May Day, Merrie England and more: Morris dances in Cumbria with Sue Allan

Date(s) - 26/09/2023
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm


Lectures and Talks

May Day, Merrie England and more

The late Victorians and Edwardians had a passion for patriotic celebrations incorporating Romantic ideas of ‘Merrie England’, complete with maypoles and Morris dancing and revived picturesque ‘ancient’ customs like rush bearing. Many Cumbrian towns and villages were encouraged to develop their own May Day celebrations and carnivals, encouraged by such local luminaries as John Ruskin and Canon Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley. In this illustrated talk, Sue Allan looks in particular at the Keswick May Day ceremonies supported and sponsored by Canon Rawnsley, and then focuses on the Morris dances performed at carnivals in West Cumbria, which she has researched for over forty years via written sources, former dancers and members of her own family. Sources for these dances include borrowings from Lancashire Morris traditions, early twentieth-century books on Cotswold Morris dancing and the influence of two individuals: Canon Rawnsley and west Cumbrian dancing master Oliver Cowper.

About the speaker

Born and bred in Cumbria, Sue Allan has worked in local radio, TV and for arts organisations in the county as well as writing for Cumbria Life magazine, for which she is still a regular contributor. For many decades Sue’s involvement in folk music was mainly as a performer but in more recent years she has concentrated on academic research and bringing the folk arts, customs, and dialect in Cumbria to a wider audience.

Location: The Armitt Museum, Rydal Road, Ambleside, LA22 0BL

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