Step into the world of morris dancing this weekend as Whitchurch Morris Men celebrate turning 70

An archive photo of Whitchurch Morris Men
An archive photo of Whitchurch Morris Men

A whopping 180 morris dancers from across the country will descend on Aylesbury Vale this weekend - to help celebrate the Whitchurch Morris Men’s 70th birthday.

On Saturday 19 morris sets from areas as far afield as Manchester and Durham will perform at locations around the Vale.

Whitchurch Morris Men dancing during one of the Christmas light switch-on events in Tring

Whitchurch Morris Men dancing during one of the Christmas light switch-on events in Tring

Four separate tours will then culminate at Watermead Piazza at 4.30pm for a spectacular display.

And on Sunday morris performers will join the festivities at the Aylesbury On Sea event - fresh from a special service of celebration at St Mary’s Church.

The Whitchurch Morris was born in 1948, when two families, the Hogstons and the the Aldermans decided that they wanted to start dancing.

Alan Hogston, son of founding member Charlie remembers: “Morris dancing is something that has always been a big part of my family’s life, since I was very young.

An archive photo of Whitchurch Morris Men in action

An archive photo of Whitchurch Morris Men in action

“I remember trying to copy my father.

“I didn’t join as a teenager because I felt that it was really my dad’s thing, but I kept in with the lads after my father died in 2009, and about six years ago I started dancing.

“My father never saw me dance and I wish that I had started earlier.”

He added: “The wonderful thing about morris dancing is the fun and cameraderie, we go out every Tuesday evening in the summer, and in the winter we practice every Tuesday evening in Wilstone Village Hall.

“It is so much fun - but it is important to do it properly and get the dances right.”

And the group - which is known in the morris world as a ‘set’ has gone from strength to strength - with dancers from all walks of life talking part.

Alan said: “We’ve had vicars, plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, school teachers and bankers - we say that within the Whitchurch Morris you can get anything done!”

Many people will be familiar with the Whitchurch Morris, from their tradition of dancing at Coombe Hill at the May Bank Holiday - which began in 1989.

In 2008 the set had a big celebration to celebrate 60 years together - but it is thought that this year’s event is set to be the biggest and best yet.

Alan added: “I remember going to the 60th, but I think that 70 years is an extra special event.

“We’ve got many more people coming this year than in previous years.”

If you would like to find out more about the Whitchurch Morris - or would like to register an interest in becoming part of the set, you can go to www.whitchurchmorris.org.uk

All tours will leave Stoke Mandeville Stadium at 9:15am, and return there by 6:30pm.

Tour 1

09.40 – 10.25 Jansel Square, Bedgrove, Aylesbury HP21 7ET

10.40 – 11.25 The Broad Leys, Wendover Road, Aylesbury HP21 9LB

12.00 – 12.30 Top of Aylesbury High Street, HP20 1SH

14.15 – 15.00 The White Swan, Whitchurch HP22 4JT

15.15 – 16.00 The Pilgrim, North Marston, MK18 3PD

16.30 – 18.00 Watermead Piazza, Aylesbury HP19 0FX

Tour 2

09.45 – 10.30 The Manor Waste, Wendover HP22 6EA

11.00 – 12.00 The Grand Junction Arms, Bulbourne HP23 5QE

12.30 – 13.15 The Half Moon, Wilstone HP23 4PD

15.00 – 16.00 The Rose and Crown, Wingrave HP22 4PD

16.30 – 18.00 Watermead Piazza, Aylesbury HP19 0FX

Tour 3

10.00 – 10.45 The Amersham Memorial Gardens HP7 0HR

11.15 – 12.00 The Red Lion, Little Missenden HP78 0QZ

12.30 – 13.15 The Hampden Arms, Great Hampden HP16 9RQ

15.00 – 16.00 The Manor Waste, Wendover HP22 6EA

16.30 – 18.00 Watermead Piazza, Aylesbury HP19 0FX

Tour 4

09.45 – 10.30 Princes Risborough: Horns Lane [in front of M&S] HP27 0AJ

11.00 – 11.45 The Whip, Lacey Green HP27 0PG

12.30 – 13.15 The Three Horseshoes, Towersey OX9 3QY

14.30 – 15.15 The Bell, Chearsley HP18 0DJ

15.30 - 16.15 The Crown, Cuddington HP18 0BB

16.30 – 18.00 Watermead Piazza, Aylesbury HP19 0FX

Morris Sides attending:

> Benfieldside Morris Men, Durham

> Dartington Morris Men, Totnes, South Devon

> Durham Rams Sword and Morris Men, Durham

> Ellington Morris, Maidenhead, Berkshire

> Etcetera Morris Men, Enfield

> Jockey Men’s Morris, Birmingham

> Leeds Morris Men, Leeds, West Yorkshire

> Leicester Morrismen, Leicestershire

> Letchworth Morris Men, Letchworth, Hertfordshire

> Manchester Morris Men, Manchester

> Martlet Sword and Morris Men, Chichester

> Mersey Morris Men, The Wirral, Cheshire

> The Three Horseshoes Morris, Towersey, near Thame, Oxfordshire

> Trigg Morris, Bodmin, Cornwall

> Wessex Morris Men, West Dorset

> Whitchurch Morris Men, Vale of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

> Whitethorn Morris, Harrow

> Woodside Morris Men, Watford, Hertfordshire

Also in attendance:

Ed Worrell, Squire of the Morris Ring, Saddleworth Morris Men

Clayton Francis, Treasurer of the Morris Ring, East Surrey Morris Men

Pete Simpson, Squire Elect of the Morris Ring, Jockey Men’s Morris