Adderbury Day of Dance, April, 20

The annual Day of Dance, normally held on the last Saturday in April has over the past 45 years evolved into one of the most important annual events on the village calendar. The three sides: The Adderbury Morris Men, The Adderbury Village Morris Men and Sharp and Blunt start dancing mid-morning and continue at various locations around the village until the evening. Each of the sides have their own individual routes which cross over at key places.

The Adderbury Village Morris Men (AVMM) start their day by visiting the grave of Charlie Coleman in the churchyard. Charlie Coleman was a village blacksmith and a member of the revival Morris team that was formed in the early part of the 20th century. Charlie and four other members of this team joined the armed forces during the First World War. Charlie was the only one to return and this ended the Morris revival at this time. However Charlie, once again as a much older man, played a significant part in helping and encouraging the Morris revival in 1975, by providing information.

In 2008 the AVMM visited the memorials of those members of the early revival team that had been killed during the First World War. At each memorial a simple service took place, which included the reading of a poem chosen by one of the team. A poem called ‘Adderbury Sunrise’ compiled from verses written by Richard Thompson and Janet Blunt was read out by Chris Garrett, an AVMM Morris Man at the memorial bearing the name of Ronald Pargeter.

Originally, the simple ceremony to commemorate the life of Charlie Coleman  only included the singing of a Morris Song called ‘The Happy Man’. Over time this has evolved to include the reading of ‘Adderbury Sunrise’ and in 2011, a song celebrating the day called: ‘ The Day of Dance ‘.

With the current restrictions in place, the 2020 Day of Dance had to be cancelled. Chris Garrett local resident and AVMM member felt the Day of Dance should not go unrecognised and so on Saturday mid-morning went to the grave of Charlie Coleman and read aloud the verses of ‘Adderbury Sunrise’.

Chris Garrett reading ‘Adderbury Sunrise’

 The words of ‘Adderbury Sunrise’ were written by Janet Blunt and Richard Thompson and compiled by Chris Garrett in 2008. A video of Chris reading his poem can be viewed from the link:

In addition to Chris Garrett’s tribute in the churchyard, various members of the three local Morris sides celebrated what would have been the traditional date for the Adderbury Day of Dance as well as they could during lockdown. Chris Leslie, our celebrated local fiddler, performed his one man Jockey to the Fair Jig whilst simultaneously playing his fiddle in social isolation. AVMM’s Bagman, David Snell, danced an unusual variant of Shepherd’s Hey Jig with his neighbour, who dances for Sharp and Blunt, separated by their shared garden wall.

Representatives of AVMM and Sharp and Blunt dance the Shepherd’s Hey, separated by a garden wall

In addition, five members of the current Squire’s family, all regular performers for AVMM, with the help of modern technology in the form of Zoom, managed to perform four dances simultaneously in three separate villages using music recorded by musician, Donald.

Tommy Ekers (left) and Squire John Ekers dancing in Aynho

Report by Chris Garrett and John Ekers