The O.U.M.M. and its Background.
This document was originally compiled by Roy Judge in the early 1970’s and was ‘digitally re-mastered’ in 1993 by Ian Hall and Gerard Robinson.
A brief summary
The first documented attempt to revive Morris & Folk dancing Oxford appears in a leaflet issued by the “Oxford Society for the Revival of Folk-Dance” announcing that an address on the subject and possible demonstration “will take place under the auspices of the Teachers’ Guild on Saturday, October 10, at 8.15p.m. Entrance free.”
This is reported in the Oxford Times (17 October 1908). The lecture was by Miss Mary Neal.
By the start of the First World War several members of the University had taken up Morris dancing, led & inspired by Reginald Tiddy, Fellow of Trinity. OUDS produced Dekker’s Shoemaker’s Holiday in 1913 during which Tiddy and other members of ‘Oxford University Folk Dance Society’ performed in ‘long golden boots…hats with black & white brims…little bells. ‘Oxford Journal, 5 February 1913. Tiddy fell on the Somme in 1916 having done much work with the Ascott-under-Wychwood and Bledington traditions.
The Oxford branch of the English Folk Dance Society had been instrumental in reviving traditional dances in Oxford and on 1 May that year they gave “as a free gift to the City, in gratitude for the long and lovely survival here of the May-Day celebrations”, the tradition of Morris on May Morning. Members of the University continue to uphold this tradition.
Oxford University Men’s Morris was inaugurated on 17 October, 1926 and continued to perform and hold tours for several years.
By this time the side only reconstituted itself for May Morning. In a letter to Joseph Needham, R.I. Davison (Balliol?) supported Needham’s proposal of the formation of the Ring. In a letter to Walter Abson dated 27 May 1934, Davison also wrote, “Unfortunately no one from Oxford will be at Thaxted on June 2nd, but all are agreed on the suggested constitution, so please count the Oxford vote in favour of it.”
The Oxford Morris Men were formed this year and accepted into the Ring the following year. It seems that members of the University were active in this side and by 1947 they numbered 7 of a membership of 17.
Oxford University Morris Men became a self governing club, separate from the Cecil Sharp Club during the year and discovered upon applying for membership of the Morris Ring that they were already founder members!
The first tour of OUMM was based in Fairford, Gloucestershire in conjuction with the Travelling Morrice. It was during this tour that the title “The Ancient Men” was adopted for the side when on tour.
OUMM becomes a student society & is officially recognised by the University of Oxford.