THE Winchester Morris Men, Hampshire’s longest-established Morris side, are celebrating their 60th anniversary by going back to where it all started – to the pub.
On March 11 1953 a group of enthusiasts met in the back room of the Eclipse Inn in The Square to form a new club: The Winchester Morris Men.
At that time there hadn’t been a regular Morris-dancing side in Hampshire for centuries. Sixty years later, at 7:30pm on Monday March 11, the present-day Winchester Morris Men will return to the Eclipse for a dance, a drink, and to celebrate.
The club's Squire, Albert Wilkins, of Harestock, said: “It’s great to be a part of this tradition. I’ve been a member since 1972 and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
The Winchester Morris Men are still dancing throughout the county and beyond with their traditional dances in distinctive white outfits decked with red and green ribbons.
They’ve become well-known throughout the Morris world, both for the quality of their dancing and for their annual gourmet feasts, where they cook and serve dinner to over 100 fellow Morris men from all around the country.
As well as dancing at local fetes, festivals and hostelries they've performed several times in Europe, including two visits to Laon, Winchester's twin town in France.
The side practices at St Barnabas Church Hall, Fromond Road in Weeke, Winchester SO22 6DY from 7:45pm every Wednesday from October to April.
New members are always welcome to come along, no previous dancing experience is necessary – all that is needed is enthusiasm and a wish to help maintain an ancient English tradition.
For more information, call the club’s recruiting officer, Matthew Wright, on 01489 890557.