Ilmington Morris Dancers ring in 50 years of dancing

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Morris dancing team The Traditional Ilmington Morris Dancers are celebrating 50 years of dancing in the county of Warwickshire and beyond this year.

To mark this golden anniversary, Morris Dancing sides that have connections with the team are joining an afternoon of dancing around the village on Saturday 29th June 2024. Teams from Worcester, Gloucester, Chipping Campden and Bampton are confirmed to be attending. Dancing will commence at the Howard Arms pub from midday, weather permitting.

The Traditional Ilmington Morris Dancers were formed in 1974 (originally as the Traditional Ilmington Morris Men) to bring the Ilmington tradition of Cotswold morris dancing back to the village of Ilmington itself. Formed from local men, the side went on to become a major proponent of the Ilmington tradition, and has hosted many visiting sides to the village over the years. They have also travelled to Morris Dancing events around the UK and as far away as Denmark. The side has seen many changes in personnel over the years, and in 2022 decided to open membership to all who were interested.

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The side regularly dances out on St George’s day, May Day, Ilmington Open Gardens and the Ilmington Flower Show, but can also be found dancing locally throughout the summer when the weather permits. Workshops run every spring at Ilmington CofE Primary School have allowed new generations of children to engage with their local heritage, culminating in annual May Day celebrations at the school.

Traditional Ilmington and Ilmington Junior Morris Dancers on the steps of Old Fox House, IlmingtonTraditional Ilmington and Ilmington Junior Morris Dancers on the steps of Old Fox House, Ilmington
Traditional Ilmington and Ilmington Junior Morris Dancers on the steps of Old Fox House, Ilmington

Many of the dances performed today were collected from local musician Sam Bennett (1865-1951) in the Edwardian era by various notable folk collectors, including Cecil Sharp and Mary Neal, while a small number of dances have been written by the side in the modern era to celebrate special occasions such as the Diamond Jubilee of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

The TIMD are custodians of the oldest known Morris horse in the country in the form of ‘Sam’. Constructed over 100 years ago, ‘Sam’ was retired from regular use in 2021 due to his age and a new horse, ‘Samson’, took his place. ‘Samson’ was constructed using similar techniques to his predecessor by costume designer Naomi Parker, and thanks to the generosity of private donations has amply filled the role of public liaison for the team.

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