The Morris Ring
Abingdon Morris - A Living Tradition
The continuing tradition of Morris Dancing in Abingdon is very old. In 1560, the accounts of Abingdon's parish church had an entry detailing the purchase of "two dossin of Morres belles".
The side dances in the Cotswold Tradition. Its dances are its own, and it doesn't do dances from outside its own repertoire. The side's yellow and green colours represent the growing and the fully ripe corn so important to the agricultural heritage of Abingdon's people.
Abingdon Morris doesn't live in isolation as just a set of dances. Morris dancing survives in Abingdon as part of a unique group of interrelated customs involving the Ock Street Horns, the Election of the Mayor of Ock Street, and the Mayor's regalia. On the Saturday nearest the nineteenth of June, people who live or work in Ock Street exercise their right to freely elect their own Mayor. The current Mayor, Roger Cox, and his family are closely connected with Ock Street. Charles Cox, a carpenter, was Mayor of Ock street in 1894.
The physical artefacts associated with our Morris are also significant. The Ock Street Horns are reputedly the horns of an ox roasted in the town in 1700 which were later won as a trophy by the men of Ock Street in combat with the men of The Vineyard at the opposite end of town. The Horns are carried on a carved wooden mask which is certainly of some antiquity, and we never perform without them. Alongside the Horns, we have The Mace, a turned apple-wood chalice with silver decoration, said to have been made from a club used in the fight. This is carried by the Mayor of Ock Street as one of his symbols of office, along with a sword.
Demonstrating that Morris is a living tradition in Abingdon, the Morris side has added three new dances to its repertoire in recent years (bringing it up to 17 dances - click here for the full list ).
Abingdon has always been associated with non-conformism which sometimes breaks out into riotous behaviour, and Morris is no exception, as an exerpt from the Reading Chronicle for 1864 shows. Today's side is every bit as anarchic.
As well as electing a new mayor of Ock Street each year, a new set of officers is elected at the side's AGM in October. Click here for a list .
To view our current consitution, click on this link: here