|The dances you will see performed by the Winster morris men are their own and exclusive to their village. The first mention of the morris at Winster is in 1863 though it seems to have been well established by then. In 1908 Cecil Sharp, the well known folk dance and song collector, visited the village and noted down the five dances that were being performed.|
"The Blue-Eyed Stranger"
"The Reel" and the famous "Winster Gallop" More recently, other dances have been introduced including:
"The Queen's Morris" (to honour Winster's Queen)
"Joe P." (in memory of a former musician Joe P Rains)
"Flag Waving" (to celebrate the village twinning with Monterubbiano in Italy)
"Taddington Morris" (noted by one of the Winster dancers from the Derbyshire village of Taddington where it had last been danced in 1931)
"Jester's Morris" (to honour the Jester character)
and in 1994 "Rose of Taddington" (in memory of Dave Bathe a former dancer).
A full team comprises sixteen dancers, though all the dances can be performed with a team of eight or twelve. The two files are called the 'Ladies' Side' and the 'Gents' Side', the Ladies' Side being distinguished by the flowers in their hats. The rosettes and ribbons that each dancer wears on his costume are unique to the individual dancer, though the basic arrangement is the same.
The dancers are traditionally accompanied by a musician, who plays the melodeon, and by four characters; the King and the Queen who preside over the dancing, while the Witch and the Jester entertain the crowd with their antics. All four are men.
Despite short breaks in the tradition during the last hundred or more years, most notably during the two world wars, Winster's morris dancing continues as strongly as ever. Roy Witham, the leader of the team, sums it all up: "We hope you enjoy watching our dances and will join us for our finale - the famous 'Winster Gallop' !"
Telephone 01629 650778