A tremendous ceremonial sense of mystery surrounds the origins of ‘The Morris,’ and many theories abound. Like all good Folk Traditions, the Morris has been handed down throughout generations, and different villages had their own interpretations.
Some say that Morris is from the Latin, ‘Mores,’- old customs. Others say, that, as the dancers blackened their faces and so became anonymous & uninhibited, they resembled ‘Moors,’ – Morris being a corruption of this. In days of John O’Gaunt and the Crusades ‘Moorish,’ dances may have been ‘imported,’ to England.
Certainly the strange customs and characters that are associated with the Morris, together with the movements in the dance suggest earlier primitive religious or fertility ceremonials that were augmented by the agricultural themes of village life, as time passed. You have been warned!!
Morris dancing today owes its survival to Cecil Sharp. He was a Bachelor of Music and teacher, who, by chance on Boxing Day 1899 saw Morris Dancers and their leader Mr William ‘Merry,’ Kimber at Headington Hill, Oxon. Sharp then devoted the rest of his life to the collecting, teaching and publishing of Morris dances and Folk-song.
The broad term ‘Morris’, applies to the ritual dances of England – Cotswold Morris, Border Morris from the Welsh Marches, Molly Dances from the Fen Country, North West (Clog) Morris, Long Sword Dances from the North Country and Rapper Sword Dances from the North East, are all embraced.
The springs at Ewell, Surrey, have attracted man since the dawn of time, and were an obvious site for Pagan Rites. This, together with the evidence of Ewell’s subsequent civilisation – the Drover’s Road, the Manors, the Watermills and Henry VIII’s Palace of Nonsuch, suggest that 1979 was far from being the first time that the Morris was danced in Ewell Village.
Where to see us If you wish to see the Morris performed or maybe even join us, check up our fixture page or contact us by clicking our ‘contact us’ tab. Sometimes we are available if you have a special event you would like us to dance at.