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What is Morris Dancing?

Lichfield Morris Dances

The History of Morris Dancing in Lichfield

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The History of Morris Dancing in Lichfield

Illustration of Morris Dancing

The earliest record of Morris Dancing in the City is in an engraving of about 1780 showing the Lichfield Whitsun Bower procession passing through the market square. The procession is lead by a pipe and tabor player, a fool, Maid Marion ( a man dressed as a woman) and eight morris dancers dressed in breeches and white shirts sewn with ribbons. They wear no hats or bells and clash short sticks together as they dance.

Beacon Boys
Truant School Boys about 1901

Early written records associate the Morris with the Whitsun Bower, an event dating back to at least 1132 which is still held in Lichfield on Spring Bank Holiday Monday. The morris men performed every year in the Bower until the late 1870s. From 1890 to 1914 a team of boy dancers from the Midland Truant School in Beacon Street appeared in the bower, led by a Mr George who was one of the pre 1890 dancers. From 1919 to 1929 another team of boys, led by George Gallimore, took part in the Bower.

Lichfield Bower in the 1920's

George Gallimore's Boys
George Gallimore's Boys

In the mid 1950s the Men of Mercia Morris Men from Burton danced in Lichfield and met a number of old people who remembered the old dances. They subsequently received the notation for the dances and were able to reconstruct them. The Lichfield Processional dance has been performed in the Bower since then, first by Men of Mercia, then by Green Man's Morris, in more recent years assisted by the present Lichfield Morris Men who were formed in 1979.

Lichfield Morris Men at the Bower