Morris dancing is a form of English folk dance usually accompanied by music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers, usually wearing bell pads on their shins. Implements such as sticks, swords and handkerchiefs may also be wielded by the dancers. In a small number of dances for one or two people, steps are near and across a pair of clay tobacco pipes laid one across the other on the floor. They clap their sticks, swords, or handkerchiefs together to match with the dance.
The Kennet Morris Men are based in the Reading area, although you can see us performing throughout Berkshire and South Oxfordshire - and even Hampshire. This season they will be performing dances in the distinctive styles that developed in the Cotswold villages of Adderbury, Bampton (new this year) Bucknell, Ducklington, Fieldtown, Hinton in the Hedges, Oddington and Sherborne, and farther afield from the City of Lichfield and Upton upon Severn.
Icknield Way Morris Men are a nationally known Morris dancing side that perform at festivals, weddings, parties and shows all over the country. We are mainly found dancing in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Wiltshire, but are usually seen performing outside pubs in the Vale of White Horse.
The Morris has been danced in Wantage since at least 1565, where churchwardens accounts show that 16d was paid for 'a dasson morys belles' and, in 1590, 'lyveries' (costumes) were provided by John Eshmond for 4s 6d. The last reference to the Morris locally was in 1885 when it was danced by 'laddes of ye Royal Burgh of Wantage' before the sports began at Lockinge House. Nothing is known concerning the side who danced, but the dance was referred to Cecil Sharp in 1910. Unfortunately, there are no records of any Wantage variations of the Morris dance.