2 July 2011 - Royal Borough Morris Day of Dance

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Royal Borough
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Kettle Bridge was very pleased to be invited to be part of what was billed as the Last Dance Tour of Royal Borough Morris. Other participating sides were - The first stand was at the magnificent Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. We congregated in front of the main castle building where there was a spacious dancing area. However, the surface was covered with small loose stones which was fine for the Cotswold sides but far from ideal for dancing in clogs. After a short debate, it was decided that Kettle Bridge would see how their first dance went and take it from there. Thankfully, there were no mishaps so we were able to dance with the castle providing a magnificent backdrop.

Each side danced in turn and Kettle Bridge performed Annie's and Aughton. The second dance ended in spectacular fashion with the dancers disappearing into the castle! With all the dancing done, several sides took the opportunity for a "team photo" in front of the castle.

Then it was time to move on to the second location which was the Castle Inn at Chiddingstone. On arriving at the pub, it soon became clear that there was a serious logistical problem. Parked each side of the road adjacent to the pub was a multitude of classic cars, all sporting badges showing that they were taking part in the Ghent-Eastbourne-Ghent Car Rally. Click here to see what I mean. You may even spot in one or two of these pictures some morris dancers lurking around in the background and a rare sighting of the webmaster!

What's the difference between a classic car and a Kettle Bridge dancer?
A classic car comes in all shapes and sizes, has rather too many miles on the clock, is quite difficult to handle compared to a younger model, is not as quick as it used to be but has been lovingly maintained, is very pleasant on the eye and is universally admired, especially by older men.
A Kettle Bridge dancer however ... oh, there's no difference at all.

Anyway, we all managed to park not too far away although it was a bit of an uphill walk to the venue. Not only was the pub swamped with rally drivers and morris dancers, but there seemed to be a wedding party going on as well. The rally drivers were supposed to have left before we arrived but their lunch break was overrunning, so we grabbed a bite to eat while waiting for their departure. In the event, the dancing started before the cars had gone which meant that the dancing area was a little restricted. Eventually, the cars drove off and we could spread out a bit more.

As usual, the sides took turns to perform. Kettle Bridge entertained the audience with renditions of Manx, Colne and Cossington.
Click here to see a video of Manx.

All too soon it was time to move on to the next stand which was on Royal Borough's home turf of Tunbridge Wells. They had chosen an excellent dancing spot that we have used before, in The Pantiles just outside the Tourist Information Centre and conveniently located for the Duke of York pub. Not only that, it was market day and there was a pie stall within smelling distance.

The Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Crier, John Scholey, was there to greet us. Much to my surprise, he turned his hand to playing the melodeon still in his full regalia, accompanying Rampant Rooster. I have subsequently discovered that he is a member of their side and he must have been with them all day and I hadn't recognised him!

Kettle Bridge's set consisted of Ealuscerwen, KBC Processional, Prescot and Cossington, all flawlessly performed and much appreciated by the audience.
Click on these links to see videos of the dances.

Boughton Monchelsea did a dance entitled "Maiden's Delight". Can you tell from the pictures which one I am talking about? It was during this dance that a street cleaner strayed onto the dancing area, much to eveyone's amusement.

Royal Borough has a horse (technically a unicorn) that apparently goes by the name of Dommett, a venerable name in the morris world. As you will notice, he turns up in rather a lot of my photos, but can you count how many appearances he makes? Answer at the bottom.
He met his match though when he sat on Sandy's lap and received the "sharp" end of Ian's clog. All in good fun, though.

There was another unusual sight to behold when Royal Borough and Rampant Rooster joined forces to perform Postman's Knock. As they each do slight variations of the dance, it proved even more entertaining than normal, but they did start and finish at the same time! The Tunbridge Wells stand was completed with a mass-participation Cotswold dance, much enjoyed by all.

The final destination was the Huntsman pub in Eridge Green. The only dancing area available was outside the pub in the road which was on a slope, had a fierce camber and featured a steady stream of traffic; perfect conditions, in other words. But this didn't put the dancers off and Kettle Bridge managed Aughton and Horbury with no mishaps.

Then it was time to relax, rest our weary bones, have a refreshing drink and enjoy the barbecue that had been provided by the pub. A delightful end to a long but rewarding day.

P.S. Dommett appears in six photos by my count.