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Morris dances in Cumbria in the early twentieth century [Video]

About this page

This page contains brief details about the video recording; the video (embedded in the page); an abstract for the talk; links to additional resources; a speaker biography and a summary.

Video recording of talk

Recording of a Morris Federation talk on “Morris dances in Cumbria in the early twentieth century” by Sue Allan held on Zoom on 28 January 2023. The #MorrisFedvideo lasts for 1 hour 15 minutes.



Cumbria is rarely, if ever, considered as a place with a history of morris dancing. However the late Victorian/Edwardian passion for patriotic celebrations incorporating Romantic ideas of ‘Merrie England’, complete with maypoles and morris dancing, encouraged many Cumbrian towns and villages to develop their own May Day celebrations and carnivals. A number of these included morris dancing, usually performed by school children.

In this illustrated talk, Sue Allan considers the styles and sources of the dances performed at Keswick, Ulverston, Wigton, Blennerhasset, Cockermouth and Workington, which she has researched for over forty years. Newspaper reports, memoirs and even a novel reveal tantalising glimpses of the dancing, while photographs of dancers and interviews with former performers and teachers shed yet more light on performances. Sources for the dances include borrowings from Lancashire morris traditions, early twentieth-century books on Cotswold morris and the major influence of two individuals: Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, one of the founders of the National Trust, and west Cumbrian dancing master Oliver Cowper.

Additional resources

Links to related resources:

Speaker details

Born and bred in Cumbria, Sue Allan’s career has included work in local radio and TV, with Cumbrian arts organisations and writing for Cumbria Life magazine, for which she is still a regular contributor. Sue has been involved with folk music as a singer, musician, dancer and latterly as an academic since her school days, co-founding Carlisle Morris Men – for which she was musician – in 1974, and women’s team Throstle’s Nest Morris in 1977. She is the third generation of her family to perform Wigton’s morris dance.



  • Title: Morris dances in Cumbria in the early twentieth century
  • Speaker: Sue Allan
  • Facilitator: Pauline Woods-Wilson
  • Type: talk
  • Date of talk: 28 January 2023
  • Date page published: 19 April 2023
  • Video edited by: Brian Kelly

 #MFvideo  #MorrisFedvideo  #MorrisFedvideos

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