BARLEY BRIGG NORTH-WEST MORRIS

Barley Brigg at Aldeburgh

Now practicing for our 2024 dance season

Join us! if you fancy having a go, come along to a practice. We are a very friendly bunch!

Barley Brigg are a mixed morris side based in Yoxford, near the beautiful Suffolk coast. Founded in 1989, we dance the North-West tradition of morris which features sets of 8 or 12 in a dance consisting of a chorus ('step-up') and a number of processional and geometrical figures. The stepping is accentuated by iron-shod clogs with bells. We are instantly recognisable in our patriotic colours of red white and blue, and our impressive flowery hats!

This is where we're going to be dancing this season, but keep checking for additions and updates. Regular Wednesday pub sessions will start late April and will be added here.

Subject to short-notice cancellation if wet. Timings accord to 'morris time' (i.e. somewhat approximate!)

Date Time Where
Mon 26th December 2023 11.00pm By the Moot Hall, Aldeburgh
Boxing Day Dance with Oxblood TBC
Sun 1st January 2024 12.00 - 2.00pm Plough & Sail, Snape Maltings
with Pretty Grim & Danegeld TBC

Further dates will be added soon...

Dance Notes

North-West dances usually have a repeating chorus ('step-up') separating a number of contrasting figures, which include geometrical patterns such as star, crossover, hay (figure of eight weave) and cast (travelling from one end of set to the other). After the final step-up and applause there is usually a dance off. Steps include polka, march and single-step. Most dances feature two tunes, often in an AAB pattern.

Dance Comments
Grain's Bar New this year. An unusual staggered arrangement for the step-up, and a notable dance-off with everyone sidestepping each other.
Whitby Shindig A perennial favourite, the figures depict various landmarks around the town of Whitby: Flowergate, Abbey Windows, Swing Bridge, Up the Steps, Bandstand, Whale Bones. Danced with bobbins
Gisburn Danced with ribbon sticks to a jig, with an exuberant 'swing-down' figure near the end, followed by a mad dash off (to the bar probably)
Humphreys’ Hooley Unusual in that it is a circle dance. Written by Jill Parson in memory of Barley Brigg stalwart and all-round fine chap John Humphreys
Spitfire A popular dance notable for the unusual shape of the set which denotes the wings and fuselage of a Spitfire. Danced with traditional wooden bobbins to a polka step. With thanks to John Hakeman of Knockhundred Shuttles who devised the dance
St Helens A good dance with a striking tune in the minor mode. An energetic thrusting forward of sticks in the step up, a varied selection of figures including 'Royton' where we are in a St George's cross type arrangement, facing up the set then down dancing the Royton step
Old Halsnead New this season. A short dance with four figures, the last one being 'Snakes and Ladders', where we either go backwards in a line or forwards in a sidestepping kind of way- not sure which bit is the snake and which the ladder
Carr Lodge Polka Not a regular this season, but occasionally performed as a mass dance when with other N-W morris sides. Usually the cause of some hilarity as the other side invariably dances to a different tune and with the figures in a different order, with different names- this only becoming apparent as the dance is in progress. Cue end of session and a dash to the nearest bar
Public dance: Grenoside Elegant and very easy country dance ending with a snaking figure to get everyone in a big circle. Not at all energetic, suitable for all- resistance is futile!!

BB at Sheringham

We Need You!

It's fun, it's easy, it will help keep you fit, and we are a friendly bunch...

...and you will be helping to keep a tradition alive.

We meet to practice weekly during Autumn and Winter, and in late Spring and early Summer you will find us out and about at various venues on and near the picturesque Suffolk coast.

You are very welcome to come along to a practice session at any time just to watch, or to have a go, either dancing or playing. No previous experience necessary! There will be tea and biscuits...

Musicians

Regular practice sessions

September to April
Wednesdays 7.30pm to 9.30pm
Yoxford Village Hall

NB new earlier start time!

Old High Road, Yoxford, Suffolk  IP17 3HN
-just off the A12 at Yoxford, north of Saxmundham
///locate.shredder.stuffy 

Join us at a practice to see what it's all about- drop us a line first just to check the session is going ahead. See the bottom of the page for contact details

Morris is the best known style of ceremonial dance in England and the earliest references to it date from the 15th century. Distinctive styles of dance were recorded in the 19th and 20th centuries: Cotswold originated in the South Midlands, North-West in the mills of Lancashire and Cheshire, Border along the Welsh border and Molly in East Anglia.

Barley Brigg dances in the North-West style in elaborate and colourful costumes with the stepping accentuated by the use of clogs.

North-West dances are often processional in nature. A side consists of a dance leader and, usually, eight dancers. The leader calls the figures which are geometric patterns. A dance consists of a repeated chorus ('step-up') separated by five or six figures and a dance off to end. Steps are march, polka (rant) or single step.

Originally based in Laxfield in the heart of Suffolk, Barley Brigg takes its name from Barley Bridge, to be found at Barley Green on the road to Stradbroke, which led to the Hoxne Union Workhouse. The 'residents' of the institution, which closed in 1871, would apparently hide their possessions near the bridge going in, and retrieve them later when they left.

In addition to our Summer evening pub dances, Barley Brigg appear at a number of events in East Anglia and further afield. In 2012 we visited the Netherlands and danced at the famous Cheese Market in Edam. In July 2008 we performed at the Rättviksdansen folklore festival in Sweden. We have danced on the West Coast of Ireland, the Isle of Wight, and Brittany and Bouchain in Northern France. We have performed at festivals such as Folk East, the Wimbourne Folk Festival, Rochester Sweeps, Potty Festival in Sheringham and many others.

The costumes worn by Barley Brigg consist of red socks, blue breeches, white shirts, blue and red sashes, red and white neckerchiefs and top hats decorated liberally with flowers for the men; red tights or stockings, blue and white striped skirts, white blouses and black straw hats decorated with flowers for the women.

We wear traditional wooden-soled, iron-shod clogs on hard surfaces to really enhance the stepping.

We dance with a variety of hand-held implements which include cotton rope slings, decorated sticks, wavers, and vintage wooden bobbins from the woollen mills of Lancashire.

Music is an integral part of morris dancing and we have a fantastic band of musicians led by Ade on the melodeon.  

The musical line-up is constantly changing but generally includes D/G melodeons, guitar, mandolin, bass drum and other percussion. Sometimes a fiddle, recorder, or brass instrument accompany the dances with traditional tunes such as Rattling Bog, Tralee Gaol, Salmon Tails and the Floral Dance.

30 Years of Dancing

30 Years of Dancing 2019

Ni Gooding

Local Folk Music & Dance

Mardles- news from the Folk scene around East Anglia

Syzewell Gap- local Ceilidh band

Potty Festival Sheringham, usually first weekend in July. On the website is a video of the successful Guinness World Record event that Barley Brigg were part of in 2018

Other local Morris sides

Danegeld-North-West Morris, based near Woodbridge

Oxblood Molly

Pretty Grim Border Morris, based in Blaxhall

Other useful links

The Morris Federation The Uk's largest association of Morris and traditional dance teams

Latest News: Autumn 2023

  • Practice sessions for 2023-4 have started!
  • Practices are now 7.30 to 9.30, with more time for drinks, nibbles and chat after!
  • Wednesday evenings, Yoxford Village Hall

You are very welcome to come and join us at a practice session, Wednesdays at 7.30pm, Yoxford Village Hall. Everyone welcome, no previous experience necessary

You are welcome to just turn up, but for more information and to avoid disappointment in case a session is cancelled, contact the Squire: Rob 07986 602230  squire@barleybrigg.org.uk. There will be tea and biscuits.

If you would like us to dance at your pub or venue from April onwards, please email using the links below

We need a reasonably large space with a hard surface (not grass or shingle) to dance on, as we dance in clogs. Click on the link above for more information about North-West morris, and Barley Brigg.