The 234th Meeting of The Morris Ring.
Hosted in St. Albans by St. Albans Morris Men.
The 234th Meeting of The Morris Ring was organised by St. Albans M.M. from 6th to 8th July 1990. The Meeting celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of St. Albans M.M.
The Meeting was based at Marlborough Secondary School, St. Albans, on an indoor camping basis.
The following clubs attended: Bow Street Rapper (8), Bristol (12), Durham Rams (14), Ewell St. Mary (12), Green Man (12), Harthill (17), Kennet (12), Long Man (9), Mendip (15), Ripley (17), Trigg (13).
The weather was generally fine throughout the weekend, but rain late on Saturday afternoon caused the massed show to take place in a marquee on an impromptu basis.
On Friday evening there was an Ale in the school from 7.30 p.m., with informal dancing and singing.
At 9.30 a.m. on Saturday morning, after a cooked breakfast from 7.30 to 8.45 a.m., the men left on six tours – five were by coach, one tour was a walking tour of St. Albans.
The Royal National Rose Society’s Festival coincided with the weekend, and two tours visited their show at Chiswell Green -Tour 1 (Green Man & St. Albans) at 12.00 p.m.; Tour 4 (Harthill & Long Man) at 3.00 p.m.
St. Albans fielded a full team (11) to tour with Green Man, as well as providing at least two tour leaders for the other five tours – a great turnout by the local side. Each tour included a visit to a place of historic/cultural/rural interest, though Tour 6 (Bow Street Rapper & Mendip) was mainly a walking tour of St. Albans. For tours see Appendix A.
The coaches returned to St. Albans for a massed show in Verulamium Park. Throughout most of the weekend the weather remained fine: but just as the massed show was about to begin, rain started to fall. Alternative arrangements had been made, in case of rain, for the show to be held in a marquee near the “Inn on the Park” in Verulamium Park. As there was an Arts Festival in St Albans over the same weekend, permission had been given by the Arts Committee to use the marquee.
Everyone crowded into the marquee for a rather impromptu show (the Squire of the Morris Ring having to abandon his planned show): the atmosphere was friendly and happy, but also rather humid. The audience, seated and standing, enjoyed themselves, as did the stall-holders around the inside of the tent. All sides joined in the informality of the show: not all were able to perform and there wasn’t room for massed dances. Bow Street Rapper were a great hit with their double summersault. Mike and Adam Garland danced a double jig. Ripley M.M. joined in the fun. Beasts and fools mingled with the crowd.
Ripley MM dancing in the marquee. Photo from SAMM archives.
After the show, the tours went off to local pubs for more dancing – two tours joining together.
§ Tour 1 (Green Man & St. Albans) with Tour 2 (Ripley & Kennet) at the Plough, Tyttenhanger.
§ Tour 3 (Harthill & Long Man) with Tour 5 (Bristol & Durham Rams) at the Three Hammers, Chiswell Green.
§ Tour 4 (Ewell St. Mary & Trigg) with Tour 6 (Bow Street Rapper & Mendip) – at Green Dragon, London Colney.
Tours returned to Marlborough School for the Feast at 7.30 p.m. Top Table seating: Clifford Smith (St. Albans), Ray King (Past Squire of the Morris Ring), Mike Chandler (Squire Elect of the Morris Ring), Keith Francis (Bagman of the Morris Ring), Rev. Colin Slee (Sub Dean of The Cathedral and Abbey Church of St. Alban), Mike Garland (Squire of the Morris Ring), Mollie du Cane (special guest), John Seaborn (Squire of St. Albans and Bagman for the Ring Meeting), Robert Robins (Trigg and ex - St. Albans), Jack Thompson (St. Albans), Nic Nicolson (St. Albans, Overseas Bagman of the Morris Ring).
Mike Garland welcomed a number of guests - in particular Mollie du Cane, President of Hertfordshire EFDSS, who had been associated with St. Albans M.M. for over 50 years, and an honorary member of the Club for 20 years. Mollie was given a rousing welcome by the assembled company.
Sub Dean Rev. Colin Slee spoke the grace.
and Tarragon soup
Mackerel Pate and French Toast
Hertfordshire Casserole Lamb
Baked Potatoes and Beans
Cherry and Apple Strudel with Cream
Coffee and Cake
McMullen’s Country Bitter from Hertford
Mike Garland proposed the Loyal Toast, and then proposed the Toast to the Immortal Memory.
“I’ve connected this toast with many of the men who have left us recently – Ewart Russell, Morris Sunderland: last year we lost a lot of good men, which has tended to make the toast a dirge. However we should think of the enjoyment of the people watching the show in the tent this afternoon. We are here because we enjoy the dance, and we should enjoy the memory of all the men who have enjoyed the dance. Gentlemen, will you join me in drinking in silence to the Immortal Memory.”
Mike Garland then introduced Mike Chandler (Ring Squire Elect) – who really needed no introduction - who would take over at the Bristol Ring Meeting in September: “known to you as a member of the Whitchurch M.M., although for many years a St. Albans Morris Man.” Mike Chandler proposed the toast to St Albans M.M. He said that he was very pleased to propose the toast as St. Albans was the club where he had started his morris and was influenced to take up the pipe and tabor, though nowadays he was a less regular attender.
“We are here to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of St. Albans M.M., and I’d like to read the first entry in the log, recording the foundation of the club.
‘The club was founded in early 1930 on the initiative of Kenworthy Schofield, who said it was his custom to be actively associated with a morris club and that he would gladly act as leader, teacher and musician for the love of thing. His offer was eagerly accepted by a number of men (whose names are listed) including Donald Cassels and Humphrey Moreton (who, as far I am aware, with Kenworthy Schofield were the only founder members to continue in the post-war years).’
“Sixty years is a remarkable achievement, as there are very few revival sides who can equal this record. Although predating the Morris Ring, St. Albans were not involved with the six original clubs in the formation of the Morris Ring, but they were at the Inaugural Meeting and were the seventh club to join. Kenworthy Schofield was second Squire of the Morris Ring, and the club has had three other members holding the office of Squire of the Morris Ring – Donald Cassels, Lionel Bacon and Bert Cleaver - and I’m Squire-in-waiting. St. Albans have organised four Ring Meetings – 1949, 1966, 1977 and now 1990. The 1949 Meeting was the first post-war Meeting and was arranged by Humphrey Moreton, who was the architect of the Ring Meeting format as we know it – Friday Ale, Saturday tours and Sunday church parade. It is remarkable that in 40 years no-one has come up with anything better. Prior to this, Ring Meetings were mainly instructionals with a short tour on Saturday afternoon. On your behalf, I would like to thank St. Albans M.M. who have organised an exceptionally good meeting: we owe particular gratitude to John Seaborn, Club Squire and Ring Meeting Bagman. We have enjoyed ourselves, and will you drink with me to the health and success of St. Albans M.M.”
In reply, John Seaborn thanked Mike for his kind words about the success and history of St Albans MM.
“Organising a weekend takes a great deal of work, and our thanks are due to the members of the Club, and in particular our ladies who have catered so excellently for us this weekend. We are a long-established club and we like to do things properly.”
(Sustained applause for the ladies for their catering – they take a bow).
“The Club is proud to have provided four Squires of the Morris Ring and an incipient fifth Squire. Much that the Morris Ring does is very worthwhile – the work of the Overseas Bagman, Nic Nicholson (a St. Albans Morris Man), archival work, instructionals, and in particular the institution of Ring Meetings for the enrichment of The Morris. Will you join me in drinking the health of the Morris Ring.”
Vic Legge, Trigg – "Forward my Brave Boys"
Ripley – "Rolling Home"
Sandy Glover, St. Albans – "Bold Fisherman" (which Lucy Broadwood collected from Mrs Joiner in nearby Chiswell Green)
After the Feast, singing and dancing continued until the early hours.
Early risers had a swim in the school swimming pool between 8.00 and 9.00 a.m., the rest of the men enjoying a lie in. Cooked breakfast was served from 8.00-9.00 a.m. Men left in their own cars at 9.45 a.m. to travel to St. Albans for the procession at 10.15, via Market Place, French Row, High Street, George Street and Romeland, to the west door of The Cathedral and Abbey Church of St. Albans.
“Winster Processional” approaching the Abbey West Door. Photo by Times Newspapers
Solemn Eucharist was at 11.00 a.m. Hymns included “We have a gospel to proclaim,” “Lord of the Dance,” “Tomorrow shall be my dancing day,” “All my hope in God is founded.” St. Albans M.M. performed “The Rose” Fieldtown after the Offertory hymn. In his address, Reverend Mark Bonney welcomed the Morris Men:
“Dancing with profane origins can make a part of Christian celebration. Dancing is referred to in the Bible on many occasions. Moses saw dancing: King David danced before the Lord. The most famous dance in New Testament was Salome’s dance before Herod. Dance is an image of perpetual dance of angels. God has given us gifts and we can abuse them or use them for the glory and praise of God. May this and all our life be a praise to God.”
After the Church service, there was a massed show in Abbey Orchard from 12.30-1.30 p.m. where the sun shone brightly and made up for the rain of Saturday afternoon.
Durham Rams dancing rapper in the Abbey Orchard. Photo by John King.
Men returned to Marlborough School for an excellent buffet lunch before making their return journey home.
Appendix A - Tours
Tour 1. Guides: Jon Peett, Bob Combes. Sides: Green Man (12) St. Albans (11)
10.00 a.m. London Colney – Savacentre. 11.00 London Colney – Green Dragon. 12.00 Chiswell Green, Royal National Rose Society. 1.15 p.m. Aldenham, Round Bush. 2.45 Borehamwood, Meadow Park (fete). 5.45 Tyttenhanger, Plough.
Tour 2. Guides: Trevor Adams, Tim Attree. Sides: Ripley (17) Kennet (12)
10.00 a.m. Hatfield Town Centre. 11.00 Coleman Green, John Bunyan. 12.00 Amwell, Elephant and Castle. 12.50 p.m. Ayot Green, Waggoners. 2.30 Hatfield, Mill Museum. 5.45 Tytthanger, Plough.
Tour 3. Guides: Peter Walklate, Kim Winter. Sides: Harthill (17) Long Man (9) Adam Garland.
10.00 a.m. Welwyn Garden City, Howards Gate. 11.00 Lemsford, Sun. 12.00 p.m. Ayot St Lawrence, Brocket, Arms. 2.00 p.m. Knebworth House. 3.15 St. Albans, Oakwood School (fete). 5.45 Chiswell Green, Three Hammers.
Tour 4. Guides: Chris Hillier, Nigel Moorcroft, Alan Hart. Sides: Ewell St. Mary (12) Trigg (13).
10.00 a.m. Hemel Hempstead, the Pavilion. 11.00 Berkhamsted, The Boat. 12.00 noon Frithsden, Alford Arms. 1.00 p.m. Picotts End, Marchmount Arms. 3.00 Chiswell Green, Royal National Rose Society. 5.45 London Colney, Green Dragon.
Tour 5. Guides; Reggie Wellbank, John King, John Jenkyn. Sides: Bristol (12) Durham Rams (14).
10.00 a.m. Harpenden, Southdown. 11.00 Harpenden, Concourse. 12.15 p.m. Redbourn, Hollybush. 2.30 Whipsnade Zoo. 5.45 Chiswell Green, Three Hammers.
Tour 6. Walking tour of St. Albans Guides: John Cox, Gerald Farmer, Jim Rose. Sides: Bow Street Rapper (8) Mendip (15) plus Roger Cartwright and Jim Catterall.
10.00 a.m. Sumpter Yard. 10.45 Verulam Arms. 11.30 Christopher Place. 12.20 p.m. Fighting Cocks. 1.30 Rose and Crown. 3.00 (by coach) Tenterden House. 5.45 London Colney, Green Dragon.
Squire’s Tour. Leader John Seaborn. Mike Garland (Squire) Mike Chandler (Squire Elect) Keith Francis (Bagman).
10.20 a.m. Sumpter Yard (Tour 6). 11.15 Harpenden (Tour 5). 12.00 noon Ayot St. Lawrence (Tour 3). 12.50 p.m. Ayot Green (Tour 2). 1.40 Aldenham (Tour 1). 2.45 Royal National Rose Society Gardens (Tour 4). 5.45 Chiswell Green (Three Hammers).