Keeping tradition alive: Morris Dancing in Allens Green

PUBLISHED: 14:22 23 February 2012 | UPDATED: 21:05 20 February 2013

Keeping tradition alive: Morris Dancing in Allens Green

Keeping tradition alive: Morris Dancing in Allens Green

Helen Giles, one of the newest members of Fiddlers Brook Morris, explains why she decided to take up this very traditional pastime

Helen Giles, one of the newest members of Fiddlers Brook Morris, explains why she decided to take up this very traditional pastime

LAST spring I decided to do something with my spare time in the evenings. In the past I had seen a Morris dancing side of men and women perform at a local pub. They are known as Fiddlers Brook and seemed like a friendly bunch so I contacted them to ask if I could come along to a practice and see what it was all about.

By the end of the evening, I was hooked. I loved it! It ticks all the boxes: its great fun; it makes you think, and it keeps you fit!

It started on a warm Tuesday night in early April when I ventured out to Allens Green near Sawbridgeworth, not really knowing what to expect. It took me a while to find the village hall where they meet but then, as I pulled up, I could hear music.

Sometimes, when you join something new, it feels very unnerving to walk in where you dont know anyone but, to my surprise, I was made instantly welcome by the group. There were about six dancers and three musicians who were all very friendly and chatty.

On the first night, I watched Fiddlers Brook perform brilliantly a number of dances which involved them using a variety of tools of the trade: plain wooden sticks, twirling slings, and batons with bells and ribbons on. I was then invited to have a go at one of their dances called Gisburn which was a real hoot. Despite my many mistakes, they were very encouraging and supportive.

I have since found that a very important part of Morris dancing is the sociable side of things. Fiddlers Brook includes male and female dancers and musicians of many different ages, from 30 right up to 60 plus! From May to September the side dances out at many different pubs and festivals in and around the area, often with other Morris dancing sides.

Fiddlers Brook wear a distinctive turquoise and yellow kit, as well as clogs with bells attached which make a brilliant noise when they are stomping on the hard surface outside a quiet village pub. Whenever possible they encourage spectators to join in with a dance just for fun.

Current musical instruments include a mandolin, melodeon, concertina, recorder, banjo, and drums. New instruments and musicians are always welcome to join the group. Without live music there would be no Morris dancing.

However, since the group started back in the 80s, numbers have been dwindling which is a real shame. It is so important to keep this age-old English tradition going for future generations to learn about and enjoy. So if you are interested in coming along to see how much fun it is, then please contact Gill Munro on 01279 723707 and come along to our meetings on Tuesday nights from 8pm at Allens Green Village Hall.

Now is the ideal time to start Morris dancing as the group meets every week to practice over the winter so that they are ready to dance out in the summer.

More about us:

  • Fiddlers Brook Morris was formed in 1987 to allow men and women to dance traditional Morris dances of England together in a mixed side. The name derives from the name of the stream that flows through Allens Green.

  • The dances mainly come from the North West with a few from the borders of England and Wales

  • The group meets every Tuesday night (8-10pm) at Allens Green Village Hall (near Sawbridgeworth) from September to April. The group then dances out at various pub venues every Tuesday night

  • Catch up with them at or on Facebook as Fiddlers-Brook-Morris

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