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For the last few years, in the middle of July we have been guests of Ravensbourne Morris. They are a very versatile side who, as well as dancing out Cotswold in summer, they perform a Mummers Play in mid winter and go Wassailing in early January.
There is a very interesting page on the Ravensbourne website that explains the history and meaning of Wassailing and how they revived the tradition. Apparently, the ceremony involves throwing salt over an apple tree, then placing bread (which has been dipped in cider) on the tree. They then sing the song made famous by Rod Stewart — "I'm Wassailing, I'm Wassailing, Throwing salt, Across the tree.".
The weather is not always kind for our annual meet-up with Ravensbourne but this year we were blessed with pleasantly warm and dry conditions. As usual, the first venue was The Blacksmith’s Arms in Cudham which always has a brilliant display of flowers, and this year was no exception. The two sides took turns to perform and we had time for three dances, namely Presidcot, Annie's and Marston.
Then it was time to drive almost two miles north to Downe. The village is in the Darwin ward of Bromley Council, named presumably after the area's most famous resident, Charles Darwin. He was a brilliant naturalist, geologist, and biologist who was responsible for many scientific articles and books. His final publication was entitled The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms, a truly ground-breaking piece of research. 😉
As usual, we congregated around the tree at the main junction in the village, and, bang on time, the local bus arrived. Due to space restrictions, at this location we have to dance in the road and nearly all passing cars are happy to wait until the end of the dance before proceeding. After all, they get a free show of traditional dancing! However, we had just started KBC Processional when a particularly impatient driver decided to overtake the set mid-dance. This was rather a dangerous manoeuvre but luckily no-one came to harm. Our other dances, Celebration and Shawforth, passed off without incident.
The evening concluded (in almost pitch darkness) with a combined performance of Bonny Green Garters. Many thanks go to Ravensbourne for inviting us down to Downe!
Kettle Bridge Clogs web site by Stephen Cordery is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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