One of England’s oldest traditions still going strong as it delights the crowds at Wimbledon Village fair
By Jack Costley and Reaz Zaid Kurimbux
London’s oldest established Morris dancing club impressed spectators at Wimbledon Village Fair last Saturday.
The Greensleeves Morris Men, established in 1926 and based in Wimbledon for 30 years, performed six dances incorporating wooden sticks, bells and handkerchiefs.
Merton’s multicultural residents were surprised and entertained by the energetic dances.
Nuriyah, a Somali mother, said: “It’s the first time in my life I have ever seen anything like this. It was strange but I really enjoyed it.”
In a scene more suited to the 18th Century rather than the 21st, a horse-drawn carriage carrying Fair-goers rolled past the dancing Morris Men.
It was the Greensleeves second appearance at the Fair which is organised by and raises funds for the Wimbledon Guild.
The Morris Men’s marquee was just one of dozens of stalls and activities on Wimbledon Common.
They were there to encourage new members to join them in the traditional dance.
Morris is England’s oldest traditional dance form with the first recorded dancing in Britain taking place more than 600 years ago.
However, Gerald Killingworth, the Greensleeves Bagman (or secretary), said: “The history of Morris dancing has been lost in the mists of time.”
While the exact history of the dance remains unknown, Greensleeves know exactly where they need to go if they are to keep the club alive.
Roy Fenton, club Squire (or chairman), said: “The future depends on young people.”
Their youngest member, Tommy, is only 14.
Mr Fenton added: “Tommy may spring up very high and shame us all, but we don’t mind.”
Mr Fenton said members dance for a range of reasons such as love of traditional music, fitness, companionship, or the sheer spirit of the dance.
Greensleeves will be holding a Taster Session on Friday 17 September at 8.00pm at the South Wimbledon Community Centre.
For information on Greensleeves Morris Men call Mr Killingworth on 020 8947 1126 or visit www.greensleevesmorris.org.uk.