Author Archives: jason

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.

Westminster Day of Dance 2014 Programme

(This article is also available in PDF form – click to download)

Here is the day’s dancing programme for this year’s Westminster Day of Dance – which takes place this year on Saturday May the 10th.  London will come alive with the traditional English dance: this year demonstrating the rhythmic clog dancing of the North West, the East Anglian form known as Molly Dancing, and of course the traditional Cotswold Morris.

We’ve got a couple of interesting new spots, as well as some of our old favourites.  And once again we’re delighted to be joined by some of our friends from around the UK, and this time even further afield!

Time Tour 1 Tour 2 Tour 3 Tour 4 Tour 5
10:15 – 10:40 Victoria Embankment Steps St Margaret’s, Westminster Westminster Cathedral Tate Britain Victoria Tower Gardens
11:00 – 11:30 Adelaide St / St Martin In The Field Church Path Victoria Embankment Steps St. Margaret’s, Westminster Abbey Lambeth Palace Forecourt Westminster Arms, Storey’s Gate
12:00 – 12:30 Leicester Square Westminster Arms, Storey’s Gate Admiralty Arch Victoria Embankment Steps St James’s Park Bandstand
 Sides Datchet
Icknield Way
Seven  Champions
Westminster 2
St Albans
Tour 6 Tour 7 Tour 8 Tour 9
14:00 – 14:30 Duke of York’s Steps Glasshouse Street St Martin’s Lane / St Mary’s Court Leicester Square
15:00 – 15:30 Glasshouse Street Gerrard St / Macclesfield St Chinatown Duke Of York Steps Adelaide St/ St Martin In The Field Church Path
 Sides Ravensbourne
Westminster 2
Ickneild Way
St Albans
Seven Champions
16:30 – 18:00 Massed Show – Victoria Embankment Gardens

Come on down – we’d love to see you!

9th October: Come & try Morris Dancing!

It’s an age-old story – you’re out at a pub one summer evening when your evening is unexpectedly enhanced by the appearance of a set of morris dancers, and you say to yourself, “I’d really like to give that a try – it looks like fun!”.  Well, the excellent news is that it is, and YOU CAN!

On Wednesday October 9th will be holding an open practice session, and anyone who wants to come along & learn a dance will be welcome.

wmm_practiceWe’ll be going through the basics of the structure & form, learning about key differences between different Cotswold village dance Traditions, some warming up techniques (note: the pictured method is not recommended) and then learning the “figure” and “chorus” moves of a couple of the dances – the end goal is that by the end of the evening you’ll have learned one or two (depending on time, progress, and how distracted we get talking nonsense) complete morris dances.

We’ll provide the hankies, sticks, and traditional music for the evening.  You don’t need to bring anything other than enthusiasm.  No experience necessary*.

Please send Lewis, our Bagman, an email on if you’d like to attend, or have any questions.

7:45pm until 10pm, Napier Hall, 1 Hide Place, Westminster, London, SW1P 4NJ.  Closest tube stations Pimlico (Victoria Line) & St James’s Park (District/Circle Line).

* that’s experience of morris dancing, not experience of being enthusiastic.

A Diamond of an evening!

We’re very proud to be celebrating the team’s 60th anniversary this year – it’s widely known that Westminster first danced out in public on the Queen’s Coronation Day (which also makes it a lot easier to remember significant milestones). One of the celebrations therefore was to hold a grand dinner of team members past and present, partners, and our dear friends from both within and without of the morris.

Saturday night saw a Who’s Who of Westminster descend on Brown’s Brasserie in Old Jewry – a building once housing the London branch of Australia’s Commonwealth Bank, itself well-known for its distinctive yellow and black livery.


People came from far afield to join the evening of conviviality and reminiscence – guests from all corners of England, plus a few who’d made the considerably longer hauls in from Guernsey and New Zealand! And of course the locals made an appearance (although the Westminster men are spread further afield than you might think – from Cambridgeshire to Wales, Petersfield, and The Cotswolds!). There was plenty of mingling over the champagne reception with people catching up with their comrades not seen in years, and also newer members being introduced to their terpsichorean forebears, and finally putting faces to names spoken of in team folklore.

IMG_20130921_214139As the dinner bell was rung, 60 years of morris history made its way (slowly) up the staircase to enjoy a delightful 3 course meal – accompanied by toasts and speeches as befits such a moment. Daniel Fox of the Thaxted Morris Men delivered a fine piece in tribute to theme of Westminster. A Westminster man of old, Angus Morris-Coole responded with quite an epic tribute to our friends and guests (we were delighted and honoured to be joined by representatives from Chester City, Monkseaton, Headington Quarry, Thaxted, Moulton, Martlets, Winchester, Greensleeves and Etcetera Morris Men), including those present and absent – notably the rural Dean of Hackney, Father Kenneth Loveless. Robin Ainley passed on a message in absentia from our immediate outgoing Squire, his son Rupert: recently relocated to Nanjing and unable to join us.

With the formalities concluded and every belly in the house satisfied, we repaired downstairs for further catching up and merriment as Mitch Hursey and Brian Jackson deftly wielded their accordion and fiddle.

And as the magic hour approached and people slowly bundled into taxis to return to the various corners from whence they came, a certain unicorn was seen reclining in a corner – with a little smile playing over its face.

A big thanks to all who attended, and also who helped organise this grand feast (and grand feat!) – especially to the evening’s chief architect, Mike WIlson-Jones.

Room 101: Julian Clary

Not strictly a Westminster press mention, but about 2 minutes into this clip from Room 101 Paul Merton is trying to convince Julian of reasons why he shouldn’t dismiss The Countryside, and a couple of chaps we know from Headington Quarry make an appearance…


Unicorns are a topic close to our hearts, and news this week surfaced of an exhibition in New York featuring 16th century tapestry, “The Hunt of the Unicorn”.  From the article in The Economist:

The most moving work on view is “The Unicorn in Captivity”, a tapestry from the Rockefeller series. A unicorn rests inside a wooden enclosure. Thousands of flowers cover the ground. A gold chain links his collar to the trunk of a pomegranate tree (a symbol of fertility). Red juice drips onto the unicorn’s pure white coat. The wild creature has surrendered himself to love. This is a sensual and tender image. The remaining tapestries, in a room nearby, tell a different story—about aggression, betrayal and death.

Though our Unicorn is the last left alive, people will recognise the ancestral behavioural themes: love, aggression, and resting.  Not so much on the pomegranates latterly, but a link’s a link.

Another article in The Times reminds us, for those who maybe can’t make it over to New York, that replica tapestries created by weavers for West Dean are to be found in Stirling Castle.

Further interesting Unicorn information can be found on the BBC’s Listen Again website from the “In Our Time” programme with Melvyn Bragg.