Review of the online talk given by Adderbury Morris Men in Oxfordshire, on 25th April 2021.
Review by Mike Heaney
“Over eighty participants joined this talk on 25th April, including from as far afield as the Netherlands, Estonia, the USA, and Canada. No fewer than seven members of the team contributed to different parts of the presentation, ranging from history to musical and dancing style, interspersed with entertaining videos from across the years, all brought together by current bagman Keith Norton.
“We started with a recently rediscovered video from the team’s first day of dance 46 years ago, followed by an introduction to the history of morris dancing in Adderbury from Stephen Wass. There was dancing there from at least the late 18th century, and records from nearby places suggest a strong local morris dancing culture from at least the beginning of the century. A good part of the early history concentrated on Adderbury’s famous fool from the early 19th century, Old Mettle.
“Tim Radford took over with an account of the earlier revivals – possibly dancing Headington from Cecil Sharp’s books – in 1908 and 1913. Local resident Janet Blunt met an old Adderbury dancer, William Walton, and collected dances from him. Later on Sharp also met William Walton – in some cases the descriptions by Blunt and Sharp differ.
“Moving on to the 1975 revival, Tim revealed that it began when he got tired of travelling from Banbury to Oxford to dance with Oxford City Morris Men and in 1974 he decided to form a side in Banbury. After a few weeks of a team practising in Banbury, an Adderbury native, Bryan Sheppard, joined and Tim needed no persuasion to move practices to Adderbury and to dance solely the Adderbury dances. Enthusiasm and practices were intense – two practices a week from November through to the first dance out on 26 April 1975 and a successful season.
“At the AGM at the end of 1975 Bryan Sheppard proposed some changes and when the proposals were voted down, he and some other members left to form their own side, Adderbury Village Morris Men. In 2010 a women’s side, wittily named Sharp and Blunt, also came together to dance the village dances. All three teams now co-exist amicably.
“Fiddler Chris Leslie, taborer Dave Moore, and Stephen and Verna Wass on melodeon and fiddle, all provided their insights into playing for the Adderbury dancers, complete with demonstrations, including Chris dancing to his own fiddling (inspired by Bampton’s Matt Green)
“Current squire David Gunby rounded off with an account of some of the team’s more memorable foreign excursions, including Estonia, the USA, Germany and India (where they were escorted by an armed motorcade!).
“In the questions that followed the team were asked what they thought about other teams dancing and adapting the Adderbury dances. Tim Radford said he wanted everybody to dance it; David Gunby put a final gloss on it in saying that the morris dances are “Adderbury’s gift to the world”.
“Thanks to all the members of the team who contributed to an enjoyable and informative presentation.
Review by Mike Heaney of Eynsham Morris, Oxfordshire