King’s Lynn morris dancers call time on another successful season

Morris Dancing outside the Coach House in Thornham. Picture: Ian Burt

Morris Dancing outside the Coach House in Thornham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

The morris men of King's Lynn are calling time on another successful season after a spectacular display outside three pubs in Thornham.

For those who were up early enough to see it, The King's Morris took to the streets of west Norfolk at 5.15am on May 1 for its annual Dancing the Dawn Up ceremony at Knight's Hill, in South Wootton.

That marked the beginning of the popular society's 35th anniversary year, with members taking part in performances as far away as Copenhagen but also performing in King's Lynn, Hunstanton, Ely and at the Norfolk Lavender festival at Heacham a little closer to home.

The celebratory year finished much in the same way it started – with teams from across East Anglia joining them for traditional Cotswold morris dancing outside The Old Coach House, The Orange Tree and The Lifeboat Inn in Thornham.

They strutted their stuff in front of punters for between 30 and 40 minutes before walking one-by-one to the next pub on their list and finishing with an afternoon of folk music in The Lifeboat Inn.

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David Jackson, the society's bagman, said morris dancing was becoming more popular with audiences yearning for good, old-fashioned English culture – but said the group still needed more members to take part in dances in following years.

'By the nature of it, we keep a very high profile with the public,' he said. 'The May Garland is well known and particularly well received by the public. We put on a good show for residents and we do find people appreciate what we're doing from them in providing a free show. In more recent years, we've found the public are even more receptive.

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'It's just fun and you get the satisfaction of maintaining an old English tradition. The public seem to be taking pride in it because it's something particularly English.'

The popularity of morris dancing today is a far cry from days of old.

In 1835 the May Garland was banned by the old King's Lynn Corporation for being a 'public nuisance'.

However morris dancers of the time defied the ban. The King's Morris revived the tradition in 1983, presenting it on May 1 instead of the bank holiday, and has performed it every year ever since.

Although the Massed Morris Dancing at Thornham was the group's last major event of the year, those hoping to catch a final glimpse of the society in 2013 can still see them on Sunday at the Heritage Open Day in King's Lynn.

The organisation will soon start its autumn rehearsal season, which will allow the society to prepare for its 2014 season.

For more information, contact Mr Jackson on 01553 768930.

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