Welcome victory for the morris men

By Farnham Herald in Local People

LINKS Tavern customers enjoyed a special treat when the Victory morris men performed their traditional Cotswold dances as part of an annual May Day tour.

Reliving an ancient tradition dating back to the mid-1400s and rediscovered by Victorian enthusiasts, morris dancing has enjoyed huge revival over the last century.

The Victory morris men, who hail from Portsmouth, were formed in 1975, and numbers around 50 members. They base their costumes on uniforms worn by sailors on HMS Victory in the early 1800s.

John Riches, who has been a member for 37 years, said: “On May Day, the start of our season, we traditionally dance and sing from dawn to dusk.

“We all got together for an early start at 5am, had breakfast at Old Portsmouth, then travelled up to The Hollybush, in Headley, to the Devil’s Punchbowl Hotel, The Links Tavern and Hollycombe Steam in the Country, finishing with supper and a few more drinks at Portsmouth in the evening.”

During the summer months, the side – or team – has a reputation in Morris dancing circles for being experts at singing folk songs. Usually, after the last dancing at the last pub, they retire to the bar and perform a selection of songs until closing time.

“We have travelled all over the world,” John recalled. “The Victory Morrismen have performed at the Great Wall of China, in Melbourne, Australia and many European cities, as well as in pubs all over Ireland.”

The side has a full programme for 2016, taking them right through to the end of September.

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