Category Archives: Frontboxes

Practice season 2021 – new venue

September 22nd 2021 will see Wesminster Morris commence practices in our new venue. It’s a short stagger from a nice Fullers pub and from Paddington station.

Here’s what Richard (our baggy bagman) has to say about it…

Our new practice venue will be in the church hall at St Johns Church, 18 Hyde Park Crescent, Tyburnia, London W2 2QD, starting on September 22nd, 8.00pm to 10.00pm.  The hall is on the left-hand side of the church, at the back.

A Fuller’s pub is nearby, the Victoria on the corner of Sussex Place and Strathearn Place, I suggest that early arrivals could meet there.

There are several options for getting there:

Central line: Lancaster Gate and Marble Arch are the same distance from the church, but Lancaster Gate is closer to the Victoria, about 300m along Stanhope Terrace.

From Victoria it’s probably quickest to get the Circle/District line to Paddington.  Take the exit signposted to Praed Street, turn right along Praed Street, and right along London Street.  Ignore the Sussex Arms, it doesn’t have any cask beer.  Continue along London Street/Sussex Place and see the Victoria straight ahead, or turn left along Gloucester Square to the church.  It’s about 400m from Paddington station to the Victoria, 300m from there to the church.

If you’re coming along the Circle/Hammersmith & City line from King’s Cross, either walk from Edgware Road station (700m to the church) or change to the Circle/District line to Paddington.  This is because the Hammersmith & City platform at Paddington is much further North and you have to walk miles around the building site to get to Praed Street (guess how I know that!).

From Victoria station to Napier Hall was about 950m, so most of us have less far to walk

3rd November. Stop thinking about it and DO IT.

WESTMINSTER MORRIS – NEW DANCERS WELCOME

If you are interested in learning to dance Cotswold Morris in the distinctive Westminster style, taking exercise, having fun and a drink or two afterwards, come along to the Taster Session on 3rd November and give it a try, or any Wednesday evening this Autumn.

We are a friendly, all-inclusive, mixed team with a passion for keeping a great English tradition alive and everyone is welcome. No previous experience is required.

When and where:-
St. John’s Church Hall, 18 Hyde Park Crescent W2 2QD
8:00 to 10:00 pm each Wednesday.
Nearest stations Paddington, Edgware Road and Lancaster Gate.

Questions?
email our Bagman, Richard on newbagman@westminstermorris.org
Call our Squire, Roger on 07312111850
See our website westminstermorris.org or
https://www.facebook.com/morrisdancers/

June 26th 2021 – Not a day of dance but it’ll do

Westminster Morris have been holding our Day of Dance celebration in May for over 60 years now, and then bloody Covid came along and buggered it all up. We spent 2020 and a good part of 2021 on zoom meetings, trying to dance to music which was even more behind the beat than usual. It was not fun. Finally, we’re allowed to venture out and this is what we’ll be up to.

All times quoted are BMT (British Morris Time = BST plus or minus an unspecified amount of time depending on unspecified things such as, pubs)

Here’s the list of where we’ll be from our lovely Squire, who is being even more vague than usual.

  • 11:00 The Red Lion Crown Passage, SW1Y 6PP
    • Crown Passage is a narrow alley off Pall Mall at the Western end, opposite Marlborough Road. The nearest tube is Green Park.
  • 12:00 Waterloo Place – the top of the steps from the Duke of York Column overlooking St. James Park
    • SW1Y 5AG might help you
  • 12:45 A pub, whose name or street Roger can’t remember – either that or somewhere else for lunch.
    • So, if you don’t see us in that pub, look somewhere else
  • 13:45 St Martin’s in the field.
    • There’s a  nice terrace near to the posh entrance.
  • 14:30 The Ship and Shovell
    • 1-3 Craven passage Wc2N 5PH
  • 15:30 Adelaide Street
    • WC2N 4HZ – on the pedestrianised bit, near the Subway food substitute place.
  • 16:00 Finishing at The Harp
    • Anyone still able to stand will be here
    • WC2N 4HS
    • Either that or The Wellington (Next to the Lyceum)
      • WC2R 0HS

Come on down – we’d love to see you…. if you can find us!

In memoriam: Dr Denis Smith

Long time musician to Westminster Morris, Dr Denis Smith died in November 2017. His funeral in December was well attended but, being in Scotland, there were many more who were unable to make the trip.

Lynda has arranged a memorial service to be held in the church at Thaxted on 9th June 2018 at 2:30 and all are welcome. Please see the notice attached here and let Lynda know if you are going to attend. It will help with the catering arrangements.

What’s Morris Dancing?

cotswoldsMorris Dancing is a traditional English dance, with different varieties across the country.  Westminster Morris perform dances from the Cotswolds region, which crosses Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, and a few other areas.  Once performed by the men in the villages, the dances were specific to a particular town.  As such, the dance traditions are named for the village they come from, for example Longborough, Adderbury, Brackley, Bampton, Headington Quarry, Sherborne, and soforth.  Each tradition has distinctive movements and figures, although the overall structure and shape of dances are very similar.

Cotswold morris is not the only style of dancing referred to as morris dancing – the term is broadly applied also to the North West Clog style dances, the longsword and “rapper” sword dances from the North East, and the rambunctious dances from the Welsh Borders.

Origin

The exact origin of morris dancing remains shrouded in mystery – the earliest records found date from the rule of Henry VI in the 15th century, however it is believed that the dance predates these written accounts.  Some believe it to be a harvest dance, others claim it is a fertility rite.  Some say morris dancing is simply a custom or folk dance.

Revival & popularisation

Very much a localised tradition, morris dancing was seldom heard of or seen outside of the village where it was performed.  During the late 1800s with the coming of industrialisation the dances were thought to be disappearing, so in keeping with the mood of cultural preservation at the time, “collectors” went out into the villages to note down the dances and songs so that they might endure.  Most enthusiastic of these was Cecil Sharp, who had his first encounter with morris dancing during the Christmas of 1899 in the village of Headington Quarry, near Oxford.

In 1907 Sharp published a book of the dances he had collected, and in 1911 a society was formed to celebrate and protect this part of cultural heritage – in present day this is known as the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

Some morris dancing sides that exist today have traceable lineage back to the Traditional village teams of the 1800s.

Folk revival

In the 1950s and 1960s the UK saw a great takeoff of interest in its folk customs, and many new teams were formed – bolstering the numbers after the loss of many dancers during the two wars.

Present day

At the turn of the millenium there were over 800 morris dancing clubs in the UK, and as people travel so too does the custom: there are also sides in Europe, Australia, the USA, New Zealand, and more besides.

In the UK there are 3 supervising bodies representing morris dancing – Westminster Morris are members of The Morris Ring, which is the federation of mens’ morris dancing clubs (no longer exclusively male!).  The Morris Federation and the Open Morris represent womens’ teams and mixed teams, and the three organisations work together to promote and preserve the dance form.

Further information

This page is by no means exhaustive: there are many more in-depth resources on the web.  Some useful starting points are:

Join in – “just the right amount of daft”

wmm_groupMorris dancing is a great way to learn a new skill, get a bit of exercise, meet some interesting people, as well as learning about England’s culture and history.  It also gets you out & about around London, and to far-flung villages & towns across the country that you wouldn’t normally think of visiting.

Women are welcome. We’ve had female dancers in the team for a good while now. They have danced out with us and nothing bad happened!

Westminster Morris are always looking for new dancers (and musicians!) to join the team – if you’ve danced in the past and fancy getting back into it, or have just seen dancing somewhere and would like to give it a try (it’s not necessarily as difficult as it looks) then why not use the form below to get in touch with us, and we can get you along to practice to get started!

We practice at our hall (in Westminster) from September through to May, on Wednesday nights (except for over Christmas/New Year).  No dancing experience required.