As with all archaeology the earliest history is at the bottom of the page
Border… 40 years (2013) and still counting.
The major topic at past squires is generally the colour of the next sweatshirt. This year we discussed if it was the 40th year since the side was formed and agreed it to be so . Contrary to Welsh Border Tradition this was later researched and proved to be correct.
The problem then arose… how to mark the occasion? Our normal practice day and tour day being very celebratory how could you improve on perfection? A committee was formed (ie Barker went to the bar and we made up our minds before he returned!)
So the practice... Over 50 men turned up at eleven, drank some beer, practiced some dances and then bloated themselves with pig. Some ceremony was observed, a toast to the side given by Wilf and responded to by Barker, a poem by the late Gael Turnbull was recited by Whittaker and various men rendered a few songs.
And the tour... Over 60 men having decided to come, the coach was full (£8.00) and we had to have a couple of the side following by car. The day started for most as usual... with liquid and solid food at the Fox. By some mistake the coach left on time so we arrived at White Ladies Aston nearly early. Our best audience as usual hot mulled wined us, fed us with mince pies, filled the bag and kindly ignored our early attempts to coordinate our steps and moves - (its difficult with so many men and probably unimportant to the Border tradition.)
Pershore was good as usual but with the normal extended AGM to elect a new squire, Gary Chilvers, (selected in the normal “democratic” manner). By the time we reached Upton we had downed pork pies and cheese rolls). Upton felt better than for a few years, don’t know why? The landlord at the Kings Head was very friendly and generous.
The Thee Kings at Hanley Castle is only included because its such a good pub. As usual we crammed it out, Barker initiated a couple of men, (one young lady indicated she might be willing to undergo this if she were allowed to join, but I don’t think even we could be that untraditional). Some dancing took place in the quiet street outside the Three Kings before we encoached to Worcester, munching Mince pies as we travelled.
A good appreciative crowd at Worcester although we were less than appreciated by a rather over assertive lady who thought we were injuring her trade in the craft market inside the Guildhall. All then repaired to the Plough in Deansway or a newly re-beered and re-landlorded Cardinal's Hat in Friar Street. As usual I disembarked at home so I missed the cooking of the fish at The Fox.
Our Foundation "The Welsh Border Morris Men were formed in 1973 at the suggestion of John Barker by John, Dave Jones and John Aston, with the objective of running an occasional side, doing just one tour at the traditional time of Christmas, dancing the Welsh Border dances in Worcestershire and Herefordshire.
The start (From Scrap Book) "A Morris Team was formed with the objective of dancing only dances from the Welsh Border area, principally the counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire. The procedure that was adopted in 1973 has been followed in subsequent years, namely practices in August and December, culminating with a tour on the Saturday preceding Christmas, this being the traditional time of year for these dances to take place. The side has members who are also members of other sides, principally Silurian (Ledbury) and Faithful City (Worcester), but membership is open to any man who wishes to further the objectives of the club... The following dress was agreed at this meeting: Black face, white shirt with rags or ribbons, black breeches, brown wool stockings, black shoes and dark (undecorated) trilby hat. The final arrangement was that the ribbons would be 18 in number, each 1.5 inches by 12 inches. A turquoise sash and bellpads were added, and there is no stipulation on which shoulder the sash will be worn."
Tour 2012 A very wet year… we couldn't get to Three Kings at Hanley Castle as the road was flooded, but we still managed to dance at all other stops, John Barlycorn almost ensuring that the rain at least moderated at all stops. The good People of White Ladies Aston again turned up in numbers and provided refreshments. After a few years absence we returned to the Angel in Pershore for our AGM, despite the expense of the beer (for historians of such things over £3 per pint) We elected our only remaining dancing (?) founder, John Barker as Squire in preparation for our 40th year next year. He in turn proposed that he have an apprentice fool and Matt was appointed such. In the heat of the moment I was appointed Shepherd, my sole task seeming to be to shout 'on the bus.' All officers were as normally democratically elected the same by acclamation. Seven new members were initiated in the Star inn. At Upton, due to the new flood barriers, we danced below the River level.The coach was full, all but one seat ( we left a place for Mr Freeman but aches and agues precluded his attendance.) Whittaker started what is likely to be a new tradition of giving an inflight commentary on the coach. The singing seemed to be more in evidence this year than it has perhaps since we lost Roy. Unfortunately a member of the public was injured in Worcester by part of a shattered stick. the your.. WLA, Pershore , Upton and Worcester. The (very full, 50ish) practice was held as customarily at the Bell St Johns, Sausages being provided by Mr Narroway. Mr Sinclair failed to attend the pre-meeting trip to scout out the pubs it was rumored that he has taken to drinking coffee.
Tour 2011 If you made the 2010 tour to the Arctic Border regions you will know that the best laid plans were not fulfilled to say the least! So there was no Evesham visit and no “spare” funds for charity. The 2011 itinerary again attempts to return to Evesham. - our the first visit in 6 years. Of course the dance out being Christmas Eve is a factor this year so no lucrative hat-ing in Worcester as it will be too sleepy if we return there at our usual time. The thought is that most will want to finish promptly to get home at an appropriate time, so we'll try and finish promptly at the Three Kings.1. Tour details:(Very approx timings!) Fox Inn, Wichenford…. arrive 0800…. depart 0900 White Ladies Aston…... arrive 0945 … depart 1015 Evesham ………………arrive1045…. depart 1230 Pershore ……………… arrive 1300…. depart 1445 Upton-upon-Severn….. arrive 1515 ….depart 1600 The 3 Kings (Hanley Castle) ar.1615…. depart 1700 Fox Inn,Wichenford…… arrive 1730 6. The 2011 Fashion Item – a burgundy T-shirt!
Tour 2010 Despite the best laid plans we only managed to get to White Ladies Aston. Snow then forced us to go to Upton where we had a prolonged session in the Star. We returned straight back to the Fox, though this journey was much prolonged with men enjoying pushing the Coach and cars of those stuck on the road. All agreed that it had been one of the most enjoyable years. Last year we passed on any cash above our necessary reserves, £113, to Acorns Children's Hospice Worcester. This year we'll support the Air Ambulance. After much discussion and anguished deliberation, votes were cast and for the first time in 5 years the tour returns to Evesham. 4. The tour cost, collected on the coach, will be £7 The 2010 Fashion Item – a black waistcoat!
Tour 2009– the 36th! Practice Day Saturday 5th December, 11.00am – 4.00pm The Bell Inn, St Johns, Worcester Performance Day Saturday 19th December 1. Tour details: Fox Inn, Wichenford arrive 0800 depart 0900 White Ladies Aston arrive 0945 depart 1015 Pershore arrive 1030 depart 1200 The 3 Kings - Hanley Castle arrive 1230 depart 1400 Upton-upon-Severn arrive 1430 depart 1500 Worcester arrive 1530 depart 1645 Fox Inn arrive 1700 2. Practice day as usual at the Bell Inn, St Johns, Worcester. Our usual caterers, with the help of Narraways Butchers and The St John's Chippy, will again be arranging the traditional Welsh Border Christmas dinner. The Bell tenants continue to be very welcoming. 3. On the tour day the pre-tour breakfast will be available from 8.00 am at the Fox Inn, Wichenford – do note there will be no evening meals available at the Fox after the tour. 4. The tour cost, collected on the coach, will be remain at £6 which includes the traditional Clarke family mid-tour sustenance. 6. The 2009 Fashion Item – dark heather grey sweatshirt Despite some utterly fascinating discussion on what to offer this year, (it was very nearly decided to offer a particularly dated, shiny, quilted, unflattering, figure-hugging body warmer – i.e.farmer's wear, and guess who suggested it?), we are offering a dark heather grey heavy qualitysweatshirt (325g as opposed to 280g last time) for £13.50 for all sizes – S, M, L, XL and XXL. PTO We have decided to repeat the very successful tour of 2008 with no changes to venues or timing. A reminder again that the barrel of beer was not a great idea on the coach as it held up the movement in and out of the coach. Liqueur chocolates, black pudding and other extras that have appeared over the years – now that's a different matter entirely!
Tour 2007 – the 34th! Practice at the Bell with a New Landlord... who was as accommodating as Jo,. Over 40 men attending and all our dances practiced. One of men having over practiced his lifting arm was later banned from the Dragon. Tour was perhaps our largest with over 50 men attending and some times over 30 dancing, with I think four sets dancing Upton at Upton . Wilf again elected Squire in perhaps our shortest AGM at the Angel in Pershore. My grandson Josh was amongst nine new men to kiss the fish. We reverted back to Worcester tour and were duly rewarded with a down pour of rain soon after starting to dance in Worcester. We found it dry enough in the Plough in Deansway... though some lightweights made their way to drink German Lager in the Cardinals Hat. Performance Day Saturday 22nd December 1. Tour details: Fox Inn, Wichenford arrive 0800 depart 0900 White Ladies Aston arrive 0945 depart 1015 Pershore arrive 1030 depart 1230 Upton-upon-Severn arrive 1300 depart 1400 Worcester arrive 1500 depart
Tour 2006 The Hallow mafia plus Derick met and made the radical decision to do the tour as last year. (please note that Richard didnt turn up so all decisions could be reversed) A Polo shirt will be this years must have. Practice as usual will be in the Bell, but Joes leaving so watch this space. Dec 2006 Good attendance at practice…this is going to be last year with Joe as Landlord… Sausages from Narroways (cooked £25 for a hundred) Practice paid for itself as we raffled one of Les Freeman picture, and sold enough Xmas cards. Good turnout on tour though Richard S just dropped blacking off at Fox then went home for More to nurse his flue. Did Eversham which was good but took too long…so we were very late at Upton and even later at Hanley Castle. Keith Francis (Wilf) elected Squire, all other officers the same.
March 2005 We heard, just after Christmas that Roy Yarnell was critically ill. Today, March 17th, Roy lost his fight. He will leave a gap in our hearts. Our deepest sympathies go to Janet and his family. Roy was Border Squire 1999-2000.
Tour 2005 Ready for 2005? Tour this year will be on Christmas Eve ( and will be going to Evesham) The good news ...we have found the scrap book. Richard Sinclair wrote: On Saturday at great person sacrifice I went with John Barker and Dean (and Mor, but Dean drove) to the Angel at Pershore (for a fish check), followed by Evesham's Weatherspoons (well it's the one pub in the good beer guide) , then The Royal Oak, followed by The Red Horse, then to a Hook Norton house, but it was closed at 2.30......(crossed off list)...then to a nearby backstreet local (don't even know it's name, one real ale on though). We walked to two sets of public toilets to check availability (one closed so that sorted that), so we ended up with a plan for the Evesham stop: It takes 20 min from The Millers, so pee stop and coach disembark at toilets, walk round to pedestrianised main street, dance a bit, up to top of town to either Royal Oak and/or Red Horse (close enough to take half a bus full each, both with acceptable beer range). Then we drove to the Three Kings, about 4 by then so was shut, stopped at another one a few miles later that I also didn't catch the name of, but a possible alternative and will be open Xmas eve, arrived back at Dean's 4.59. Hard days work by all just to support you lot, but someone has to do it! (And we hope that that nice man in the green dayglow jacket with his roadside tripod camera didn't snap Dean, most unfortunate, who would expect that on a quiet country road. From memory the tour was great with plenty of dancers… and quite a good bag considering it was Christmas Eve.
Tour 2004 A sad start to the year, Gael is no longer with us. Several of us went to Edinburgh to dance at a concert to celebrate his life. Though we were made more aware of his celebrity as a Poet, it is of the man, kind , generous, modest and sincere I will always think of.
Dec 2004 - from Sinkers I am pleased to report that following some hard work by Richard Hannah and myself (well, someone has to do it) the beer quality at the Millers, Pershore and The Kings Arms, Upton was duly tested Thursday night and found to be of a suitable quality for Ken's charabanc tour. Brief visits were also made to the Angel (fish ordered) and the Anchor for information purposes. Spitfire appeared to be the only decent beer at the Angel, three Wadworth offerings plus a guest will be on at the Millers (landlord remembers the visit from the mayor of Ledbury...). Landlady reminded of the order for drink on Gael at the Kings Arms. At great personal expense (alone so I had to buy my own beer) I today visited the Three Kings, Hanley Castle, where we shall be most welcome. Did you know it was National CAMRA pub of the year in 1998? Butcombe, Sharp's and White Horse ales were amongst the six or more available, (and the lager tap has been tastefully covered over with a Hobgoblin sign)! Tour: went to Three Kings after Upton, great success! much music singing, good beer but no dancing at this spot
Tour 2002... And not much has changed. For the last three years practice has been at the Bell in St Johns. The traditional sausages have been provided by Daisy, John Barkers partner, while the chips have come from the Bull Ring Chippy. The tour had to be started at the Oak in Hallow in 2000 due to floods and has started from the Fox at Monkwood since. The years have proved profitable and despite the tour cost remaining at £4. some money has had to be given to charity. The main business of the past squires meeting has generally been to discuss the colour of the sweatshirt.
Tour 1998 A quick note about the last three years. Practice is now established at the Admiral Rodney. The Tour has started with Breakfast at the Camp at Grimley since 94, or the more traditional liquid breakfast at Parkfield Cottages. Lunch is now avoided, cheese rolls being provided en route instead. Beer at The Angel rose in price this year to £1.50 and for a unscheduled stop was made at the Monkey House at Defford. The tour finishes at the Camp, Jim providing a beef stew or similar. The evening tends to finish with song. The new format has seemed popular some 35 turning up for practice and over 50 men being on tour.
Practice and Feast 1994 A change of venue for practice, The Admiral Rodney at Martley. This being our 21st year we started later and finished with a feast. This was attended by some we had not seen for a while, Wilf, Super Steve, and one of our founders Nick. Not being wived Les was absent, his notice of change of practice venue and time had been mislaid. There were about 30 in attendance throughout the day. Beer had been negotiated at a pound a pint, whilst dinner cost the side £6.50 for each member. Tankards, to be supplied through Mr. John Whitaker, were commissioned. The room was fine for practice, whilst the food was adequate for our needs. Some speeches were made which were much appreciated by those who made them. Absent friends, Dave Jones, Steve Vigurs and Frank Byrne -Quinn were remembered.
TOUR 1994 Christmas Eve with a frosty start. The Numbers were lower than normal , petticoat government totally inhibiting the attendance of the Cleobury Villagers and reducing the Jockey contingent to three, Roy, ........... Stan reappeared after an absence of many years, spending the day dancing and carrying the sticks as a penance. The coach was well lubricated, the men being well warmed for the start at White Ladies Aston. A large audience of eight watched us, and two dogs were spotted. The A.G.M. saw Mr. Hannah resume the Squireship and Mr. Finn, under protest, accept the office of bagman. The most important post of foreman was again accepted by Richard Sinclair, to whom a later meeting of past Squires sent their appreciation. The tour foreman was absent due to the illness of his wife. Mr. John Barker, retiring Squire and founder, was deemed to be due a life post. Due to my stutter he was elected F.ing Fool for Life. The Landlord of the Angel created a new tradition in providing a filleted haddock for the fool. This was later cooked and ceremoniously eaten at the aforementioned meeting of past Squires. Les was again pursued by his femme fatal at Upton. He, perhaps, to avoid her stayed in the Angel whilst the rest danced, and then went into the Millers whilst the rest went into the Brandy Cask. In this hostelry Six new men were initiated. We were met at the Quay at Upton by Nick , who had threatened to dance with us again, but unfortunately had took frit of the weather. Richard Lewis failed to turn up, it being rumored that he was working. His brother, Tony, turned up white faced and danced with us outside the Anchor. The Swan provided excellent food, but less good, if friendly, service. Mr Whitaker slept throughout lunch. Worcester was quiet, Tim our new member from Exeter rumored to be a novice in the art, was very enthusiastic in his bottling, and was nearly arrested for a
Tour 1993 Much is lost in the distance of time. I recollect a goodly number turning up at practice, much of which again took place outside due to the clemency of the weather. The landlord being of a somber mood we retired to the Fox at Monkwood to enjoy our post practice relaxation. The tour took its normal form, Mr. John Barker being elected as Squire for the next year, he swapping office with Richard Hannah. There is rumour that we were not welcomed this year at the Monkey House. The waters were high at Upton, allowing us to dance on the quay but forcing us to paddle in the gents of the Swan at which inn we had a goodly lunch. The tour as usual was a success, the dancing being judged almost passable.
Tour 1992 A good twenty men turned up for practice this year. The room being small and the weather being clement we practiced outside. This had an unfortunate sobering effect. Many turned up for breakfast at the New Inn , the sticks being as usual for some mysterious reason misplaced , the start was as usual displaced. The coach arrived at White Ladies to find Mr. Hannah and others, in a show of unacceptable enthusiasm, had already started the dance. Gael had kept his promise and joined us here. A most unusual event here took place. A spectator, being somewhat concerned for the welfare. Being so slighted we departed after only two dances, mounting our coach and taking off for Pershore. The Landlord at the Angel not only provided beer at an advantageous price of £1 per pint but had a fish ready for John Barkers fools hat. The A. G. M., took its accustomed two minutes . The landlord at the Millers proved generous too when we retired there after dancing, putting £15 in the hat. Less than happy was the host at the Monkey House, where, for a change, we stopped for cider. Our welcome was so warm and the quality of cyder such that we moved on after one dance. The quay at Upton outside the Kings Head was under water some two weeks ago but the water having subsided we did not have to prove our miraculous powers. As usual the Lewises made their appearance here, being laggards. The Boars Head at Severn Stoke provided a good lunch and comfortable stop. Too comfortable Less complained for a good sing song. The final stop at Worcester took its normal inebriated form. Unfortunately one member not being able to take his booze became offensive when bottling. We made our way down to the Cardinals Hat again for a farewell drink. John Smith here complained at the lack of vigour in the dances, though what his view of this was unclear from the various bars he slumped upon. Ken not being immediately there, when we went to catch the coach, we danced opposite the Cathedral. Our final stop was at the New inn where all the various lost property was found, unfortunately though not by those who lost it.
The tour and practice 1984 - 1992 From 1984 to 1994 this started at the New Inn Sinton Green with breakfast, both solid and liquid. The first dance stop is at White Ladies Aston at about 9.45, the spectators consisting by tradition of one man and a dog, though the dog was absent this year.(1992) From there we go to Pershore . The Angel is our first stop, and it is here that the A. G. M. is held, this generally being taken somewhat lightly. This year a more somber moment occurred when Les proposed a moments silence in memory of Dave Jones, one of our founders who died this year. We now dance opposite the Angel, though in 1984 we had some difficulty with the Salvation Army occupying our position. Our final stop in Pershore is at the Millers Arms where John Barker last year (1991) started an initiation rite of blacking the left breast, in order to discourage female participation. This year he modified it by buying a pint for those so effected. I await our first female participant with curious anticipation! Upton is our next stop where we dance first upon the quay. Pub stops here vary according to our last years reception though most years we seem to end up in the Anchor, a couple of dances being performed outside before we go elsewhere for lunch. Lunch this year(1992) was at the Three Kings at Handley castle where a Game pie was provided at four pounds per head. Worcester is now our last stop where we dance outside the Guild Hall. Though for the last few years we have then retired to the Farriers Arms this year we made our way to the Cardinals Hat.
Practice Attendance at the summer and winter practices having become sparse it was decided in 1983 to hold just one practice, this to be an all day one held on the first Saturday of December. John Whitaker then being the Landlord of the New Inn Sinton Green he offered his premises as a venue and it has been held there since. These practices have become increasingly more successful, partly perhaps due to the meal of sausages and chips provided out of the bag. Transport The Cledbury men decided some seven years ago to travel by minibus and others joined them at Sinton Green, this proving popular the following year a minibus was arranged from Sinton Green On the next year the minibus was oversubscribed and since then a coach has been booked from Rodgers of Martley, together by popular request with their driver Ken.
Costume. This has changed little though the hats tend now to a brown trilby, often decorated in individual modes. Sashes and bells are provided to the men at cost. The original army surplus socks are no longer obtainable and so men have to find their own. Many men have taken to wearing black tail coats between the dances though again these seem less easily obtained at a low price. All of the original dances are danced in much the same manner, these being adequately described in Dave Jones's book. The only addition to the repertoire in recent years is Much Wenlock , this at the insistence of Richard Sinclair who is now Forman. Though the dancing at practice seems to be of reasonable standard that on tour tends to vary from bad to awful, this year not being one of the best, partly perhaps because of the large number (36) of men out this year.(1992)
Men Of the original side only John Barker and Richard Lewis now dance. Tony Lewis ,Richard Sinclair, Les Freeman and Dean Clarke being others of long standing. Gael Turnbull has missed the last two years since moving to Scotland but promises to dance next year. John Whitaker brought in a contingent from The Kings Men of Cleobury Mortimer though these tend to take more part in the pub activities than the dance. Richard Hannah similarly introduced the Kempsey men who have attended regularly for the last few years. This year (1992) men from Jockey attended and contributed well to the dancing and music. John Barker has encouraged a continuing attendance by Faithful City men, Mark Wescott being one of those noted for his own particular reason of voiding his lunch on the coach two years ago. Silurian have as a 'hole dropped out, digging their own pit of balletical Morris, though we welcomed, this year, an attendance by fiddler John Smith. In between times Caledonian Morris are represented fairly regularly by Mike. The younger generation have over the years been represented by Russell Barker, Matthew Smallman , Matthew Whitaker , Leo Stringer, Jacob and Thomas Hannah , and by my son Huw Clarke
Early History (1973 to 1984) "The Welsh Border Morris Men were formed in 1973 at the suggestion of John Barker by John, Dave Jones and John Aston, with the objective of running an occasional side, doing just one tour at the traditional time of Christmas, dancing the Welsh Border dances in Worcestershire and Herefordshire. The practices were held weekly during August, normally on Wednesdays, and two more before the tour, originally in a hall in West Malvern for the first two years, then at the Nags Head on Malvern Link Common until December 1979, then at the Star in Buckleigh Road. The tour has always taken place on the last Saturday before Christmas, rather than Boxing Day which was the traditional day in the area, as Silurian have always gone out on Boxing Day in and around Ledbury. The tour has always followed the same pattern with detail differences. The first stop is always Pershore where we liaise with the Round Table who collect in the town on that day. We have always been able to black up and set ourselves up in the Three Tuns in Pershore prior to dancing here. Then to Upton-on-Severn by the old bridge abutments (after dancing in Eckington in 1979 only), then again by the Swan in Upton in 1977-9 or in the town by the Midland Bank in 1973-4. Lunch in Upton in 1973-4, after that dancing and lunch at the Swan at Hanley Swan, with a session in the bar until closing time. Then to Barnards Green except in 1975 when we went to Worcester by Sainsbury's and 1979 when we danced at the Priory Gateway in Malvern. Then except in 1979 to Graham Road, Great Malvern. After this Tea in the Abbey Tea Rooms (in full regalia) in 1973-6, or sandwiches at the Nags Head in 1977-8, or all descend on Brian Holeman in 1979 (a few went chez John Williams or home). In the evening in the dark we danced by the Hop Pole at Bromyard in 1973-5 only. In 1976 the Kidderminster Mummers ran an informal ceilidh at Broadheath village hall for the side and friends, in 1977 nothing was arranged as it was Christmas Eve, in 1978 Dean Clark arranged an informal evening at the Talbot, Knightwick and in 1979 some of us went to Richard Lewis's party at Colwall Church Hall.
For 1973 membership was restricted to members of Faithful City and Silurian Morris sides, after then it was open to anyone, later any Morris man, by invitation (by who's invitation was never defined). Lists of members and officials from year to year are maintained by the bagman. Subscriptions were originally ten pence per man per practice, but it was changed in 1977 to one pound per man per year, so that men were not penalised for coming to practices.
Originally the Worcestershire dances were taught by John Barker, and the Herefordshire by Dave Jones. Later, when Nick Oliver became Squire in 1977, John Barker relinquished his position as Worcs Foreman to the Squire. However in 1978 all dances were taught by Dave Jones, using the results of his researches into all the traditions in both counties and in 1979 the Squire, Gael Turnbull taught all the dances in the absence of Dave for most of the practices and the tour. Part of the reason for this document is to record the dances as they were done before Dave rewrote them all in 1978, and also the minor changes that some of them underwent during the seventies."