Adderbury, village near Banbury, North Oxfordshire.
Morris Dancing in Adderbury
- The earliest references to the Morris in Adderbury seems to date from the early nineteenth century, but it would appear likely that, as with with other local villages, a team may well have been in existence in the eighteenth century when Morris dancing underwent a surge of popularity.
At its height of popularity in the mid 19th century, Adderbury boasted three separate teams, all dancing during Whit Week at a variety of villages in the area, culminating in their attendance at the fair in Banbury where they were usually joined by two or three other teams from the surrounding areas. It was during this period that the Adderbury men began branching out and dancing at other times in the year to supplement their incomes.
After this period of prosperity, the Morris in Adderbury went into decline, finally petering out around 1880, only to be revived in 1912 by a group of young men from the village. This team danced regularly at village functions but sadly was decimated by the 1914-18 war with only two of its members returning. One of those, Charlie Coleman, was still alive when the side reformed in 1974, he was then able to recall quite lucidly his activities in this pre war team.
The current revival dates back to 1974 when a reformed Adderbury side, put together by the combining forces of Bryan Sheppard (an Adderbury resident born and bred) and Tim Radford. They, between them, enlisted a group of enthusiastic dancers from Adderbury and Banbury and worked very hard, (2 nights a week), rehearsing all the relevant material they had to spend the day dancing round the village on Saturday April 25th 1975.
This is now known as “The Adderbury Day of Dance”. It is a day long festival when the two Morris sides of Adderbury dance around the village and again in the evening when they are often joined by other guest sides.
Since 1976 there have been two Morris sides in the village and these two sides each dance their own interpretation of the Adderbury Morris Tradition.
It is known that a group of musicians accompanied the psalm-singing in Adderbury up until the early nineteenth century. This church band was still active in William Walton's boyhood, but would appear to have been disbanded sometime in the late 1840s (the musicianers' gallery itself was taken down as part of Gilbert Scott's restoration of St. Mary's Church, 1866-1870). Instruments used included violins, "bass viol", flutes, hautboy, clarinet and serpent. The musicians, as in other West Gallery bands, were working men of the village - labourers, artisans and tradesmen.
There was an overlap between the Christmas carols performed in church and the repertoire of the Adderbury waits, a group of musicians and singers who performed outside houses in the village at Christmas time. William Walton, who in 1846 joined the choir as a boy of ten, was able many years later to remember and sing multiple harmony parts of several of these carols to Janet Blunt - including "Adderbury Church", "The Old Hark Hark and "High let us swell". The waits' performances, too, seem to have died out in the second half of the nineteenth century, and carol singing was thereafter confined to church services (accompanied of course by the organ), and people's homes.
- Pickering, Michael (1982), "Village Song and Culture", Croom Helm, 1982.
- Tim Radford, Adderbury Tradition, The Morris Federation, 1989, ISBN 0-948383-05-4
this book contains the history of the tradition, copies of original notation from the Blunt manuscript and modern notation with easy-to-follow diagrams for 13 stick and 13 handkerchief dances. Includes photographs and music. Published as part of the Morris Federation's "Cotswold Morris Dancing Workshop Series", it draws on material from the Janet Heatley Blunt and Cecil Sharp manuscripts, The Morris Book II, and Roy Dommett's notes.