Academic journal article Folk Music Journal

The Vale of Mowbray Sword Dancers

Academic journal article Folk Music Journal

The Vale of Mowbray Sword Dancers

Article excerpt

I have recently unearthed a newspaper report from 1899 of a Christmastide tour being undertaken in the then North Riding of Yorkshire by the Vale of Mowbray Sword Dancers. This is an additional sword dance team to those about which Cecil Sharp received information as a result of his postcard survey of incumbents in the bishopric of York in December 1912. (1) This newly discovered account is from the Northern Echo of 30 December 1899 and reads as follows:

  VALE OF MOWBRAY SWORD DANCERS.

  The Vale of Mowbray Sword Dancers, of whom Mr Robert
  Spence is in command, are at present making a tour
  in Richmondshire. Yesterday and on the previous clay
  the band visited Aske Hall [Figure 1] and the surrounding
  mansions, besides giving a series of amusing entertainments
  in Richmond. The dress was very smart and the performances
  very good. The other performers were Herbert Slinger (king
  of the dancers), J. Spence, John Hudson, T. Walker, W. Pearson,
  and Charles Hudson, whilst the clowns were Joseph Chisholm and
  John Wake. The party are making for Thirsk. (2)

Where both forenames and surnames are given for members of the party, I have attempted to locate them in the 1901 census, resulting in five good matches and revealing that the sword dance team was made up of manual workers from a cluster of settlements situated just to the east of Bedale. …

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