Virtual May Morning 2020

Due to the Covid-19 crisis and ongoing lockdown, Oxford’s May Morning celebrations were cancelled this year, with our dancers all safely isolated at home.

However, tradition finds a way! And so, plans for a virtual May Morning were hastily made…

Our marking of the occasion began, as it does every year, with dressing Jack-in-the-Green – this time in virtual form.

A virtual Jack in the Green, made froma photo collage of green foliage, on a conical frame, with legs poking out of the bottom.
Our virtual Jack accompanied by Lobby, the mascot of the Ancient Men

Then came the day itself.

Many of us began by rising before 6am to listen to Daily Info’s broadcast of the socially-distanced Magdalen College Choir singing ‘Hymnus Eucharistus’ from their homes, imagining ourselves standing below the tower bleary-eyed, shivering in the early-morning mist or warming ourselves with the contents of assorted hip flasks and thermos flasks. From there, rather than to Radcliffe Square, we proceeded forth in a disorderly manner to dance a symbolic dance by ourselves in gardens, quiet corners of parks, and deserted meadows.

Most importantly, Mac danced a solo version of “Bonny Green” from Bucknell, which is normally performed around Jack-in-the-Green in Radcliffe square as our first dance on May Morning – in this case, an unsuspecting front-garden shrubbery made a handy stand-in for the spirit of Summer:

Those still following Daily Info’s livestream were treated to a spoons-playing tutorial from one of our dancers, Rachael, and a dance from the squire of the Oxford City Morris Men, amongst many other delights…

A teddy bear in morris dancing kit, holding a tankard of ale
Our part-time mascot Horace sent his best wishes from Bristol

By 9am, it was time for the traditional Morris Dancers’ Breakfast – typically served at Teddy Hall, but moved on this occasion to Zoom, with a little more variety in menu options than usual, and BYO beer.

Whilst our private festivities continued online, the morris-loving public(!) had the chance to watch a series of socially-distanced jigs, which our dancers and musicians had worked hard to compile over the preceding weeks:

Graham, Squire of the Oxford City Morris Men, dances Lumps of Plum Pudding (Fieldtown)

Rachael and Greg, accompanied by Stan, attempt a socially-distanced double jig! I’ll Go and Enlist for a Sailor (Sherborne), with at least 150 miles between each of the people involved.

Nerys dances the Princess Royal, accompanied by her own playing!

Our own Squire, Gerard, dances Ladies of Pleasure (Bledington)

Alex danced his own interpretation of None so Pretty (Fieldtown)

Our former Squire Jennifer dances the Nutting Girl (Fieldtown) in Dundee

Another dance from Graham – this time Ladies Pleasure (Fieldtown)

Rosemary danced a solo version of I’ll Go and Enlist for a Sailor (Sherborne), sent to us all the way from Berlin!

Gerard devised his very own new jig specially for the occasion, “the Lockdown”, in the style of Bledington, accompanied by his own drumming…

Meanwhile in Canada, Bob danced the Nutting Girl (Bampton)

Rachael dances the Nutting Girl (Fieldtown)

And last but not least, Gerard also contributed his rendition of the Nutting Girl (Fieldtown)

Normally, May Morning would end for morris dancers at the Rose and Crown on North Parade, where we’d dance until we could dance no more, drink beer, eat sausages, and eventually settle in to play music and sing songs… Unfortunately that experience could not be replicated by electronic means, but we did send our collective greetings to Andrew at the Rose and Crown, and in the general spirit, we have this musical offering from Nick & Jacqui McGuinn to finish off the day:

Until next year: Wassail!

‘Ancient Men’ Morris Dancers tour Cornwall, 25th – 27th July 2019

AM Cornwall banner 1The Ancient Men (“Not all Ancient, and not all Men”) are a group of travelling Morris dancers who gather together each summer to tour towns and villages in a chosen area.

This Summer, we will be touring Cornwall to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the first tour made by Oxford University Men’s Morris in 1929.

Ancient Men in Cornwall

AM trefusis
Oxford Morris at Trefusis, July 1929. Back row ( L to R) – Bill Picton, Herbert Thomas, Gordon Etherington. Front row (L to R) – Francis Tabor, Charles Bardswell, Colonel Trefusis, Henry Trefusis, Reggie Batchelor

In 1929 a small group of Cotswold Morris dancers from Oxford University, including Henry Trefusis of Trefusis, Flushing, made Cornwall the scene of their first ever dance tour outside Oxfordshire.

This group eventually became the Oxford University Morris Men, who on tour are known as The Ancient Men.

The Ancient Men have been touring every summer since 1952, and we returned to Cornwall in 1970 and 1979.

This year to mark the 90th anniversary year of the original tour, The Ancient Men will be re-visiting Cornwall during the last week of July 2019, and returning to dance at some of the venues of 1929 and 1979.

Itinerary of Public Performances, 25th – 27th July 2019

Thursday 25th July
12:15   Marazion, The Station House
15:00   St Ives, The Island
15:45   St Ives, West Pier/RNLI
18:00   Scorrier (Redruth), The Fox and Hounds
19:30   Devoran, The Old Quay Inn
Friday 26th July
11:00   Helford Passage, Ferry Boat Inn
12:30   Helford, The Shipwright’s Arms
15:00   Helford Passage, The Amphitheatre – Trebah Gardens
17:30   Mawnan Smith, The Red Lion
18:30   Penryn, The Famous Barrel
19:30   Restringuet Point, The Pandora Inn
Saturday 27th July
10:30      Flushing, The Seven Stars
12:15      St.Mawes, The Square
12:45      St.Mawes, The Quay
14:45      Trelissick, Trelissick Gardens (NT)
From 17:30 to 19:30  Flushing Carnival

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‘Ancient Men’ morris dancers tour West Cork and South Kerry, 9th – 14th July 2018

AM-fb-banner-cork-kerry

The Ancient Men are a group of travelling Morris dancers who gather together during the summer to tour towns and villages in a chosen area. Our traditional dances come from the villages of the Cotswold Hills in southern England, and have an antiquity stretching back hundreds of years.

Traditionally, we do a public performance in a town or village before moving on to the next location. Our performance is guaranteed to bring good luck, fine weather and fertility. Do come and see us if you can.

As Ancient upholders of the traditional dances of old England, we are delighted to be visiting West Cork and South Kerry. We have toured in Ireland previously – in Kilkenny and West Cork in 1990, in Bréifne (Sligo and Leitrim) in 2007, and in West Clare in 2015.

From our base near Bantry, our 2018 tour of West Cork and South Kerry takes us up to Kenmare, through the Beara and Sheep’s Head peninsulas, and then down to Baltimore and Sherkin Island, as well as to several inland locations.

And at the end of a busy and strenuous day, don’t be surprised to see us retiring to the nearest bar for a well-earned drink, along with some music and song. You are very welcome to join us!

Itinerary of public performances

Monday 9 July

1230 Kenmare, the Square
1800 Kilgarvan, Jackie Healy Rae Bar
1930 Top of Coom, Top of Coom Bar
2100 Inchigeelagh, Creedon’s Hotel

Tuesday 10 July

1200 Ballylickey, Ouvane Falls Inn
1300 Bantry, Wolfe Tone Square
1800 Kilcrohane, Eileen’s Bar
1930 Ahakista, Tin Pub
2100 Bantry, Wolfe Tone Square

Wednesday 11 July

1230 Ballyvourney, Mills Inn
1830 Ballingeary, Shortens Bar
1930 Gougane Barra, Hotel
2100 Kealkill, Collins Bar

Thursday 12 July

1200 Ardgroom, Village Inn
1330 Kilmackillogue Harbour, Teddy O’Sullivan’s/Helen’s Bar
1800 Eyeries, Causkey’s Bar
1930 Castletownbere, O’Donoghue’s Bar
2100 Glengarriff, Blue Loo

Friday 13 July

1230 Durrus, Long Boat Bar
1330 Ballydehob, Levis Corner House
2000 Baltimore, Bushes Bar

Saturday 14 July

1200 Leap, Connolly’s of Leap
1300 Glandore Terrace, Hayes Bar & Kitchen
1600 Castletownshend, Lill McCarthy’s
1930 Sherkin Island, Jolly Roger

About Morris Dancing

Ancient Men dance on Symonds Yat rock on their 2016 Wye Valley Canoe tour. Photo by Chris Sheffield.

No one can be sure of how, when and where Morris dancing originated. It was known in England as far back as the 15th century and in those times would have been familiar in villages throughout the country, danced on special occasions by selected members of the community. Each village had its own dances and style of performing them.

By the 19th century Morris dancing had nearly died out, but in 1899 folklore collector Cecil Sharp, inspired by a chance meeting with a team of Morris dancers in the village of Headington in Oxfordshire, started to note down the dances and the tunes that accompany them. This formed the basis for a revival of interest in the tradition and probably saved Morris dancing from extinction. There are now many teams in England and other parts of the world who regularly perform these dances.

More about the Ancient Men

The Ancient Men can trace their history back to the early years of the 20th century, making them one of the oldest revival teams in England. Since their first tour, in Fairford, Gloucestershire, in 1952, the Ancient Men have made over 100 tours, not just in England but in many other parts of the world, including the United States, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Japan, Italy and Russia. Although the members of our group have become globally scattered over the years – some of the dancers you see have flown in from Kenya, the United States and New Zealand – we still enjoy getting together each year and renewing old friendships.

OUMM Summer Dancing 2018

OUMM bridge of sighs
OUMM and OCMM dancing in Oxford during Bonn week, Summer 2017

Oxford University Morris Men’s summer dance-out calendar for 2018, in combination with Oxford City Morris Men,  is (provisionally) as follows – although please check our Facebook page for confirmation on the day in case of last-minute changes if you are planning to come and see us!

Wednesday 9th of May – 7:30pm at the Royal Blenheim, 8:30pm at the Bear

Wednesday 23rd of May – 7:30pm at the Red Lion, Old Marston, 8:30pm at the Victoria Arms, Marston

Wednesday 30th of May – 7:30pm at the Old Bookbinders, Jericho, 8:30pm at the Harcourt Arms, Jericho

Thursday 7th June – The Tap Social Movement, North Hinksey Lane – with Old Speckled Hen

Wednesday 13th of June – 7:30pm at the White Horse, 8:30pm at the Kings Arms

Wednesday 20th of June – 7:30pm at the Eagle & Child, and 8:30pm at the Gardeners Arms on Plantation Road

Wednesday 27th of June – 7:30pm at the Gardeners Arms (North Parade), and 8:30pm at the Rose & Crown

Wednesday 4th of July – 7:30pm at the Head of the River, 8:30pm at the Crown on Cornmarket

8th – 15th of July – Ancient Men on tour in West Cork & Kerry

Wednesday 11th of July – 7:30pm at thePerch, Binsey

Wednesday 18th of July – 7:30pm at the Lamb & Flag, 8:30pm at the Royal Oak

Wednesday 25th of July – 7:30pm at the Isis, Iffley, 8:30pm at the Prince of Wales, Iffley