Alcester's White Hart Morris Men hold their traditional May Day dance - The Redditch Standard

Alcester's White Hart Morris Men hold their traditional May Day dance

Redditch Editorial 6th May, 2024   0

THE WHITE Hart Morris Men were up with the lark on Wednesday, to celebrate May Day with music, singing and dancing.

Members gathered at 5.15am at St James’ Church, Weethley, to await the sunrise and greeted the traditional beginning of summer with a traditional display of centuries-old dance style known as the Cotswolds Morris.

May Day is an ancient European festival that marks the beginning of summer and historically linked with Morris dancing.

White Hart originally formed in the White Hart pub, Headless Cross in 1972 but decided to make Alcester its base in 2005. The group have been dancing in the dawn at Weethley since the late 1970s.

The set dances include handkerchief, processional, stick and hand clapping dances. The men wear a white shirt, white trousers or dark breeches and black shoes. Bells are worn below the knee, and the dress may also be accompanied by coloured baldrick or a waistcoat.

Pete Neale, squire of White Hart Morris accompanies the men with tunes played on a pipe and tabor – a portable snare drum. They are sometimes joined by a fiddler. He joined in 1976 and said: “May Day has always been an important day for Morris men.

“In 1663, the diarist Samuel Pepys, was walking home from work on 1st of May and wrote, ‘in Leadenhall Street there was Morris dancers of which I had not seen a great while’.”

New members are welcome to join in the weekly practice sessions at the town hall, Alcester.

For more details on the group, check out the White Hart Morris Men Facebook page.

Story, pictures and video by Lise Evans. 

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