Fringe Box



Photo Feature: A Morris ‘Blitz’ Hits The High Street

Published on: 12 Jul, 2015
Updated on: 14 Jul, 2015

Part of the guildford fringe festival and organised by Mayflower Morris from Ash, the traditional (and not so traditional) Morris dancing “sides”, or teams, took to the streets of Guildford in a riot of colour, noise and mischief making, much to the obvious enjoyment of many shoppers.

Morris Storm 4

This team are from Dorking, hence the Dorking cockerel overseeing events. He might be a bit nervous buy a shop called Fox.

The earliest known and surviving English written mention of Morris dance is dated to 1448, and records the payment of seven shillings to Morris dancers by the Goldsmiths’ Company in London.

Morris Storm 5

All formed up nicely? Then we’ll begin…

Further mentions of Morris dancing occur in the late 15th century, and there are also early records such as visiting bishops’ “Visitation Articles” mention sword dancing, guising and other dancing activities, as well as mumming plays.

Morris Storm 6

They’ve got the sticks out… things could get ugly…

While the earliest records invariably mention “Morys” in a court setting, and a little later in the Lord Mayors’ Processions in London, it had adopted the nature of a folk dance performed in the parishes by the mid 17th century.

Morris Storm 7

Now it’s just a street fight… Where’s a fox when you need one?

The tradition of blacking up is believed to derive from rural folk with a “creative” philosophy of law abiding hiding from the authorities.

Morris Storm 3

These dancers are from the Hook Eagle Morris Men (Men? Has no one told the one on the left?) team who advertise “Two dozen years of free range, completely organic, epic dance”

The origins of the custom go back at least to the middle ages. There is a medieval record in Kent of a group of blacked-up woodland people who said they were servants of the Queen of the Fairies.

A 1485 law of Henry VII’s era that makes having a painted face in the countryside a felony. But this rural blacking was mostly about self-protection. Disguise was the poacher’s first defence against identification.

Morris Storm 2

To comply with equal rights for all clog wearers legislation this group has a token man.

Morris Storm 1

If they were kilts it would look a bit Scottish. Whatever, these girls were having fun.

Did you take any photos of the Morris Dancers on Saturday that you would like to share? If so, please send them to

Information for this article was obtained from Wikipedia and The Guardian.

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