• Bath Insider Tours

Traditional English Folk Dancing


Morris men dancing in the streets of Bath

Last weekend I stumbled upon these Morris Men performing in the streets of Bath. The British are not renowned for their dancing. The Spanish have flamenco, the Argentinians have tango, the British ... well, we have an ancient folk dance known as Morris Men dancing. The tradition can be dated back to 1448 when there was a record of Morris Men being paid for a performance in London. The name is likely to originate from the French word "morisque" which means a dance.


The dance consists of a routine performed by a group of costumed dancers, musicians who use instruments such as a whistle, piano-accordion, banjos and props such as wooden sticks, handkerchiefs or swords which are used in the dances. Each Morris Men group have their own colourful costumes and songs and dance routines that have been passed down through the years. When I was young I used to see them perform at a local village fair every year. The dances were fun and entertaining and often an unsuspecting bystander would be roped into a dance! Sadly the number of Morris Men groups have declined over the decades however if you are lucky you may get to see a group perform at village fetes and festivals or ad-hoc events such as last weekend. Next time you are sightseeing in Bath or England - keep your eyes peeled and if you do spot one, do pause and take a moment to enjoy the show and this ancient British tradition!