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“Considering Morris Dance Costumes as English National Dress” – Talk by Chloe Middleton-Metcalfe

Review of the online talk given by Chloe Middleton-Metcalfe on Saturday 7th November 2021, to an audience of over 40 people on Zoom.  

Sarah Scarlet writes:

Chloe Middleton-Metcalfe“It’s a good question. Is Morris dancing costume a good, or possibly the best (I might be biased), candidate for a national costume of England? 

“Chloe is a very engaging speaker and is in the process of completing a Ph.D. in English folk dance. which makes her the perfect person to explore this topic.

“In opening up the larger picture of national dress, or rather why the lack of it, we discovered with examples, that national dress is often designed with a cultural, political, or financial motive – not, as one might imagine, an archaic survival.

“In focusing on morris dance costumes we heard descriptions of very early costumes and looked at the revival costumes of Cecil Sharp and Mary Neal.  A round up of present trends brought us to how images of the morris are already used to present images of England.

English Folk Costume Archive Priston Jubilee“I was left feeling that although not officially a national dress of England, the classic Cotswold style morris outfit is used to represent England and Englishness and therefore is a default national costume . 

“Thank you Chloe,  for a beautifully delivered and well-researched talk, peppered with fascinating archive images. 

“I am looking forward to reading your article on the development of Dark Border Morris that was mentioned in the Q&A.

Review by Sarah Scarlet of Loose Women Morris in Kent.

More resources from Chloe Middleton-Metcalfe

Chloe Middleton-Metcalfe is in the process of completing her PhD on the subject of English social folk dance at the University of Roehampton. She originally trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama in costume making, and runs the English Folk Costume Archive. She continues to have an active research interest in material culture and dress.

Useful Links:

– English Folk Costume Archive:

– Academic Profile:

– EFDSS guide to English folk costume (authored by Middleton-Metcalfe):

– VWML Social Folk Dance Bibliography (authored by Middleton-Metcalfe):

– The Grand Union Canal Entertainment Company (Middleton-Metcalfe’s performance act):

– The History and Development of Dark Border Morris (authored by Middleton-Metcalfe): A MF Digital Publication:

Morris costume


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