Our Side

Who’s who in the Traditional Bampton Morris Dancers

Lawrence Adams, Squirelawrence.png

Although the Squire's father, Ken Adams was a dancer with the Traditional Bampton Morris Dancers for much of his life, Lawrence remembers getting to know Arnold Woodley toward the end of the 1960s through the "Pumpkin Club," a Bampton institution built around competitive pumpkin growing in which his dad and Arnold were stalwart participants. Following his brothers Andrew and 'Duke', Lawrence began dance training under Arnold with the boys side that Bampton was known for at the time. He first danced with the Traditional Bampton Morris Dancers on Whitsun 1973 and has been out with the side almost every year since then. For Lawrence, the reception given the side on its 1982 US Northeast tour was one of those formative experiences that meant Morris would be part of his life.

In 1989 Lawrence became the side's bagman, working closely with Arnold to organise and train the team and with the death of Arnold in 1995 he became the Squire.

Jon.pngJon Adams, Deputy Squire & Foreman

As nephew of the Squire our Bagman comes from the same family deeply rooted in the Bampton Morris. Jon's grandfather Ken was with TBMD for most of his life as a dancer and later treasurer. Jon remembers how his grandmother Bet Adams would get all the kit and flowers ready for Whitsun, and then cook for the evening teas with the guest sides. His auntie Jo Adams was one of his teachers and an excellent Morris dancer, just not of the right gender to dance in Bampton.

Jon started dancing in 1986 when Bampton still had a boys' side, which included two of his cousins and his brother. Besides auntie Jo, his teachers were his uncles 'Duke' Adams and Andrew Adams (who sadly had his Morris career cut short in 2003 at the age of 39), and, of course, our present squire. The boys' side split up a little while later (this is Bampton, after all) but in 1989 Jon joined the men's side, dancing regularly with the side for almost a decade until family ties and other interests pulled him away. But Morris dancing is in his blood and he returned to the side in 2010 with renewed enthusiasm that has rejuvenated the side, which now has a growing membership and bright outlook on the future.

Richard Broughton, BagmanBagmanRichard.jpg

Our bagman first encountered Morris dancing in the 1970s on Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh as he carried his young daughter up the hillside to see the May Day festivities and wash her face in the morning dew, as is the custom for young lassies. “Rather odd customs they have down south,” he thought to himself, never remotely suspecting that some four decades later he himself would be participating in that “odd custom” with one of its most ancient representatives.

A relative newcomer, Richard was dancing with a nearby Morris side when he was invited to join TBMD. He first danced out with the side in 2011 and still considers himself a learner in the fine points of Bampton dancing. He brings to the side a keen interest in the history of Bampton Morris dancing and of its photographic archives. His propensity for butting into organisational matters led to him being appointed bagman so he could annoy only himself.

Paul Smith, Principal MusicianPaul Smith

In the late seventies Paul was a member of Royal Alfred’s Morris Men. They were all musicians and played for ceilidhs and barn dances as ‘The Ramshackle Band.’

One evening they performed at one of our many parties. During a break we entertained the ceilidh guests to a spot of Morris sans uniform. After one particularly lively and tiring dance, Paul shouted out for ‘more.’ Joe Stephens, was a bit puffed and grabbing Paul by the arm, pulled him into the set in his place saying, ‘If you want more, you can do it yourself!’ Joe then walked quickly away and sat down to watch.

Never one to refuse a challenge Paul fudged his way through his dance before returning to the stage to play his accordion for the second half of the ceilidh. Toward the end of the evening Arnold Woodley, our then Squire & fiddler, approached Paul and quietly invited him to join the side.

When not dancing Paul stood side by side with Arnold for many happy years. Neither read music and Paul learned the tunes to all our dances by listening and copying.

After Arnold passed away Paul was the sole living repository in our side of our particular brand of Morris music. Happily our band of musicians has since grown and Paul carries on passing on the tunes to the next generation in the same way he learned them from the Master.

Barry Care, OBEBarry Care, MBE, Fool

We are very fortunate to have as our Fool a man who has devoted much of his life to Morris dancing, along with other English musical and cultural traditions, notably his other passion—bell ringing. Founder and Foreman (for the first 40 years) of the renowned Moulton Morris Men, Barry has always aimed for the highest of Morris performance standards, which often means his Fool's bladder is aimed at one of us.

Barry and his wife were close friends of Arnold and Wyn Woodley, and the story of how he came to be associated with the Traditional Bampton Morris Dancers is told in Barry's obituary of Arnold (below). Barry has been turning out with TBMD every Spring Bank Holiday since 1982 and since 1990 he has donned his clown costume to be our Fool. Two of Barry's grandsons, Robert and Andrew also dance in the side.

At the national level Barry has been involved with The Morris Ring for many decades, having served in the top position of Squire of The Ring from 1982-4. He was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty The Queen in 2004 for his long-time service to his beloved village of Moulton, including his unflagging support for the traditions and customs that can grace English village life.

Traditional Bampton Morris Dancers for Whitsun 2018

Traditional Bampton Morris Dancers 2018

From left to right standing, Richard Broughton, Steve Coad, Stuart Fisher, Jon Adams, Peter Smith, John Wright, Geoff Coad, Nick Locke, Paul Smith, Lawrence Adams, Andrew Adams. Kneeling: John Corlett, Josh Smith, Peter (of BRMM), Paul Fowler. Reclining: Barry Care.

In Memoriam

Arnold WoodleyArnold__Brendan_Cassidy.jpg

1925 - 1995

Arnold followed his brother and two uncles into the older Tanner Bampton side in 1938, though he had been attending practices far earlier. Following the war, Arnold, along with Francis Shergold and the famous Jinky Wells worked together to restore Morris dancing to Bampton, but in 1950 Arnold reconstituted the Traditional (Tanner) side and thus became the founder of the side as we know it today.

Though largely self-taught on the fiddle Arnold became the side's musician and went on to be recognised as an outstanding fiddler in the English folk tradition. Arnold worked tirelessly to preserve the Bampton dance tradition as handed down to him by his forebears and over the decades he taught countless young men how to dance Bampton 'properly'. Over the years Arnold had to contend with serious illness, both his and that of his dear wife, but he always came back to his Morris side leaving us with an enduring legacy of the Bampton Morris.

PE60.jpgSonner Townsend

1914 - 2008

Although Sonner had family connections with the Bampton Morris, including his grandfather who was a dancer, his real introduction to the tradition came by virtue of being the son of the landlord and landlady of the local pub in which the Bampton Morris men gathered for practice and which served as the base for Whitsun dances. His first dance out was in 1925 when he had to fill in for one of the Tanner brothers who was unwell and he continued to dance with the side until the war.

When Arnold Woodley reconstituted the side they had both been in Sonner became the Fool and also took a role in teaching the dances to the new lads. As the Fool during the dancing he would keep them on their toes (or correct feet) with the occasional whack with his bladder. He loved the part of the Fool's job that had him greeting old friends and meeting new ones while the side danced away, and that enjoyment kept him going until well into his eighties. Sonner was a fine dancer, and a good teacher, and one of those lessons was just how important the Fool is to the Morris tradition.

Next Appearance

We won't be out much, if at all, during the winter. Chances are our next appearance will be on Whit Monday, 27 May 2024, but if anything comes up before we'll post it here.

Dance with TBMD?

In times past when towns and villages were more isolated and independent, many, if not most, traditional Morris sides drew their dancers only from the local community. So it was with Bampton for much of its history, but the Traditional Bampton Morris Dancers have had a tradition of incorporating dancers from other sides as circumstances permitted. If you have Morris experience, live sufficiently close to Bampton to be able to participate in practices and dance outs, and would like to join in our ancient Morris tradition, please use this form to contact our Squire.

If you are local to the Bampton area but have no prior Morris experience, please use this form to contact our Foreman to see about our basic training sessions that can lead to becoming a member of the side.

Contact us

If you are interested in booking us, or just have questions about our side or tradition, please get in touch and we shall do our best to get back to you as soon as possible.

We have stopped using a contact form because of the prevalence of robots making our lives miserable and we don't like re-captcha's that make your life miserable. So, to contact The Traditional Bampton Morris Dancers, please use the following email address.