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Adderbury: story of a village revival

The morris dances of Adderbury have been among the most-widely performed around the world since the early days of the 20th century. But it wasn't until 1975 that the tradition was revived on its home territory, in the north of Oxfordshire. STEPHEN WASS, musician with Adderbury Morris Men, has been reviewing events over the past 25 years.

This year sees the 25th anniversary of the revival of morris dancing in Adderbury. During the nineteenth century the custom flourished under the influence of families such as the Waltons and the Wyatts, but by the 1880s, changes in village life had effectively brought an end to morris dancing in the village.

It was not until 1916, under the influence of the then current folk revival, that information about the dances was noted down by Janet Blunt, resident of Le Halle Place, and Cecil Sharp, a collector of folk songs and dances. Their informant, William Walton had been the leader of the team up until their disbandment and died shortly after meeting Sharp in London in 1918.

Following a meeting between Tim Radford and Bryan Shepherd in 1974 it was decided to attempt to revive the tradition. Practices in Adderbury began in June of that year and by the following April the team was ready to perform round the village on its first day of dancing, on Saturday 26 April, 1975.

At the first annual general meeting, disagreements arose over such issues as the appropriateness of dancing to female musicians and dancing by people from outside the village! The team split at this point into the Adderbury Morris Men and the Adderbury Village Morris.

Since then the teams have gone their separate ways in terms of style of dancing and costume. The former continue to dance in ribbons and baldricks of red, white and blue, while the latter sport green accessories and wear top hats.

Despite their differences the two teams continue to meet up at The Bell every Day of Dance to entertain the growing crowds who gather there.

The Adderbury Morris Men approach their quarter century in good heart and full of plans for the new millennium. Particularly pleasing are the many new faces and young people who have become part of the side. As well as having a number of sons following in their fathersı footsteps, we also have several boys from the village who have been working hard through the winter to join in with this yearıs special anniversary.

Saturday, 29 April is the big day and the team is preparing for an early start, 10.00am at The Old Wheatsheaf, in order to fit in one or two extra stops on the tour of the village during the day.

Early evening will find us still dancing, but this time accompanied by various guest teams who will be joining us for a celebratory party in the village Institute to round the day off.

(First published in the April issue of Contact, the Adderbury parish magazine)

LINKS: Old Mettle.

İ2000 Stephen Wass, Simon Pipe, Mark Rogers, The Outside Capering Crew

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