Ditton Priors – Dancing and Dog Shows

It was a beautiful sunny day when we all pitched up to dance at Oak Farm for Oakfest 2022.                                            

Oak Farm, in the picturesque village of Ditton Priors, is a working farm run by Shropshire Council.  It is a day service for adults with learning disabilities who live in South Shropshire.  People who use the service travel from Bridgnorth, Ludlow, Church Stretton and the surrounding areas.

A 12 hectare (30 acres) smallholding, run on organic principles, producing high quality vegetables and fruit, some of which is made into jams and chutneys on site, Oak Farm also has livestock including sheep, pigs, alpacas, rabbits and a pony, as well as a flock of 150 free-range laying hens.  

Oak Farm sells its fruit, vegetables, eggs and preserves from its own farm shop, and through other local outlets and also provides training and work experience in horticulture and agriculture for people who may move on to permanent employment, and a supportive placement for others who, because of their disability, are unlikely to seek mainstream work.  

It was a delightful, friendly and rural setting to dance in. We had our own barn area cordoned off and, although it had its own interesting foibles (what dance area doesn’t?), the team managed splendidly and danced two 30 minute spots under the watchful eyes of two very pleasant PCSOs from West Mercia Police Force.  A really delightful English afternoon, with time to take in alpacas, the very well-entered dog show, ice cream, live music, and much more.

We even had the pleasure of the rarified company of local Twitter, YouTube and Insta legend Jimmy the Mower! 

Who says you can’t have everything?

Well done as always Shrewsbury Morris!

Annscroft Garden Party

Glorious sunshine greeted us on Saturday 14th May 2022 and it was, secretly, quite nice to be dancing a little closer to home, as we made our way to the Annscroft Garden Party, being held just outside Shrewsbury. Despite some false alarms, some accidental parking in the wrong fields and an eventual warm walk from the designated parking area, we were made most welcome by the organisers at their lovely house.

Fortunately our two dancing spots were short in the very hot weather, which allowed for some rehydration, chat and some lovely time spent looking round the stalls and the beautiful garden of our host.

All proceeds were going to Christian Aid and we were delighted, along with an enthusiastic ukulele band and lots of lovely visitors, to have helped in the raising of a very solid £1,282.26p.

A kind, appreciative audience and a slightly sloping space made for an interesting and happy afternoon, both teams relaxed and dancing well. Bull & Pump sang again (that’s taken a while!) and the Lasses and the band (to have lots of musicians is always a great sight and sound) were well and truly on form. A relaxed, fun and happy day dancing in the May sunshine for a good cause…….what could be better? 

Perton Carnival

Although we were all in bed on May Day whilst some brave souls were dancing in the early morning cold and dew, Shrewsbury Morris saw May in with an afternoon at Perton Carnival on Monday the 2nd.

Slightly left of Wolverhampton, Perton is a village with a real community feel and that was reflected in the large and friendly crowd as we arrived. The Wolverhampton Wanderers fans amongst us (well, Graydon and Ed) felt at home with all the gold shirts around and our team started with a large, enthusiastic and curious audience watching and who seemed to really enjoy our first 30 minute spot (of three).


We had taken another pretty big team with us and everyone had a good outing in terms of numbers of dances, our programme being another mixture of mixed dances and the usual specialised ones split between the Shrewsbury Lasses, Shrewsbury Clog and Bull and Pump Morris Men.

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We were well looked after in our allocated spot and, although the crowd ebbed and flowed a good number stayed with us throughout the afternoon which was nice.

We were also able to please a lovely lady called Kitty who was delighted by our dancing and who asked if she could have a photo of our melodeon players. An old friend of hers (Eric, who is now 92) was a melodeon player himself. Ray, Margaret and Barbara kindly obliged, which really seemed to make her day.  Shrewsbury Morris at your service!

The cobwebs are being shaken loose from our long Covid and winter break and we look forward to sunshine and fair weather now that we’re getting further into our 2022 Dance Programme.

Dancing, Damsels and Dragons

For our second public dance out of 2022, on Saturday 23rd April, Shrewsbury Morris Dancers were invited back to the lovely market town of Newport, Shropshire to celebrate the day that all self respecting Patron Saints enjoy…St Georges Day.

We took a big team back to one of our most loved towns, following the fun we had at the Food Frenzy in 2021, (which, incidentally we’re doing again this year!) and were immediately struck by the fun, friendly atmosphere.

Our first spot was outside a very popular coffee shop, (always a good position for us!) and we started with some of our favourite dances, right next to a Punch and Judy Booth which was later surrounded by laughing children…laughing at Mr Punch, not us, thankfully.

After narrowly avoiding a falling model of St George and watched closely by a very prominent dragon skull we had a good first dance spot, before a quick change in the programme (not unusual) saw the team forming up further down the High Street with a varied assembly of participants and then processing back up to the town centre (our banner displayed very prominently) where none other than St George himself, assisted by some suspiciously tiny mini Georges, fought with, and defeated, the ominous and very green Dragon…..who was assisted by some equally suspiciously tiny mini dragons!

Very Green, Ominous Dragon

The damsel, previously imprisoned by the Dragon, right in the middle of the roundabout was thus rescued from her captor (and the cold, one assumes) and they all proceeded to mix with a large and very family-oriented crowd before we began our second dance spot, the dragons apparently having been marched off to be turned into dragon sausages.

Victorious St George

Our mixed dances, honed in post-Covid practice conditions, proved very popular at this spot and were well received. 

Overall, our performances on the day led to our kindly being described by the organisers as “exceptional”.

Next stop is Todmorden Folk Festival on Saturday 30th April followed by Perton Carnival on Monday 2nd May.

“You dancing?”, “You asking?”, “I’m asking!”, “I’m dancing!”

….and so it was that Shrewsbury Morris Dancers took up the mantra of the famous TV series and, along with 36 other Morris teams (or sides), became Liver Birds and Boys for a day as we attended the Joint Morris Organisation Day of Dance in Liverpool, the self styled world capital of Pop.

It didn’t really start off with a “Pop” though because IT WAS COLD! Having stepped out of the warmth of the Boulton’s coach that got us there and with registering in the City Library, a great deal of furious warming up was necessary before The Shrewsbury Lasses finally got us underway in the lovely surroundings of St John’s Gardens.

So began a busy and fun day of dance which saw us perform in a total of six separate City Centre locations, along with a mixture of super and different Morris sides, all vying for attention along with the great, the good and the very smartly (and interestingly) dressed Aintree crowd and, later, the Hen Party crowd! The Shrewsbury Bull and Pump Morris Men should really memorialise the day by inventing a new dance and entitling it Peaky Blinders!

We all had fun, despite the occasional pitch (or set) invasion by the odd bystander and everyone danced extremely well (we were even on time at each spot……..which caused Bev not a little consternation….or was it confusion?)

Despite some sad personnel omissions due to Covid (we hope you’re all getting better), the team pulled together really well and the musicians kept everything on track all day…..well done as always Ray! 

It was a very tired but happy little group that arrived back in Shropshire at the end of a long Liverpudlian day.

As the Liver Birds might say…….”If you’re standing on the corner, all alone and feeling low, Shrewsbury Morris will come and grab you, dancing ee I ad ee o!

2022 – And Beyond!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

As Shrewsbury Morris collectively dance into 2022 we are (like many people) thankfully in a much better place than we were in 2020. It is important to say that our relatively healthy position is almost entirely due to the huge efforts put in by our leaders Ray and Bev Langton who, through sheer hard work and determination, have guided us through Zooming practice sessions, virtual fun and games, quizzes and all sorts of other distractions to ensure we have at least stayed together as a team.  They also cunningly devised a suite of socially distanced dances, enabling us to learn these at home via videos, music and instructions placed on our website so everyone could access them. 

From April 2021, after a change in Covid restrictions, we tentatively started back with outside practice, having found a super new home at Prestfelde School in Shrewsbury, where we are now regulars and it is important to thank the School for allowing us to be using their excellent facilities.

Slowly, but surely, we have now returned to indoor practice, albeit subject to all the current restrictions and rules laid down by the Government. But, more than this, we have actually danced out again, in public, in kit, our first time being on 3rd July 2021 in our spiritual home of Shrewsbury Square for a Stepping Out event. This was wonderful and most of the team turned out to dance our new distanced dance repertoire and, most importantly, to have fun and be Shrewsbury Morris Dancers again. We were even joined by Septimus, our very own Giant.

This was followed by us dancing for The Shrewsbury Mile of Smiles, again in July, an appearance at Battlefield 1403 in August for a harvest and heritage event, the reopening of the Mill Pub in Leighton near Ironbridge in the same month and dancing for the Newport Food Frenzy in September.

November saw us at long last perform our oft-cancelled Morris Show for the Cressage WI, which was very well received by the members….well they had waited long enough!

Our usual Christmas Ceilidh at Wattlesborough Village Hall had to be pared back to a Shrewsbury Morris Social Evening which, although much smaller and restricted mostly to team members and family, was still great fun. We sincerely hope to be back to some sort of normality by Christmas 2022. 

Our last event of 2021 was performing in December for the, always very special, Christmas Tree Festival held at St Chads Church. 

So, we hope we have made it through the worst of the pandemic, we have danced when we had early reservations whether we might ever dance again and we are a team again.

We look forward to 2022 with increasing optimism and we have events pencilled in already, some local and some not so. Either way we are looking forward to doing what we do best with renewed vigour and hope along with some fabulous, brand new sponsors to support us. All our events will be posted on our Diary page so please feel free to have a look and come and watch us.

Who knows, you might even want to join us? We’re always looking for new members….hint! 

Best Wishes from us all.

Septimus at St Mary’s

We are delighted to announce that we have moved Septimus, our giant puppet into the gorgeous St Mary’s Church in Dogpole, Shrewsbury. Open (and free) 10am-4pm except Sundays, why not pop along and have a look at our exhibition, see how he was built and, most importantly, who we are…

plus, of course, look round a very beautiful Shropshire church.