I love calendars, picture calendars, and my husband very kindly gives me two each year; one is of scenes from Northern Ireland, and the other is his own pictures – matching the subject with the month. As it’s June and now summer, on this month’s page is a picture of some jolly Morris men.
Here is what I wrote about Morris men last year, when we saw some at Nunney Fair:
No-one really knows when, where or how Morris dancing started, or really what its name means. Some people think it comes from Moorish, or Moreys, or Moresco, but wherever the term originated, the first actual record is from the 1400’s, which doesn’t mean there weren’t dancers dancing with bells and ribbons and sticks and kerchiefs before then. Lots of stories have been written about the history, some saying it goes back to prehistoric times; well, really there is no evidence at all for that!
Every Morris troupe or group has its own musicians, and traditionally the instruments were the pipe and tabor (a small portable drum); these days you often find a whole array of musicians gleefully playing for the dancers; fiddles and concertinas and even accordions accompany the dancers and keep them in step. Sometimes a whole band of musicians will support the dancers. Just as many of the dances are old, so are the tunes which accompany them; some are traditional songs or popular songs from the past, some are even march tunes.
This entertainment was very popular in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, but it began to decline, as industry took over from agriculture as the mass employer and country traditions began to die out.However, in the 1930’s there was a new interest, and gradually the number of people taking part has increased, and now there are over 800 clubs and groups!
My featured image is not of Nunney Fair, but of the Dolphin where a troop came to entertain us a couple of years ago.