Assorted musicians with thanks to Etty Martin
Not one of the classic years perhaps but still a very good day during the course of which we were really very lucky with the weather. Our usual 10 .30 start saw what was I believe an unprecedented number of dancers, twenty counted in the Shepherds Hay outside the Old Wheatsheaf plus half a dozen musicians and other supporters. By the time we had moved on to the Red Lion we had enough for four sets for Constsant Billy!
A brief stop over on the village green took us across to the Coach and Horses where the tradition of dancing Princess Royal to Chris Leslie's haunting minor version of the tune was observed. By this time the Banbury Guardian photographer and cub reporter were on our case and followed us down to the Bell for the team photo. Here we were joined by more media types, most notably a solitary camerawoman/reporter from BBC South who took a lot of footage and interviewed members of the team. Did anyone ever see the coverage? The village team fetched up outside the Bell shortly afterwards and were kind enough to offer a place in their ranks for one of our senior members, Mr. Tim Radford who sped through Brighton camp like a young 'un'. This year we were assisted by two members of the police force who helped directing traffic, which seemed a little less intrusive than usual, perhaps they all got sent round the other way!
After Tim Turner's usual excellent lunch we made our way to the churchyard where we were joined by Adderbury's new vicar who lead us in a short ceremony to remember Janet Blunt and Winnie Wyatt by laying flowers and saying a few prayers. It was very well done and the final blessing meant that with God behind us the capers ought to be higher than ever.
So it was in thoughtful mood that we walked across the sports field to the mournful sight of the former White Hart, closed and stripped for development. Tim Laughton lead us in a minutes silence for the demise of this fine pub and then we turned our attention to the barrel of beer set up on a nearby front lawn, it was not an entirely dry spot. the pace was beginning to tell but people perked up a little when they got onto the lawn at Le Halle Place, perhaps it was the thought of tea and cakes back at the Bell. The weather up to this point had been really quite pleasant, certainly not the heavy showers we had been expecting.
By 5.30 our guests were starting to arrive. We were delighted to welcome Windsor who had made the long journey up the M40 and it was great to see old friends from Brackley on tour with us again. Bloxham were also there having mad ethe long journey from, well Bloxham I suppose but best of all was to see the arrival of children from Christopher Rawlins School in the village who had been working with Verna and other members of the team on some basic dances. They had all made the effert to find white shirts and troiusers and in addition to bells on their ankles wore favours of red and blue ribbons pinned to their chests.
Dancing recommenced at 6.00 outside the Bell with each team doing a couple of dances. the children performed versions of Lads a Bunchem and Constant Billy from Adderbury and a variant of Bloxham's Blue Eyed Stranger. By the time we were ready to move on to the Coach and Horses the sky which had been threatening for some time suddenly opened and deluged us forcing an early retreat to the Village Institute where we kept the dancing going for another couple of hours, including an ad hoc performance by Mr. Leslie's sword dancers, until supper at around 9.00. Things broke up pretty quickly after the food as the children had to be in bed and some of our guests had long journeys home. It did mean that we were able to clear the hall and be away ourselves before midnight, always a bonus when we had been on the go for nearly 14 hours!
PRESS RELEASE... the week before
Saturday, April 26th., sees the Adderbury Morris Men taking to the streets of the village once again for a day long celebration of Oxfordshire’s very own traditional dance style. The group of over thirty dancers and musicians was joined by members flying in from America to the west and Latvia to the east. The festivities start at 10.30 a.m. outside the Old Wheatsheaf, now a private house but once a pub kept by William Walton. Walton was the last surviving member of the nineteenth century team who was able to pass on details of the tradition to Janet Blunt a village worthy who wrote down everything she learned about the old dancers enabling the revival to take place in 1975. the current team have been dancing ever since.
The opening spot is followed by a swift move down the road to the Red Lion where many of the performers will all enjoy their first drink of the day, even if it is only a hot coffee. A foray into the car boot sale held on the village green leads on to the second pub, the Coach and Horses where spectators may be lucky enough to see the extraordinary sight of one of the team dancing and accompanying himself on the fiddle at the same time to the cries of, “It can’t be done!”
Lunch is taken at the Bell, the team’s physical and spiritual home, at least after practice on Wednesdays. Here they are joined by Adderbury’s other team, the Adderbury Village Morris men for a couple of lengthy stands from 12.00 onwards. Before dancing resumes in the afternoon a short detour is made to the churchyard of St. Marys where flowers are laid on the grave of Janet Blunt the folk music collector and Winnie Wyatt her maid who saved her notes on the dances from the fire after Miss Blunt’s death. the western extremities of the village are visited in the afternoon with the team dancing outside the White Hart, now sadly closed, at 2.00 p.m., in Manor Road at 3.00 p.m. and on the lawn of Le Halle Place, Miss Blunt’s former home.
After a brief stop for tea dancing picks up again from 6.00 p.m. onwards when the team are joined by guests, this year morris teams from Bloxham, Brackley and Windsor and of special importance for the continuation of the tradition dancers from Christopher Rawlins, the local primary school, The evening is rounded off with an informal get together in the village institute where supper is followed by music dance and song for everyone.