The Morris is England’s oldest surviving dance tradition. For at least five and a half centuries (perhaps much longer), it has been performed to welcome the spring, and to mark the turning of the year at midsummer and midwinter. One version of it was danced in Hexham until the 19th century, when - like many other rural customs - it fell into decline.
A local revival began in November 1976, at the Royal Hotel. Only a few dancers attended the inaugural practice, but numbers increased through the winter. Although most of the recruits were novices, Paul Tabbush, the team’s first “Squire”, got them up to a satisfactory standard for their inaugural performance.
Thereafter, in their costume of grey top hats, blue baldrics and individually embroidered waistcoats The Hexham morrismen became a familiar sight at Northumbrian events like the Morpeth Gathering and the Ovingham Goose Fair.
Hexham Morrismen have earned an excellent reputation for their dancing and are now established as one of the best Cotswold Morris Dance teams in the North. They perform a full and varied programme of Cotswold dances from Fieldtown, Ducklington and Lichfield also border and North East rapper sword dances.
They dance at many events up and down the country and on Thursday evenings during the summer can often be seen dancing outside (and sometimes inside) a number of public houses. All welcome to join us afterwards for more music singing and dancing. They are frequent travellers abroad and have represented the UK at many international festivals most recently The Azores in 2007.
Hexham Morrismen are proud to be keeping this colourful part of English heritage alive. However, help is needed for the future and new recruits are urgently needed.
Practice sessions are held on Thursday evenings between September and April in Acomb Village Hall near Hexham from 7.30pm. Any men or youngsters are welcome. No previous dancing experience is necessary - what is needed is energy, enthusiasm, a sense of rhythm and a wish to help us to maintain an ancient English tradition. If you are looking for a wonderful way to get fit and another year on the treadmill at the gym isn't exciting you - we may be just the answer.
If you're interested in trying Morris, or just want to find out more about how we enjoy it, contact Brian on 01434 684705