Redbornstoke Morris - The Origins of Names
The side name comes from the Anglo-Saxon “Hundred”, the old administrative area of Bedfordshire that included Ampthill. The badge worn on the front of the baldricks is an adaptation of the Redborne Upper School badge where the side has always met to practice.
The Tradition is named after the market town of Ampthill in Bedfordshire where Redbornstoke Morris was founded and based. The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon Aemethyll meaning “Anthill” or “Ant infested hill”: hence the Ant badge worn on the back of the baldricks by Redbornstoke Morris. The Ampthill tradition was first developed by some members of the side in 1983 as something different from the collected Black Book Morris traditions.
The Processional dance, was originally going to be called Alameda Parade but was then named after a lane in Ampthill. The Alameda itself is an avenue of lime trees created by Lord and Lady Holland in 1821 in imitation of the 'alameidas' they had admired in their travels to Spain and Portugal. The Alameda runs from Woburn Street to Coopers Hill.
Named after the Bedfordshire version of a pasty: a suet pastry roll with meat and veg at one end and apple or fruit jam at the other, separated by a thin wall of pastry. Often described by Barry Goodman in his introduction as “Lovely at one end, delightful at the other, a bit dodgy in the middle – rather like this dance!”
The first Ampthill dance, created in 1983/4. It is named after the children’s song that provides the tune and introductory verse. By tradition this is (nearly always) the first dance performed.
Finest (of them All)
Named after the song used for the dance, which was written by Dave Ritchie (it was the winning song in a National Song Contest organized by the magazine English Dance and Song in 1971). The dance was composed for the wedding of John Clifford, a team member who had lived on a narrowboat. It was danced at his wedding reception.
Hunt the Bunny
The dance has a “shooting” element in the chorus, which comes originally from a Bledington dance. The tune for this dance is The Innocent Hare. Need we say more?
Named by Brian Mander after he learned that the tune, written by Barry Goodman, was called The Ghost of Christmas Past. By association Brian thought of Ibsen, referencing Ibsen’s play “Ghosts”, hence the choice of name. Unfortunately, it transpired later that the tune was actually called Mr. Pickwick, but the name stuck!
Meg's First Kiss
This was originally a dance in the Marston tradition - see here - and was adapted to the Ampthill tradition. The dance was named after a lady called Meg, who became a great friend of the team at a Hastings Jack in the Green Festival in the 1990s. Her telling of late night “bedtime stories” was legendary, including the story of her first kiss.
Named because the middle pair in a dance usually get off quite lightly, in this they have to do most of the work. Not so much their revenge as revenge on them!
Danced in memory of “Absent Friends” it was named after the felt hat worn by the side’s first Fool, Jeremy Griffiths.. It is performed by five dancers and a musician. The tune is by Barry Goodman (the A music being variation on “Lumps of Plum Pudding” - Jerry’s signature jig), the dance was written by Brian Mander, the team’s Foreman (with a few short breaks) for a total of about 24 years.
From Brian Mander: As far as I’m aware Jeremy Griffiths was the first Redbornstoker to pass away (in 1991). Jerry was a lovely man, thoughtful and intelligent and had fooled brilliantly for the side. I wanted to write a memorial dance for him and for a long time I mused upon the idea of four different reels for the choruses. But it was only with the impetus of the death of Jim Gent, who had been our first Bagman that the ideas crystallised. The dance is named for the yellow and green felt hat that Jerry wore when he fooled. I consider it to be a seven-man dance but with the number two spot filled with memories and it should only be danced “for absent friends”.
The second Ampthill dance to be developed. Named after Nodder’s Way, a lane in Biddenham. Brian Mander recalled “We were dancing at The Three Tuns in Biddenham and Pete Langley had an idea for a short stick dance. So a number of us went across the road to Nodder’s Way to try it out”.
One Man’s Morris
Named after its tune, written by Graeme Meek. The chorus comes from another Bledington dance.
The third Ampthill dance to be developed. The tune (named Monk’s Gate by Ralph Vaughan Williams who collected it) is from the song Our Captain Cried All Hands but is probably better known as the hymn To Be a Pilgrim (also known as He who would Valiant Be). The words to the hymn were written by John Bunyan, the 17th century Bedfordshire non-conformist preacher who wrote The Pilgrim’s Progess. Bunyan used local geography in his book: The Hill of Difficulty is believed to be the hill formed by the Greensand Ridge to the North of Ampthill while the House Beautiful was Houghton House at the top of the hill. The dance chorus was devised by Harry Frost, a team member at the time, so the dance was also sometimes known initially as Frost on the Pilgrim.
Rik’s Finger / The Three Man Stick dance
It was originally given a working name of the Three Man Stick Dance. Nobody offered anything better until Rik Stokes, a team member, had his finger bashed during a workshop at the Chippenham Folk Festival in c2004. When dancing in France, it was announced as La Danse avec trois batons. The sticking is based on a chorus used by Downes on Tour (DOT) in one of their dances.
Slutt’s End was the 18th/19th century name for a rather untidy area that formed the upper part of Mill Street (now Woburn Street). The Chorus is based upon the Marston dance Meg’s First Kiss
Snuffing the Candles
The dance was written for the side’s 10th anniversary by Martin Banks
Named for the pattern of the chorus. It was devised in the early 1990’s but dropped from the repertoire sometime around 2010.
Pronounced “Sc’ut’all” to sound like “Scuttle”, it was named following a workshop in Harlington Scout hall on 8th July 2001. The side had always danced a “collected” Cotswold tradition as a contrast to Ampthill. Scouthall was developed by borrowing elements from various Cotswold traditions to give the team something that worked for us. The capers were developed in 2003.
Our version of the well-known Cotswold Morris stick dance. We developed a way of rotating the set during the chorus so there are two versions of this dance: a standard one and a revolving one.
Dance It Away up the Street
The tune used for this little-performed dance, was written by Barry Goodman as a song, Dance it Away up the Street, but works well with the three-part dance because of its structure.
Forty Years On
Developed to commemorate the team’s 40th Anniversary. The walked choruses were intended to give us a bit of a rest, a necessary concession in our advancing years, however the differing sticking patterns require greater mental agility to compensate. Danced to The British Grenadiers, it was also performed a few times as a Marston dance using a Minor version of the tune.
Juniper Hill (The Column Dance)
Named after the tune used for the dance, more commonly heard as a country dance tune. Juniper Hill is a hamlet on the Oxfordshire border, just over 2 miles south of Brackley. Flora Thompson was born there in 1876: she fictionalised the hamlet as Lark Rise in her Lark Rise to Candleford trilogy.
Named after its tune, a traditional Cotswold Morris tune. Also known as Knuckles as a reminder to be careful in the sticking
The Month of May
Added in 2005. The tune is The Sound of the Drum, which contains the line:
“In the Merry Month of May, when bees from flower to flower do hum…”
Started out as a hand-clapping dance but soon developed into hitting (or slapping) circular castanets together during the chorus. A good name for getting a cheap laugh during the introduction.
Scouting for Boys
The first Scouthall dance. Named after the famous book by Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout movement.
Added as an audience participation dance
Whitstable Hot Spot
An adaptation of Cheltenham Cold Spot. It was first performed at Whitstable on a warm May Day Bank Holiday Monday.
Having decided that the Cotswold style of dance did not suit the icy conditions of winter, the side experimented for a while with Molly. The Marston tradition was initially developed in the Marston Moretaine Scout hut at a workshop on 18th October 1998 and named for the Marston Vale (also known as the A421 corridor between Bedford and the M1 Junction 13). Until the mid/late 20th Century the area was famous for its brickfields. The first performance of Marston was in Dec 1998. It is influenced by both Molly and the Border Morris styles while the figures and dances borrow heavily from Ampthill. Later some of the choruses that developed were taken into Ampthill and Scouthall.
The 4 man dance was developed hastily after Andrew Hogg, a member of the side, went “walk-about” shortly before the team was due to perform. Hence the title.
The dance, like the name, is a twist on Billy Bones.
The brick-makers in the brickfields used to work in small teams or gangs led by a Ganger
Named for the historic hangers in Cardington, just South of Bedford, where the R100 and ill-fated R101 were built. One of the hangers is now used to construct film sets. The dance chorus is an adaptation of the Ampthill dance, Bedfordshire Clanger.
Cheltenham Cold Spot
First performed at a February dance spot in Cheltenham as part of the then Cheltenham Folk Weekend. It was cold! The story is that the finish to the dance was adopted when Andrew Hogg forgot to throw his stick.
Named as a pun on John Bunyan, the tune is a minor version of the tune used for the Ampthill dance Pilgrim.
It is what it says it is.
Named after an area of ancient woodland between Marston Moretaine and Cranfield where we once coppiced some sticks.
Ms Ashby’s Request
Ms Ashby, a resident of Merchant Lane, Cranfield, asked Chas Leslie (a neighbour and a member of the side) if one of the dances could be named for Cranfield. This was his response. The progressive chorus (from bottom to top with a change of side) can be confusing, Brian commented “This was a dance I liked, but flummoxed many of the side”
Meg’s First Kiss
Named after a lady called Meg, who became a great friend of the team at a Hastings Jack in the Green Festival in the 1990s. Her telling of late night “bedtime stories” was legendary, including the story of her first kiss.
Devised and named by Brian Mander. “At the time Sheila [his wife] and I danced International Square Dance. I based the chorus on a figure from that, adapting from 8 dancers to 6. I named it for Sheila”.
The dance was devised over coffee and written on a paper napkin at Cheltenham Folk weekend. The name comes from the Catering firm whose name was on the napkin.
The dance is a variant of Nodder Sway
The only “collected” tradition we continued to dance.
The Handkerchief Dance
As we always introduced this dance “The people of Upton had two dances, the stick dance and the handkerchief dance. This is one of them”. By tradition this is (usually) the last dance performed.