What a lovely, fantastic day! We first went to Chippenham Folk Festival last year and so enjoyed it, we hoped that we would be re-invited to this year’s festival. We were invited, along with 58 other dance sides, and a fair dose of wall to wall sunshine, to make this a superb 50th Anniversary for the CFF.
There was an incredible diversity of dance groups from the folk world, covering all the different Morris/Molly, Welsh and English dance, Appalachian step, and Belly Dance traditions, all of which dazzled the good people of Chippenham town who were there and stood to watch.
Dance sides that particularly impressed were Hammersmith with their light hearted, but excellent dance style, Martha Rodens and Shropshire Bedlams with the latter looking like giants, and Seven Champions and their sister side. Bells Angels Border looked good as did a host of other sides, too many to mention.
So where did Sweyns Ey Morris fit in with all of this? The answer is they fitted in extremely well and gave a very good account of themselves! We were only able to muster 7 dancers due to holidays, and a few family birthday celebrations. However this did not not diminish what we were able to do.
We performed at three dance spots, as well as the main procession where we did a Speed the Plough variant, dancing right into the Festival Field where we impressed one of the organisers who include our dancing in their Facebook film! We mainly did Adderbury, Bampton and Fieldtown dances with a smattering of Badby Banks of the Lea.
Lichfield Vandals of Hammerwich was done with the aid of a bod from the crowd who looked suspiciously like ex dancer Jonathan Baker!
There’s no need to describe all the individual dances done, as several of the photos that follow will show them. Needless to say, by the time we performed our last dance at 4:30pm, we were well and truly beasted!
Big well done to Alison B who danced virtually every dance and to Stewart who soldiered on with a very painful hip. Big thanks to Sian, Kev and Roger B for playing their excellent music which is a joy to dance to.
One aspect of a festival like Chippenham is that you never know who you are going to meet there. We met lots of people who have had past associations with Sweyn’s Ey and it was great hearing Martin Hughes, and MJ Searle playing for sessions. Dave Lock, Julian Lander, Jonathan Baker, and Paul Rosser were there. Stephen Coad’s son was also there as well as John Mills’ daughter the latter two being dancers from over 50 years back!
Hopefully we will revisit this festival, and maybe get to stay, and make a weekend of it!
Photos by Paul and Stewart (more on our FB page).
We have not seen a lot of Ken Simpson recently. Ken was our Squire and fiddle player, joining the side in the 1980s, and being a regular until around 2012. Keith suggested that it would be a good thing to visit him during a Thursday Evening Tour, and so this we did, last night. Ken was totally in the dark about our intended plan to visit, although his family were indeed part of it, and there was an amusing moment in true ‘You’ve Been Framed’ manner when Ken realised there were some Morris dancers outside his house! ‘What the ‘eck are they doing out there!’ or something close to this was reportedly heard!
We were able to dance on his front yard, with his family and neighbours coming out to watch. Ken’s fiddle was duly brought out and he joined in with our band, playing tunes that we dance to on as fine an evening as you could hope to find.
We danced Lads of Bunchum, Constant Billy, Speed the Plough and Vandals of Hammerwich and Ben did a jig. Ken enjoyed the display and after, we reminisced about old days passed whilst Cheryl his daughter brought us beers and sandwiches. Long may your kettle boil Ken!
We next visited the New Inn in northern Clydach, a place we have visited in the past. The pub is idyllically sited in the deep valley where the Lower Clydach river flows through, what was once an area of intense coal mining activity. Add to that a large frontage at the pub, a couple of good ales, and most importantly, a receptive appreciative audience, and it is easy to see why it is a popular choice!
We danced British Grenadiers, Shooting Adderbury, Badby Banks of the Lea, Brighton Camp and we were able to dance Caseg Eira Nantgarw where Alison H & Alison B danced it for the first time in public! The small crowd outside (Ieauan the landlord and his wife drive folks out of the bar to watch us!) were impressed, and some wanted to join in, so we had two sets up of Brighton Camp, and it all went well!
We gave up dancing when the light started to go and bats started flying around, feeding off the midges of which there were a few feeding on us!
We were unable to get to the Millers, Ynystawe, but hopefully will go there another evening.
Lovely evening had by all.
We visited two pubs in Bishopston, The Joiners and The Valley Hotel, on a gloriously sunny evening which was certainly a lot cooler than it should have been for mid May. Those who had brought their rag jackets to wear were glad they did!
At the Joiners, we danced Fieldtown, Adderbury and Bampton mainly, which enabled Alison B to demonstrate how much she has learned since joining us earlier this year. There was an audience outside who appreciated our performance.
The Joiners always does good Ale and the London Pride they had as a guest was really good.
The Valley Hotel is a short walk/stagger from The Joiners and we danced a more expansive Adderbury set there, performing Shooting which we really should do more often. We were also able to do Lichfield Vandals of Hammerwich, and Nantgarw Caseg Eira which added a degree of complexity to the evening.
We learned that sadly, The Valley is having to close. The loss of a pub on Gower is always disappointing, especially when it is one like The Valley who have always generously welcomed our Morris displays and our Mummers Play performances at Christmas. Sweyn’s Ey Morris hope the closure is temporary and that it will soon reopen.
We took a bit of a drive over the Bridge into Wiltshire to attend the Greenman Festival in the charming stone town of Bradford on Avon. According to the publicity, there were to be 35 dance groups there and an expected 5,000 visitors descending on this picturesque place and judging by the crowds there, they possibly were correct on those estimations.
Jaunty our horse went exceptionally early to participate in the Jack & Jill in the Green parade through the town (Stewart Wright = hero) whilst the rest of us (2 musicians and 11 dancers) arrived to dance at the Westbury Gardens display area, where we performed alternately with Spank the Plank and Cornucopia American dance groups.
We kicked off with British Grenadiers Fieldtown which seemed to please the crowd watching us, and performed other Adderbury and Bampton dances in what was a relaxed dance spot.
Timbrells Yard pub was a good gathering place to discuss strategies on how best to cross the Avon to get to the next spot at Trinity Church, and the Otter Ale sold there was superb!
At Trinity Church we found ourselves dancing by the footbridge in company with Knights of King Ina who are essentially a side that dance Morris Jigs. We also danced with them at Chippenham, last year. We gave a good account of ourselves, dancing for the best part of an hour, with the highlight possibly being Vandals of Hammerwich which went superbly well, without the usual chanting of instructions in the hey! We finished with Bonnie Green for as many as could dance it. The C8th Saxon Church nearby was a joy to explore!
Our final spot was an hour later by the Weaving Shed, picturesquely sited by the river, where we danced along with Zdravets Bulgarian Folk dancers and Northgate Rapper. Zdravets’ dances were slightly longer than ours so we did an even more relaxed set of dances as a result.
Northgate Rapper were superb! I think some of their number joined us on a Rapper tour of Swansea Pubs a year before COVID Plague kicked in, but we did not give a good account of ourselves on that occasion!
Northgate are everything a Rapper side should be, young, all roughly the same height, athletic and very crisp with their stepping, although there was not a great need for too much of that as they were performing one explosive figure after another! One wondered at the incredible flexibility of their swords with the shapes they were pulling them into.
That was the end of our day’s dancing although Kevin stayed overnight to see other aspects of the festival.
Would we return? Most definitely, as it is a joy to see so many different sides and diversity of dance types and styles. It is a very well run Festival, from a dancer’s perspective, and must be a joy to watch from a public one.
Photos by Paul and Andrea (more on our Facebook page).
We started dancing on the piazza at 19:30 with a stunning backdrop of Swansea Bay and the stunning Bannau Brycheiniog in the distance. A rainbow announced our arrival across moody skies as dancers leaped into action with British Grenadiers and a small crowd gathered in eager anticipation.
Between dances the team dashed to a public house to refill tankards and quench dry mouths, leaving a groove in the concrete only Speedy Gonzales would be proud of. Meanwhile, Jaunty our obtuse horse, relished in making adults and children scream alike, with menacing lurches and jaws snapping. Jaunty’s hip was hurting so he retired early from further malarkey.
At half time, we took a gentle stroll down the coast to perform opposite the Pilot until the setting sun waved us on our journeys
home. Some couldn’t resist the smell of more ale and were drawn like a moth to a flame for a nightcap at the Park Inn.
British Grenadiers, Fieldtown
Rose Tree, Bampton
Brighton Camp, Adderbury
Constant Billy, Headington
Step and Fetch Her, Bampton
Postman’s Knock, Adderbury (1 ½ times)
Lads a Bunchum, Adderbury
Speed the Plough, Bampton
Banks of the Lea, Badby
Vandalls of Hammerwich
Bonny Green, Bampton
Words by Stewart.
Whilst the Coronation of King Charles was taking place in London, we visited the Tredegar House Folk Festival in Newport today, entertaining the masses there. Sadly, rain prevented us from dancing until the afternoon but we were able to give displays in the Courtyard Marquee and the Main Dance Marquee. We were able to field two full sides so we started our sets with Brighton Camp and Lads of Bunchum for twelve dancers and it looked very good.
Apart from ourselves, friends Isca Morris were there as well as a Cornish folk dancing group called Hevva, Matenik from The Czech Republic and Schwabische from southern Germany. Gwerinyr Gwent dancers were also there.
It was great seeing many old friends at the festival. That’s what makes them so good!
Sweyn’s Ey were up before the lark this morning, dancing the Sun up in reasonably decent conditions. It took a little while for the Sun to show from behind some clouds, but show it did and the small crowd of people who came to watch were blessed with a one hour set from the side, with Erin dancing out for the first time with us. We were also joined by Morwenna and Bob Williams from Cardiff Morris, who made up for the absence of Stewart and Ken who sadly couldn’t make the day.
We visited the King Arthur Hotel for a substantial breakfast and then treated several of their guests to a further display before we joined a Gower Society event on Reynoldston Green, to give more dancing and then involved several watching there in the Brighton Camp Stick Dance.
A short break of an hour at Sandy Lane enabled batteries to be recharged for a final display at Murton Village Fete on the green, with our day finishing at 2pm when we handed over to some Ukrainian dancers. Don’t think any of us will have any trouble getting to sleep tonight!
Photos taken by Paul Tarrant.
Most of our blog posts are written by Paul Tarrant (our archivist), with occasional contributions from other members of the side. Each post goes up first on our Facebook page, alongside a lot more photos than we put on the blog. Check out our Facebook page right here if you want to see more!