Stave dancing has its origins in the Friendly Societies of the South-West of England, in Somerset, Dorset, Devon, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. These forerunners of the Trade Unions held an annual Feast Day, which was the climax of the Society’s year, and people came from miles around to join in the celebrations. The day began with a roll call of the society, after which an orderly procession formed behind the band. A march to the church for a service was followed by a feast at the club house. Later on the public joined in with music and dancing.
There was a great variation in the size and style of the staves used by the societies. Some had simple wooden tops, and others had ornate brass tops, each one different, depending on the village from which it came. The brass tops tended to come from the villages nearer Bristol, which had a large brass industry in the 18th century.
The dances performed nowadays are usually identified by the name of the village from which they came. The former Royal Manor Morris side danced some of the original dances, but also wrote and performed dances of their own, in the original style. One of these, entitled Dorset Clipper, was written and first performed to celebrate the arrival of the Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race in Weymouth.
Royal Manor Morris
Royal Manor Morris were a ladies side from the Island and Royal Manor of Portland in Dorset, England performing traditional Cotswold Morris dance from the villages of Bampton, Ilmington and Eynsham. In addition they performed dances from Lichfield and traditional Dorset Stave dances. Royal Manor managed to celebrate their 20th year but despite national press coverage in the Guardian newspaper in connection with a campaign relating to public entertainment licences the side could not attract sufficient younger members and the bells were hung up at the end of the 2001 season. Some of the remaining fit members moved on to join Frome Valley Morris as they changed from a men’s to a mixed side.
The programme for Summer 2001 was Royal Manor’s last season with the highlight coming on 14 July with the 20th Birthday bash/Charity Night at the Cove House Inn, Chiswell, Portland. At the end of the season the decision was taken to close the side!
Links to other dance information
(Section last revised/updated October 2016)
Note these links were updated due to the rewriting of the website but are unlikely to be rechecked due to the demise of RMM. However if the sites have gone remember it was the other party that broke the link!!
Royal Manor Morris reunion page on Facebook.
Front page for Morris Organisations from UK, Australia, USA & N Zealand Morris Dancing.Org
The Morris Federation co-ordinate much of English Morris Dancing Home Page Morris Fed
List of morris and sword teams world wide web pages morris-teams
Morris Federation Dance team finder for uk
Shave the donkey – on line Morris news.
The Mudcat Cafe – a folk scene resource of outstanding interest. Chat, lyrics and much, much more. RECOMMENDED Mudcat