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 ~ Bedford Morris Men ~

" Founded 1932....Part of England's living heritage "

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Bedford Morris - Christmas Newsletter 2010

Bedford Morris Men send you Seasonal Greetings and a news update.  

Last December, we were privileged to dance at the Fine Companions’ Christmas party and also for our honorary member, Roger Nicholls, when he was presented with the Gold Badge of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, for his outstanding and life-long contribution to Morris and Folk dance and music. 

We carried out our traditional Christmas events: The Bedford Victorian Fayre; the “Carols and Capers” tour to the Turnpike; the Gate, Harrowden, then back to Bedford to the Devonshire Arms, and the White Horse, Newnham Avenue.  On Boxing Day, we danced on Bedford Embankment and then at the Swan Hotel, where we introduced the formal proceedings by singing the Boar's Head Carol.   The New Year started with our annual Plough Monday Plough Play tour, this year again remaining in Bedford.  We started at the Wellington Arms, before moving on to the Cricketers in Goldington Road, and then to the Castle, followed by the Three Cups, both in Newnham Street. 

St. George’s Day was celebrated with Border dances at the White Horse, and then a show for a Tempsford village event, where we performed the Plough Play and danced more Border dances.

The Summer Season started at 6.30am on the First of May.  Bedford, Offley and Letchworth Morris Men sang the May Carol and the Northill May Song.  A selection of Morris dances followed and then there were Folk Dances for all.  At the Ickwell May Festival on May Holiday Monday, we were again joined by Letchworth Morris Men to dance at the Crown, Northill.  The Morris led the Procession from Northill to Ickwell.  After a reviving beer in the Pavilion, we moved on to dance again at the White Horse in Bedford, this time for their beer and food festival.

We again danced a full Wednesday evening summer programme.  On the first Wednesday in May, we made our traditional first outing to the Fox and Hounds at Riseley.  The weather was chilly, but the Men were refreshed and invigorated by the barrel of beer so very kindly provided by our host, Jan Zielinski, who later joined us for some favourite songs until closing time.  On the next May Wednesdays, we visited the Swan at Elstow; the Horse and Groom at Clapham and the Sun at Felmersham.

On the first June Wednesday we visited the John o’Gaunt, Sutton and the next week the Polhill Arms, Renhold.  We danced a Cotswold Morris Tour in Bedford, visiting the Ship in St Cuthberts; the Castle in Newnham Street and finishing with dances outside, and jigs inside, the Cricketers in Goldington Road.  Later in the month we danced at the Pavilion, Ickwell.  In addition, representatives danced for the inauguration of a “Domesday” Plaque at Beeston; John Frearson and Les Skinner ran a Morris “teach-in” at Cauldwell Lower School, so the children could provide a massed Morris dance to represent England at their International Festival; and we also supported Armed Forces Day by dancing at the event at the Wellington, Bedford.

In July, again with five Wednesdays, we visited the Stone Jug at Clophill [on a Thursday - as guests of Letchworth Morris]; the Red Lion, Stevington; the Chequers, Wootton; and the Bedford Arms, Souldrop; before our final Wednesday evening of the season at the Bell, Odell, where we included a performance of the Abbotts Bromley Horn Dance.  We also performed at a Fete at Castle Road Lower School, Bedford

In September,  we had an invitation from the Aughakillymaude Community Mummers and the Mummers Foundation, based near Enniskillen, Northern Ireland to visit them and show them the Abbotts Bromley Horn Dance as well as Cotswold and Border Morris, and our Plough Play.  [see webpage There was a photo-shoot at Crom Castle; dinner, dance and song at the organic Orchard Acre Farm; performances and “teach ins” at local Primary Schools: Maguiresbridge C of E Controlled School and the Kinawley (Catholic) Primary School; dancing in the "Diamond" in Enniskillen and then dancing the Horn Dance at a bonfire event in the Irish Republic.  On the final day we danced at a threshing event and then at the evening event at Aughakillymaude Mummers hall, when the Horn Dance was danced for a final time to the light of braziers.  We had a busy but very enjoyable few days.

At the AGM, Clive Haste was re-elected as Squire; Ian Daye took over as Bagman from Angus Darling; and Richard Bird continued as Treasurer.  We danced two lively spots at the Bedford Beer Festival, together with two Letchworth Morris "volunteers".  The following weekend, we were out in great strength for the Apple Day event at Bromham Mill, again dancing two shows.

Our practice season is now in full swing, with some of the more ambitious dances being revived, now that some of our newer men are improving and continuing their training.  We can though still do with some more recruits.  We have now moved from Goldington Church Hall [we had been practicing since 1978] and can now be found at Ravensden Village Hall on Wednesday evenings [at a cost more easily funded by our audiences’ contributions in these belt-tightening times!]. 

In November, we also visited Anker Morris Men for their evening Ale at Chilvers Coton - an excellent evening with great music and dance, fine food and a choice of five real ales.

We will be dancing at various events in and around Bedford in December: the Bedford Victorian Fayre; on our Border tour just before Christmas; and on Boxing Day, when we will be in Bedford as usual on the Embankment and at the Swan Hotel.  In the New Year we will perform our Plough Monday Mummers’ play.  These events are listed elsewhere on this site. 

We thank our “hosts” for their generosity, tolerance and friendship through the year, and hope to see friends old and new, this Winter season and during the year. 

Meanwhile, Wassail, and a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year, from the Bedford Morris Men..

 

For details of how to join Bedford Morris Men; information on our events; or to check our programme - contact:

 Ian Daye -  Tel: 01582 883009;  Email: ian.daye@btinternet.com  - or visit  -  www.bedfordmorris.org.uk

For Archive information [items always welcomed]: John Frearson - Email: johnphfrearson@btinternet.com