An English Summer Weekend

Almost perfect weather for cycling got me out into the English countryside of East Anglia where Classic Cars were on show

Biking through the English Summer
Biking through the English Summer

and the Thaxted Morris Men and other ‘Morris Ring‘ teams were performing.

Morris dance is a traditional  English folk dance form dated to at least 1448. The name ‘Morris’ may be from ‘Moorish’ and was part of a wider European interest in exotic dance for fashionable society.

Letchworth Morris Men
Letchworth Morris Men

Two hundred years after it was introduced in England Morris dancing had become part of the working people’s entertainment, especially around Whitsun the 7th Sunday after Easter. So it was a pleasant coincidence that the Thaxted event took place over Whit Sunday weekend.

Claro Sword & Morris
Claro Sword & Morris

The practice of Morris dancing was prohibited by the English Puritan government in the 17thc and the subsequent revival under King Charles II continued until the social changes in the mid 19thc.

Thaxted Morris founded in 1911 stakes its claim to be the first 20th c revivalist of Morris Dance; though in the rural west of England Abingdon and several other dance teams have a tradition dating to well before 1800 . Normally complemented with music, Morris Dance is based on rhythmic stepping and choreographed sequences by a group of dancers, usually wearing bells on their legs and brandishing sticks or swords or handkerchiefs.

MG Cars and Thaxted Morris Men
Classic MG Cars and Thaxted Morris Men

The Morris team from Cambridge, which dates in its current form from 1919, performed with the music supplied by a 3 hole wind Pipe and percussion Tabor. Letchworth Morris, founded in 1922, use an Accordion for Music with the rhythm from their own sticks, as do Thaxted. Making a quartet was the Claro Sword & Morris team from Pannal near Harrogate who have developed the Yorkshire Long Sword Dance.

Bridesmaid and Land Rover Defender
Bridesmaid and Land Rover Defender

Along my cycle route, I managed to catch a bride’s vehicle procession as the Bride & Groom had stopped for photos in a field of Barley.

Bride's Mother waits for the convoy
Bride’s Mother waits for the convoy

Its quite a common thing to have a vehicle procession or take photographs in a rural scene, but this was special for the open topped vehicles were not the normal limousine but Land Rover Defender’s which are as popular in East Anglia as they are in Eastern Oman (Al Sharqiyyah).

Author: Tony Walsh

Book author including the current Bradt guide to Oman – edition 4

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