Sunday, 13 January 2013

Abingdon Morris

Thought I’d kick this off with Abingdon Morris, who I saw dancing out in Steventon on New Year’s day. The Vale is in the heart of traditional Morris country. Although the 20th century saw a massive revival (or even reinvention) of the Morris tradition, there are only four sides that have a more or less genuine claim to be inheritors of an unbroken local tradition, of which three (Abingdon; Bampton; Headington Quarry) are in the immediate vicinity of the Vale. In Abingdon’s case, the first records go back to at least the 18th century. They were recorded by Mary Neal, a key figure in the early Morris revival (and pleasingly for me, involved in the wonderfully odd Kibbo Kift Kindred). There is a letter recording her requesting some dancers from Abingdon to go to London to teach the dance to eager learners. The Abingdon Traditional Morris have some idiosyncracies- they don’t do stick dances unlike other sides in the Cotswold tradition. They are also always accompanied by a set of regalia- including the Horns, the Mayor’s sash and cup or chalice. These are mainly connected with the tradition of the election Mayor of Ock Street, which I’ll blog about at some point. The horns in the photos are the ones they dance out with- the originals are probably of 18th century date and have their origin in a town game (Seemingly akin to the surviving Haxey Hood) and part of a wider tradition of mock mayors. I’m getting increasingly interested in the survival of this kind of regalia in folk traditions- might be nice to pull together a project looking at it at some point in the future. I’ll blog more about the Mayor of Ock Street in the future as I’m hoping to get to this years ceremony. For about this have a look at the Roud, S. 2006. The English Year, Penguin (pp.215-17) and Chandler, K. 1993. ‘The Abingdon Morris and the Election of the Mayor of Ock Street’ in Buckland, T. and Wood, J. (eds) 1993, Aspects of British Calendar Customs Sheffield, pp. 119-36

No comments:

Post a Comment