Great to be invited to Highclere Castle to perform again, the magnificent location for the filming of Downton Abbey. A special 1920’s themed weekend with 20’s activities, entertainments and visitors encouraged to dress in period costume. Our kit needed no changes, morris kit – timeless and ever elegant! Pimms, cream teas, carousels and cricket – all rather English! A crisp Saturday and a balmy Sunday, perfect dancing weather.
We danced at the main entrance entertaining guests as they collected tickets, although proceedings slowed when both ticket offices were closed and locked by terrified lasses – yes, the horse had arrived…… Much chatter especially with Dutch and American guests. Two of our ladies were dressed up for the day, Jinny and Jackie both looked magnificent!
The Courtyard was our favoured spot – excellent acoustics, little wind, seated audience, tea available, sunny disposition and lots of toilets. Our ‘Green Room’ also close by which we shared with the very amicable and skilled Watership Brass Band. Plenty of other spots as well, busking happily and noisily. On lady had a fascination for stacking our hats, we happily humoured her as she top hat jengaed for ages. Our hostess, the lovely Countess of Carnarvon, was a great supporter, urging visitors and staff to have ‘a go’. Many, many amiable discussions with interested guests most of whom had never seen morris dancing before. We happily worked through just about our whole repertoire…and some. The Beast had a blast!
Many of us stayed over at a local campsite having been bizarrely placed in different corners of an otherwise empty field. An opportunity to present a present to our latest country member, Peter, now enjoying Bridport. A meal at the local pub with lashings of the quirky and rarely seen Arkell’s 3B bitter and then back to shanty town for scotch (sorry Rod for polishing off the Pulteney’s) and cheese and talking absolute rubbish for hours… A cold night, but a beautiful morning.
Sunday was more of the same with a whole new audience to delight! Many of the lads took the opportunity to explore the grounds, tour the house and linger at the excellent Egyptology exhibition. A number of us had taken the joyous opportunity to learn the Charleston from a lovely group of elegant young ladies ‘…love the percussive thing going on with the bells….’ And we had the opportunity to return the compliment a little later by teaching them ‘Shepherd’s Hey’. One of the group had missed that chance, but to avoid disappointment Polly was quickly engaged as our ‘Maid of The Mill’. Morris kit and flapper’s dresses – a perfect combination for a highly amused crowd.
Our final spot, near the performance marquee was a particular delight. We performed Balance the Straw, Sweet Jenny Jones, Banbury Bill, Glorishers and, the Countess’s favourite, Shooting. The audience were very engaged with Glorishers and enjoyed Shooting, lucky Rod having TWO of the Charleston lasses bring him back to life. A lovely end to a great weekend.
Andy Pobjoy, Andrew Armitage, Paul Lethbridge, Peter Stapleton, Steve Betts, Tom Brady, Chris Chapple, Ryan Cooper, Baz Crossman, Ross Healey, Ian Sutherland, Ian Young, Andy Young, Rod Crane, WFYH,