried sticks which they clashed together or struck on the ground in time with the music. Within a certain number of neighbouring villages these Morris dancers would travel about for a week at a time to the various village feasts, usually Whitsun week. Encroachment on the country danced by another band was bitterly resented and often led to free fights in which the sticks used in the dancing were brought into play.
(5) A Fiddler.
(6) A dub and whittler (described as usual)
(7) 2 men carrying forest feathers. These were wooden clubs about 3 feet long, covered with leaves, flowers and rushes, and trimmed with pink and blue ribbons. The procession started from the bowery at 11 oclock and
went to the Ladys house to call for her. From that time up to nine oclock at night she was under the Lords charge after which hour she was at her own disposal. At stated times in the day the Morris dancers would give an exhibition of dancing, but before beginning they and the Lord would go round the onlookers, carrying each a crown cake on the top of his hat (Those were about 9 inches in diameter and consisted of an outer crust of rich currant and plum dough and a centre of minced meat and batter). They were not intended for sale and the spectators gave money merely for looking at them. If any one wanted to buy one he was charged 2/6. If not sold by end of the feast they were cut up and divided among the Lamb Ale boys.
The Lamb was carried in procession every day till Wednesday when it was killed and made into pies. Into one pie called the head-pie was put the head, with the wool attached, and tills pie was reserved and sold for 1/-. The other pies were cut up and distributed. At the end of each day the money collected was counted up and given to the head Morris dancer who was also responsible
for the safe keeping of thee maces, treasury and funds during the whole year.
The Maces and Treasury were last held by Thomas Hawkes of Kirtlington, now dead (1894).
(From Mr. Mannings M.S.)
[Rest of page contains a brief index to the MS - this has not been transcribed]
[Continuation of index as page 129 - not transcribed]
Thomas Barlow ( 70 ) used to dance. He danced to me (April 1910) The Cuckoo's Nest, Nelsons Praise (Jig) and Shepherds Hey (Jig). Not a good dancer, too old, so did not note steps. He used many back-steps and right and left across and the gallery. He dances Broom Dance and Green Sleeves,
The Blackwell Morris stopped in 1867 when the fiddler died - struck by lightning.
He also showed me Constant Billy and Old Molly Oxford (Jig).
Tom Harris used to dance but could not remember any steps to speak of. He said some of the Gardiner girls (Toms sisters) Lillie, Prue, etc. used to dance, "put on their brothers breeches, just for a game and cut all their in fine style - they wernt so proud then.
He danced (used to) broom dance to Green Sleeves. And gave me the words they used to sing (see word book).
Timothy Gaydon. Last survivor of a celebrated family of Blackwell Morris dancers. I couldn't prevail upon him to dance to me as he was too shy. He did a few steps exactly in the usual manner (April 1910).
Michael Johnson (68) now living at Ilmington is one of the three surviving dancers of the old Morris.
He was a caustic critic of the present dancers who only started about 3 or 4 years ago. He said their step was all wrong. They come back on their heels directly their toes touch the ground, as of course they shouldnt. You cant buckle your knees in the Morris. They should get some sticks and splint them on their legs and that would stop em bending their knees. They don't know how to dance. No side step.
Tom Arthur the old and original tabor player told him that the best way to learn the Morris step was to stand in a sheep rack, put your hands on the rails and learn to dance without bending the knees (This was probably intended to prevent the side roll which is so marked in the Ilmington dancers.) Johnson further more said They dont do the figures proper either, and the proper rule is to turn outwards and then shake leg and make bells ring. Not exactly the right tunes.
Only one of the side, Robertson, used to dance jigs. The present men they cant dance em.
Robertson used to dance over the pipes with a pair of womans patterns on his feet. They never had a hobby horse. He said that they used red, white and blue sticks, but when he showed his to me - he had two - they were both black and exactly like the one in my possession.
In one set dance they used to kneel down.
He thought very little of Sam Bennetts playing.
He said He gets across the time and makes it very okkard.
William Andy (73) is the only other old dancer living in Ilmington. He is a great crony of Michaels and fully bore out above remarks. He said he never helped Sam and had never danced since Tysoe Club about 50 years ago. (Many people - Sam included - say that this was the last time the old dancers went out in the old way. But it seems they got together and danced at the 2 Jubilees.)
Michael Andy the third surviving dancer is now in Birmingham.
Wm. Andy said the last time he saw Sams men dance he turned round to Johnson and said
It isnt hardly the step is it?
The old dancers wore dark cloth trousers, white shirt, diagonal scarf hanging down over one side with bow. Nothing on head.
Michael Johnson danced the step to me exactly as Kimber dances it.
Sole survivor Farebrother (83). He told me the Toddenham Morris was discontinued about 50 years ago. They used no sticks and wore high hats decorated with ribbons, white shirts, trousers, bells, diagonal scarf, rosettes, elbows and wrist ribbons.
Edwin Clay (old loom worker) once danced with Brailes Morris which stopped about 40 years ago. They wore garters and bells, rosettes cap wi th red ribbon. Sticks and handkerchiefs. They danced Constant Billy, Shepherds Hey, etc. and same Morris men danced the Jigs.
A very old man said they danced at Whatcot but he was too young to remember them. His father told him about them.
Chipping Campden Morris
Dennis Hathaway from whom I noted Morris tunes in Jan 1909 (Nos.2047-2051) has trained some boys to dance. These I saw in April 30th 1910 and noted (2477 - 80). He told me that the Campden dances proper were discontinued 50 years ago. The dances he had taught were those that he had seen the Longborough men dance at Stow and elsewhere when he was young (he was a native of Condicote) and those that he learned from his grandfather-in-law who was an old Campden dancer (now dead). So far as my investigations go, none of the dances I saw were Longborough dances, so if they have any traditional origin it must be derived from Campden. Hathaway said the old dancers wore white breeches, blue stockings, old fashioned web braces. No hats. White Handks. as large as we could get them, attached by reeving knot on middle finger.
Henry Taylor (68). Last time danced at Jubilee when Chas. Benfield came over from Bledington and brought three Bould men with him. H.T. always danced near-side top, i.e. leader. Tom Tufley of Shottery is a great friend and fellow Morris dancer. Geo. Ackermann is another. He lives at Longborough but was not a first rate dancer - never followed it up! The fools often did Jigs - we called em Squires.
Told me story of a fool who stood near a kennel with a fierce dog chained. People warned him to get out of reach. He wouldnt. Then dog suddenly sprang out upon him. Fool lightly jumped aside and into kennel where he put his face out with hands in front and grinned like a dog. This so frightened the dog that he were never no good at housekeeping after that!
Talking of the Bidford men he said he didn't think much of em. They was too clumsy.
[continued at f140]
Mr. Henry Taylor chief survivor of Longborough Morris. Danced Constant Billy and Country Gardens with me in a field at Condicote where he was working on May 2nd 1910 (see 2481-3).
He said they only used to dance in Whitsun week. They wore caps or high hats. Plaited shirts, two, one to suck the sweat up. Diagonal scarf, 2 rosettes on shoulders, band round the middle, ribbons on breasts. Trousers, but breeches and blue stocking were the right things. Three vertical rows of bells on each leg, tied with green and other coloured ribbons.
They only danced whole rounds in skew-corner dances.
They carried handks but no sticks, clapping instead.
Taylor said that Longborough Morris was very much like Bledington Morris except, that the fomer did the jump every two bars throughout whereas the latter only jumped every 4 bars. They often danced together. He showed me a caper
step (r.t.b., etc.) which was very similar to that danced by Bledington men, only he called it Fore Capers. 30.IV.10
cont. from page [continuation from f138]
Too heavy on the ground. He was asked by Bidford men to dance a week with them for 10/- and his keep. But the Squire for whom he worked wouldnt let him off saying "dancing was all stupid nonsense.
They always put the tall uns in front, short uns behind.
They used to go up to a quiet lane with the fiddler and practise night after night between Easter and Whitsunday. 8 men, dancing, ragman and money box, fiddler and squire.
Danced Heel and Toe, to Belle Isles March. Also Highland Mary.
Cant dance in heavy shoes - cant get off the ground. I use light shoes, well-nailed. Must have nails when you dance at Stow as stones so cruel.
In Sherborne Jig you ought to touch with your
twice not once as Simpson did.
In jumping start off both feet and keep feet touching side to side on ground. Put your best men on odd side and the duffers on even side. We never cared so long as we had three good uns.
Talking of the late King Edward VII he said He been a good old fellow, that eare. He wer a paace-maaker.
North Leigh Morris
William Partlett (79)
They used to dance to John Lanksbury's fiddle who came from Ramsden. (?)
Ceased dancing at North Leigh 40 or 50 years ago.
Fool (face blacked) Charles Green.
Handkerchiefs not sticks.
Two men jigs, still, not walking round.
Old Woman tossed up.
White trousers, ribbons on bells and round high hats.
Billy Brown used to play pipe and tabor and used to come over from Handborough to teach North Leigh men.
He danced to me and and showed me side step and ordinary step with straight leg. You
must step out forward. Youve got to shiver your legs in the capers. Itll fetch out the sweat on you. Fred. Gardner (now living at Corn St. Witney) was a good dancer, as lissome as a cat, an out and out dancer, like on wires.
Used to be merry in the old days. Different new in the villages. Not no neighbours; not friends now as they used to be.
He once went thrashing with a flail in a barn for a fortnight at 1/4 a day or 8/- a week. That was since he was married.
Joseph Druce, 80.
They used to have three sides at one time. One side composed of one family named Fisher. Joseph and his two brothers used to dance. 20 years since they stopped. He danced every so many years.
No sticks, only handks.
Drum and pipe or fiddle.
Very proud of it and very proud of Ducklington Morris. Neither Bampton nor Field Town so clean as we. We had clean shirts every morning.
He mentioned Jockie, Princess Royal, Nutting Girl, Old Woman (set dance and Trunkles. He sang several tunes and danced Trunkles with me. Very much as ours but with more sets of capers.
John Lanksbury played pipe & tabor as well as fiddle.
We used to learn songs and dances at the plough tail. Often used to whistle for
dancing. Always had dinner first before I whistled or it made my head ache.
Insisted on straight leg in the Morris step.
Set-dancing as different from Morris as chalk from cheese.
In Morris dancing it was 1.2.3. all day long.
They usually danced Mon.,Tues & Wed in Whitsun week.
Began each morning at 8 o'clock by dancing Green Garters round the May pole, before going away for the days outing . May pole put up every year in different place in village. A tall pole stuck firmly in the ground and a long thinner pole tied to the top of it, making in all 20 or 30 feet high. Decorated with Laylocks and Golden Chain (Laburnam ). One or two ribbons on the top to blow about. No ribbons to hold and dance round with.
Some would dance through a pair of shoes in the three days outings.
They had a man who carried sword and cake and box. Also a fool.
The latter a very good one. On arriving at a farm he would spit on his hands and say, Here we be come again Ma'am. Want a drop of your nice beer Maam.
Generally out of pocket over the dancing - mush shure to.
Balance the Straw was one of their Jigs.
They used to sing to Shepherds Hey
I can whistl
And I can play
I can dance
The Shepherds Hey.
Plaited shirts, diagonal scarfs, high hat with ribbons. Trousers or white breeches as white as their boots.
One dancer was as stiff as a poker he was. He could make the bells rattle.
Used to buy bells at Stow Fair.
Occasionally danced at a Sillalco[?] but usually only at Whitsnntide.
Practised from Easter to Whitsun twice a week.
Great talking now about Morris. Itd be a living in London now these days Im thinking.
Thomas Scaife, sole survivor of sword dancers.
Dance discontinued for 25 or 30 years. They danced with swords about 3 feet long, 1 1/2 in. wide with wooden hilts, blade by Blacksmith Henry Richardson. Sword not pointed but ended in a heart shape, thus
They had a fiddler or conertina player.
8 men to dance
2 to beg
2 to play (drummer as well as fiddler)
1 to pack horse, i.e. carry the clothes.
They danced about the New Year, 5 or 4 days together.
First round in a ring
Fasten swords when Merriman came in and took swords on his head in centre of
ring. Always a ring. Took about 5 minutes in performance. You had to mind what you were doing to keep it right. Can dance it with six, but six swords cant be fastened so strongly. They usually danced to The Girl I left behind me. No singing.
They practised at night in the school. Scaife was foreman. They wore white jackets trimmed with red, white trousers, or overalls with red stripes down the sides. Round hats or caps trimmed with red.
Scaife promised to try and get me one of the original old swords.
The following account is given in the village Log Book written by an old village worthy, John Croft, plumber, painter, glazier, zinc and tin-plate worker from 1843-1885. He was aged 76 when he wrote the log book in 1892. The book is now kept at the Mechanics Institute.
I am told that 70 years ago Kirkby was noted (it was a general custom at that time amongst the villagers at Christmas for a week or two) for sending out a first rate team consisting of six dancers with each a sword in his hand, a fiddler and a drummer and marshalled by Tom Gregg who also acted as clown all being dressed in ribbons and all the gay colours procurable. The dancers having formed in line shoulder to shoulder and the music playing, the clown commences to march round singing:-
You noble spectators wherever you be
Your attention I big and I crave
Its all my desire that you make a big room
And abundance of pastime you'll have.
I am the second Sampson in Judges youll find
Who delights in his darling so dear
What a blockhead was I for to tell her my mind
So gallant and quick you shall hear.
Then continuing marching round when he comes to the first he makes a big scroll on the ground with his large wooden sword as a signal he shall follow when they march round singing:-
Here comes the man that laid (foul) hands upon me
And (by him) I was grieved to the heart
As I laid asleep on my dear darlings knee
O the barber was playing his part.
Then marching round again the second dancer turns out and they continue marching round and singing:-
The seconds his brother, you might think they were twins
I thought by the world they would fight
When these two Philistians seized on me
You'd have thought theys ha ruined me quite
Then the 3rd dancer turns out and they march round singing:-
The third is a man of so more (much) (some) milder blood
Some pity theres lodged in his breast
He oftentimes threatened to do me some good
But he dursnt for fear of the rest
Then the 4th turns out and they continue singing:-
The fourth he comes on like a ranting young lad
Hes like his Majesty stands (some majestial stand)
It was he that gave orders that I should be polled
So they fastened (fettered) my feet and my hands.
Then marching on again the 5th man turns out and they continue singing
The fifth was (is as) cruel as cruel can be
The others and him did devise (revise)
It was he that gave orders I should no more see
So they instantly bored out my eyes
Then next the sixth turns out and they continue marching round singing:
The sixth is no better at all than the rest
He was the first breeder of strife
If any of you there had been in my place
Youd been glad to comed off with your life.
Still marching and singing;
These are the six lads (lords) that first laid hands on (ruined) me
Without the consent of my dear
But I will come even with them by and bye
And so gallant and quickly you shall hear
When they were all merry carousing with wine
The first one for Sampson did call
He pulled down the house and slew all at that time
So that was an end of them all.
These here six actors bold
Neer came ont stage before
But they have done their best
And the best can do no more
Youve seen them all go round
Think on em what you will
Music! strike up and play
Toad wife of Dallowgill.
After having sung this very comical ditty the dancers taking hold of the point of each others swords jumping over them and going through many other antics and manoeuvres finally interlock them into a sword lattice work which they hold up and all danced round the Clown going round with the hat and the music playing as they marched off
Ri folder diddle O, ri folder ri folder day
Ri folder diddle O ri fol a
Shout lads shout heres a hoora.
A remnant of what used to be marshalled by Tom Wood made a muster and formed a very prominent feature in the pageantry and procession on the occasion of the Ripon Millenary Festival hold in Studley Park in 1886. They performed on the green at Fountains Abbey before the Marquis of Ripon and before thousands of people on the two days of those memorable proceedings and were much applauded. Since that time, I am sorry to say this grand old Christmas custom has fallen still further into disuse and that we may now consider a revival hopeless.
(end of extract)
The second verse is sometimes sung as follows:-
The first he comes on like a ranting young lad
He conquers wherever he goes
He scorns by his enemies to be controlled
And his name it is William Roe.
The swords are 26 1/2 in. to hilt and 31 1/2in all. 3/4in. wide in blade which is roughly pointed. Wooden handle not hilt.
There are 7 figures in the dance:
1. Single under
2. Single over
3. Double under
4. Double over
5. Double sword
6. Own sword
I did not see double sword. The head man was William Harrison, traction engineer. The blacksmiths name was George Whitehill.
The account given in the log book describes the preliminaries rather differently from the way I saw them.
Tom Wood stood between line of dancers and crowd add recited verses to tune (No. 2496) very dramatically, now pointing to one or other of the dancers and now sweeping round to address lookers-on. When he came to first verse, 1st dancer left his place at end of rank and walked in an oval track in front of the rest of the swordsmen, timing his walk, which was very slow and dignified, so that at the beginning of the second verse he was close to the second dancer. The latter then left his place and walked behind first dancer. This method repeated verse by verse till all dancers were walking in ring.
The last two verses were sung very impressively by Wood turning to the crowd and addressing them, and at the words Music strike up the meledion player started almost drowning the singers voice.
The dancers then stand in a ring
facing centre without moving and solemnly clashed all their swords together at the 1st & middle beat of each bar, the swords being held with points upwards. Then they placed swords on their left shoulders, and took hold of the tips of the swords of their left-hand neighbours. At the end of the strain they passed arms over heads and stood still linked by swords. They then danced the figures as given above, concluding after your own sword with the Clash, then the shoulder swords and interlocking. Except during the clash and shoulder swords dancers were always joined together by their swords.
[f159 - 169]
[Paraphrase of Chambers, E.K., The Mediaeval Stage, Oxford: OUP, 1903. Vol 1, Chapter 9 The Sword Dance, p182- 204. Not transcribed.]
[Paraphrase of Chambers, E.K., The Mediaeval Stage, Oxford: OUP, 1903. Vol 1, Chapter 6 Village Festivals, p116-145. Not transcribed.]
[Paraphrase of Chambers, E.K., The Mediaeval Stage, Oxford: OUP, 1903. Vol 1, Chapter 7 Festival Play, p146-159. Not transcribed.]
[Paraphrase of Chambers, E.K., The Mediaeval Stage, Oxford: OUP, 1903. Vol 1, Chapter 8 The May-Game, p160-181. Not transcribed.]
[Paraphrase of Chambers, E.K., The Mediaeval Stage, Oxford: OUP, 1903. Vol 1, Chapter 10 The Mummers' Play, p205-227. Not transcribed.]
[Paraphrase of Chambers, E.K., The Mediaeval Stage, Oxford: OUP, 1903. Vol 1, Chapter 11 The Beginning of Winter, p228-248. Not transcribed.]
[Paraphrase of Chambers, E.K., The Mediaeval Stage, Oxford: OUP, 1903. Vol 1, Chapter 12 New Year Customs, p249-273. Not transcribed.]
[Paraphrase of Chambers, E.K., The Mediaeval Stage, Oxford: OUP, 1903. Vol 1, Chapters 13 & 14 The Feast of Fools, p274-335. Not transcribed.]
[Paraphrase of Chambers, E.K., The Mediaeval Stage, Oxford: OUP, 1903. Vol 1, Chapter 15 The Boy Bishop, p336-371. Not transcribed.]
[Paraphrase of Chambers, E.K., The Mediaeval Stage, Oxford: OUP, 1903. Vol 1, Chapters 16 Guild and Court Fools, & 17 Masks and Misrule, p372-419. Not transcribed.]
Old Mr Day of Armscote (87) showed me how to thrash with the flail and how to creep through the threshel. In the latter trick you stoop down, put end of flail on each toe and then creep through and bend hinge end down your back and under your feet like a skipping rope. He also showed me method of dancing flail dance. Hold handle perpendicularly, twist tail on ground in a circle (with hinge as centre) and step over it as it passed under the feet, step-dancing the while. He said they never danced when they threshed. When a shower had driven them into the barn for shelter when the threshels were hanging up some of em would dance to wile away the time while some one else whistled tune. He said it was a very difficult dance and required a lot of practice and only few and very good dancers could manage it.
He used to get 1/- a bag for threshing. Working 12 hours a day he could thresh 2 bags a day, i.e. 12/- a week which was good money in those days. I asked him about last sheaf at harvest time.
He said reaper would leave last sheaf standing and plait the ears together. Then three or four of them would stand round and throw their scythes at it and try to cut off the ears. This was called cutting off the Frogss head. Then the Frog was thrown on the top of the last waggon load, children would climb up ladders on to the top where a man would look after them and they would all holler the last waggon load to the farm. If they passed. any workers on the road the latter would leave their work and come out and hoot (his own word) as the waggon passed. The hinge of the frail, flail, or threshel should be made of eel skin not leather.
Mr. Watts of Tewkesbury remembers flailing in his young days. Never saw a flail dance or heard of it. Ofteh saw men running in and out of the flails as others threshed, like threading the needle, a very dangerous trick he called it, and one requiring great agility and practice.
Michael Johnson said that when he was a boy the Ilmington Morris had lapsed for a while but was revived chiefly by his uncle Joseph Johnson himself an old Ilmington Morris Dancer. It was Joseph Johnson who went to Bidford to teach the men there, so he thought that some of the Bidford dances were really old Ilmington ones. One of the dancers at Ilmington in the first revival was Bartlett was a poor dancer. They all condemned him because he had this crook (bending his leg). Some got Bartlett to teach some of his men and that was how they learned the bended leg. Ha said Sam got things where he could and perhaps created some. He didn't take much notice of them for their step was all wrong. He heard Sam playing the other day for the Morris men. Little bit like a Morris at firstbut then it went off to anything. He got "no time nor nothing about him". In the "Maid of the Mill" the middle figure when hobby horse and fool go under the arches Sam must have introduced as they never used to do it. What they did in place was the threading figure of the Ribbon Dance.
Cliffords Mesne Morris
George Baldwin, charcoal burner, 88, now living at Newent in the Alms Houses used to be fiddler of the Cliffords Mesnes Morris. Forty years ago since it lapsed. Tho. Philpotts was fool, Boddenham, John Aplin, etc dancers - all now dead.
As at Mayhill they processed from place to place in column formation, top left being flagman and top right swordman. The former had a large flag peculiar to village wh. he waved in time with the music, and the latter two swords which he whirled round his head with the lilt of the music. He also danced the sword dance (swords on the ground) to tune of Greensleeves.
Baldwin used to play at all the Wakes and gave me some interesting tunes (see tune book). He played me Pop goes the Weasel and described figures wh. were same as usual. He said he had known the tune ever since he was a boy and that it wasnt a new one then. He was quite positive on this point.
Thos. Phelps of Mayhill told me many things. They always danced in Whit week from Mon to Sat. One year they went to Gloucester then down other side of Severn to Newnham, came over it then where they spent a night and so back up to Nottswood where they held a wake.
A set of Morris men from Cheltenham used to come over to Huntley and he had seen them many times. They had a pipe and tabor but Mayhill always used a fiddle.
We didnt go for money, we went for sport. They had six dancers,a ragman, fool & fiddler. A large white flag, yard square, blue round edge, R.W. in red & something else which he couldnt remember.
[Extract from Scott, Walter, The Pirate, (1821). Note 21. The Sword-Dance. Not transcribed]
Grenoside Sword Dancers
Six dancers and captain - all miners. Dancers dressed in close fitting tunics of small pink patterned calico with curious devices - all different - made of puckered red and blue braid, covering back and front. Bows and rosettes of same material dotted about. A red or blue - usually the former - frill of braid for collar. Mrs. Wragge, wife of musician, makes these and is working a couple for me (as much as 58 yards of braid sometimes used in one tunic). The trousers are white overalls with red stripe. Caps of black velvet with peak, and yellow button on the top. All wear clogs. Captain similarly dressed except that he wears a rabbit skin hat, with head and ears of rabbit over forehead and 5 rosettes round it. The hat is really a policeman's helmet with skin tightly stretched over it. Music an accordion or melodion. Tunes in book, Nos. 2514- 6.
Dancers in two rows of three front formation. Captain walks up and down between files and sings song 2513.
Dancers then form ring and Captain stands still
at centre. Dancers walk round clock-wise to Jig tune, each man having his sword over his right shoulder and the tip of his lefthand neighbours over his left shoulder. At the beginning of each bar the swords are reversed from one shoulder to the other. This for one strain. Then dancers assume normal position, facing centre of uircle, and step for one strain. Then they walk round again shouldering swords in reverse direction as before. Then face centre in normal position and step for one strain. During this latter captain kneels down and at conclusion of strain dancers lock their swords round his neck. This is done by each man crossing his right hand over his left (a good way over) then releasing his left hand and quickly locking his hilt under the tip of the sword nearest to it.
The Captain then rises and raising the locked swords over his head turns round sowly counter clockwise, while the dancers walk round slowly in reverse direction, i.e. with the clock. This repeated in reverse for one more strain. Then Captain kneels down with locked swords round his neck while dancers step facing centre. On last bar of B strain each dancer lays hold of the hilt of his own sword and rapidly draws it
out from the lock. The Captain slips out of the circle, the dancers form ring in usual way and the regular dance begins with
Dance over your own Sword
The leader No.1 steps over No.6s sword, first with right foot then with left. No.6 lowers his sword right on to the floor while this is being done. No.1 then turns quickly and lowers his sword for No.2 to step over This continues for 6 bars of music until No.6 has danced over his own sword, when all step for two bars.
This evolution is then repeated No.2 beginning. Again, with No.3 beginning, and so on until all have begun a round when figure reaches its conclusion. All of this to Broken-Time-Hornpipe (2514).
Single Sword Down
Nos.1 and 2 hold their sword down on to or nearly on to the ground. The rest of the dancers then step over it in following order 5, 4, 6, 5. Nos.5 and 6
turn to the right & pass round No.1, while Nos.4 & 3 turn to the left and pass round No.2. Nos.1 & 2 at conclusion rise up and the latter turns into position. This evolution is then repeated by Nos.2 & 3, then by 3 & 4, 4 - 5, and finally by Nos.6 & 1.
This also to Broken-Time Hornpipe.
Single Swords up.
Nos.1 & 2 hold up their sword under which the rest pass in same order and directions as in previous figure. Nos.1 & 2, however, instead of standing still face up and gradually move forwards and turn during evolution, [the following is written between the lines at this point - turn their backs on the audience, move forward a step or two, while each makes a complete turn on his own axis, No.1 clockwise, No.2 counter-clockwise,] so that they are in proper position by end of evolution.
This repeated as before 8 times, by successive leaders and danced to Broken-time Hornpipe.
Double Swords Down
Nos.1 & 2 hold sword down on ground. No.8 steps over sword turns to right stoops down by and outside No.2 lowering his sword to the ground parallel to the other sword. The rest of the dancers step over the sword in turn and in the following order, 3, 4, 5. All turn to left round No.2: No.6 rises directly after No.5 has passed and follows the rest; No.2 then steps over his own sword, while No.1 rises and twists into position. This evolution performed 6 times as before and to same tune.
Double Swords up
This is danced exactly as previous figure except that Nos.1 & 2 hold up their sword instead of down. No.6 passes under first, crosses and stands next to No.2 and rest pass under as in last figure.
This performed six times.
This ends this Act. After a short pause The Reel begins as follows.
Dancers stand in rows of three, front formation.
Leader walks up and down between the ranks saying (singing?)
Since that we have all come hither
And so sweetly I do sing
Now my lads you take to singing
When you hear these sword to ring.
Then all, standing in their positions, sing Tantiro, some adding a simple diatonic harmony (No. 2515.)
Then form ring, No.1 faces No.2, 3 faces 4, and 5 faces 6. Then they dance grand chain, Nos.1, 3 & 5 going to right, i.e. counter clockwise, Nos.2, 4 & 6 in reverse direction. Partners strike swords from right to left, high up, on 1st beat of 1st bar. On first beat of 3rd bar all strike again and so on alternate bars. This for two strains A1 & 2. Then dancers form lines and step during B music. Then do Grand Chain and Clash as before in reverse
direction for 18 bars A1 & 2. Then step as before for one strain B1
Standing in same position partners hold their two swords in parallel lines facing each other. Then Nos.1 & 2 raise the 6 & 3 who stoop down, then they themselves stoop down and pass under Nos.5 & 4. As they pass under Nos.6 & 3 who are now at the top do a double twist and then proceed down in the way that Nos.1 & 2 have already done. Each couple on reaching either end top or bottom, does the twist while the other two are passing through each other. This evolution continues until leader gets back to his place for the second time. When all form lines and step for 8 bars.
The roll is then repeated at a much quicker pace - as fast as possible, in fact - and then lines formed and stepping as before. At conclusion of stepping all heel with right feet in centre of circle throwing up their swords after
the manner of a Morris All-In.
Throughout the whole of the dance the performers are marking the rhythm of the music with their clogs. In the repetition at fast time of the Roll this is especially effective. They will never dance on turf, but always on a sanded parlour for choice but at all events on bricks or flags.
The dance is always performed at Xmas or New Year. Formerly a troupe would go round the country for a week or a fortnight after the fashion of the Morris men but this - indeed all the sword dancing - is rapidly being discontinued. There is the same ritual with regard to teaching probationers as is observed by Morris men, viz 6 weeks instruction at 3d a week with fines etc.
As to their origin they say that the word Morris really means Moorland and that they came from the Moors further north. The Grenoside men have given up regular Xmas dancing for 4 or 5 years, partly because it is difficult to get money nowadays especially
out of the general public. The gentry support the dancers to a certain extent, but the villagers and townspeople are very apathetic. Drink as usual has also played a part in the work of disintegration.
Swords were made in the same way as those at Kirkby, but rather smaller, i.e. about 30-31 inches over all.
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