Morris Clubs; Morris and Molly Teams in East Anglia

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 CLUBS IN SUFFOLK, NORFOLK, ESSEX and CAMBRIDGESHIRE

Now including news items and appeals for dancers and musicians

 

Just received this appeal by Anniemation (17/1/2020)

Musicians wanted by Anniemation
Any or all of: Melodeon player, accordion player, violinist wanted by AnnieMation - a North West Morris side based in Colchester, Essex.  We practise on a Sunday - 11-00am until 1-00pm and have regular dance outs and dance weekends away.  Anyone interested please contact Ian on 07719846968  or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Read more: Morris Clubs; Morris and Molly Teams in East Anglia

Not Morris but ...

John Clare's Scraping

You know how it is, you're doing the ironing or cooking and you have the radio on in the background and suddenly your ears prick-up as you become aware of something familiar or interesting.  Well, there I was preparing an early supper when I heard Jon Boden's voice talking to me from the radio.  He'd put together a great little programme about the poet John Clare, the "Northamptonshire peasant poet".  He's one of my favourite poets and I even have an 1820 copy of his first book "Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery" which I inherited from my Mum.  So, Jon Boden immediately got my full attention, especially as the programme was celebrating the 200th anniversary of the publication of that book.

John Clare poet

John Clare, the Northamptonshire Peasant Poet

The programme was on Radio 4 on Sunday 12th January at 4.30pm and can still be found on BBC Sounds but only until 10th February 2020.  Sadly, it doesn't seem possible to download the programme.  Boden celebrates John Clare's tune and song collecting, some of which Clare learned from the gypsy, Wisdom Smith, who he met around the Cambridgeshire village of Helpston, near Peterborough.  Clare was described as a "decent scraper" and learned to play his fiddle tunes from visiting gypsy camps.  He was one of the earliest folk song collectors and amassed a collection of 263 tunes and songs, some from the gypsys and others from his father's collection of over 100 ballads which he sang at local pubs. 

The reason for including all this in a piece in Mardles Morris On! is that Morris does get a mention.  One of the contributors to the programme says that Helpston had its own "Morris dance, as Clare calls it", but then says "which we would now call a Mummer's Play".  Disappointingly, from my perspective, no more detail is provided in the programme after this tempting mention but it's further evidence of an East Anglian Morris tradition of some kind and an interesting glimpse into England at the time of the enclosures.

Have a listen to the programme yourself if you get the chance, and you'll also hear Jon Boden singing the John Clare version of Bushes and Briars.

Dave Evans

20th January 2020

 

 

 

Old Glory Molly trip to Kent on video

Old Glory's recent trip to Kent was captured on film by a Brighton based young film maker, Conan Roberts of Unfolding Films.   Filmed on a very cold day at the end of November in the harbour and on the beach at Whitstable, Kent.  The film conveys, in a few quick frames, some of the essential magic, mystery, energy and power of the Molly and is enhanced with a voice-over by one of the dancers.

If you like this one another film by the company with a flavour of the Morris called "Modern Nature - Nature" may also interest you.  If you can identify any of the sides involved please let me know so that I can give them a credit.  I suspect that some of the sides may be from the Brighton area where Unfolding Films are based. 

The film maker, Conan Roberts, has expressed an interest in filming a wide variety of Morris traditions, events and performances, so it may be worth contacting him through their website (see above) if you have something which may be of interest.  I've already suggested that he might like to visit Thaxted in June.

Dave Evans, Mardles Morris Correspondent

8th January 2020

 

Hopping Down in Kent - Old Glory visit the Kent Treacle Mines

Perhaps not as much “hopping” as a Cotswold Morris side might have done but there was certainly plenty of stamping and on this occasion, it was “Stamping the Old Ground”, "Nelson’s Revenge" and "The Buck" which Old Glory Molly Dancers and Musicians had brought down to Kent.  They were the guests of Seven Champions Molly Dancers, famous inhabitants of the Kent Treacle Mines.  A strong side of dancers and musicians made the journey although some felt it was a bit too radical to stray outside the natural territories of East Anglia.

Old Glory Seven Champs

Old Glory and their hosts Seven Champions by the sea in Whitstable

Seven Champions had been to Suffolk in December 2018 and a return trip had been eagerly awaited.  It turned out that the Treacle Mines are located in the Whitstable – Faversham area and the first dancing spots were around the harbour in Whitstable.  The day was dry and sunny but a cold wind whistled through the docks.  A good crowd gathered for the first spot at the so-called Dead Man’s Stage and came with us to the Lifeboat Station but later thinned out as dusk approached.

Seven Champs led the way with their strange tales and precise dancing, weaving complex and precise patterns in twos and fours, sixes and eights and sometimes more. 

Read more: Hopping Down in Kent - Old Glory visit the Kent Treacle Mines

New Old Glory event at the Locks

Old Glory Solstice Dec 2018

Having previously reported that the traditional Old Glory Winter Solstice event at the Locks, Geldeston scheduled for 22nd December had been cancelled due to local flooding, I am now pleased to let you all know that a replacement event will take place at the Locks on Saturday 11th January at 8pm.  So this Winter you will still be able to witness the eerie sight of Old Glory emerging with flaming torches from the marshes into the pub yard. 

Other opportunities to see the Molly dancers and musicians will be tonight 4th January at the Oddfellows, Nightingale Road, Pakefield, Lowestoft NR33 7AU, 18th January at Whittlesea Straw Bear festival and finally for this season on 25th January at the Mark Jones Day of Dance starting at 10.30am at the Cutter, Ely.

Dave Evans

Mardles Morris (and Molly) correspondent

 

Golden Star seek wanderin' Starlets

In the Golden Star Public House in Norwich about 40 years ago it was thought to be a good idea to form a Cotswold Morris side, and so Golden Star Morris was born.  The precise date (and possibly year) are lost in the mists of time/alcohol (delete as appropriate).  To celebrate this and to cover most of the possible dates, Golden Star are having a number of events spread over about a year.  In June 2020 there will be a weekend at the Tibbenham Greyhound which will include a tour of South Norfolk on the Saturday.

Golden Star Hundon 2018

Golden Star (and shadow side), April 2018; St Georges Day celebrations, Hundon

If you have danced, played or offered counselling to the side please join us for as much or as little of the weekend as you wish.  The dates are 12 - 14th June.  If you would like details of the event please email; gsm40ish.gmail.com

Should you be in contact with other Golden Starlets please let them know about the fun filled future we are planning.

David Crease

Bagman, Golden Star Morris

Normal for Norfolk –The Kitwitches at the Globe

Review by Jonathan Hooton

In Christmas time, and especially on plough Monday, several Men dresse themselves in Womens Close and goes from House to House a Dancing along with fiddles” so the entry in the Arderon papers at the Norfolk Record Office reads.  It dates from the mid 18th century.

This was the inspiration behind the formation of the Norwich Kitwitches Molly side.  Like many of the traditional sides we do not start practising until November and only dance out in December and January.  Being a 21st century Molly side, we are mixed and therefore the women have to dress as men, dressed as women.  Perhaps it was this fact that led Andrew Logan to ask us to dance in the 2018 Alternative Miss World, whilst the judges were making up their mind as to which of the contestants had won the coveted crown.  This was the reason why we broke with tradition to dance in October on stage at the Globe.  It was combined with dancing on the South Bank and outside the Globe as the audience was entering.  Luckily it was fine weather.  We stood at the side of the stage for most of the show and our pantomime dame outfits, wigs and make-up did not look out of place amongst an audience of alternative Londoners.  We had been asked to provide ten minutes entertainment at the final interval before the winner was to be crowned Alternative Miss World 2018.  There was time for two dances and the stage at the Globe was large enough for two sets as well as the musicians.   We started with the traditional Comberton Molly dance ‘The Special’ published by Cyril Papworth.  It is a linked handkerchief dance but instead of handerchiefs the Kitwitches have always used bras which seemed very appropriate for that evening.  We have also added a final figure – the lock – similar to Rapper sides, but with underwear instead of swords and inspired by the Illmington Maid of the Mill dance.  It was well received and we finished off with one of our own Norwich dances, ‘The Witch’ with its now, fairly traditional zombie ending.  It was a rare but thoroughly enjoyable outing to the capital, but now we need to prepare ourselves for Plough Monday and the winter weather in Norfolk.

 

 

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