wytchwoodmorris news

Sabbatical
07th June 2017
It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce that Wytchwood Morris are taking a sabbatical. Wytchwood would have had their 7th anniversary in October this year. Two of our dancers have stepped down and this has left the side vulnerable and the decision has been taken to take a break.
I'd like to thank all our members, both past and present, for their hard work and dedication and for enduring the pressures associated with being members of such a small side.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us in the past. Thank you to everyone who has danced with us and invited us to join them for celebrations. We have established some very close friendships over the years, which I hope we can maintain. Several of our members dance and play with other sides too, and I'm sure we will all be around Morris, but just not collectively as Wytchwood for awhile.
Best wishes to everyone
Sarah
Squire Wytchwood Morris
STILL ON THE LOOK OUT FOR MORE MUSICIANS!
12th April 2015
Wytchwood are still on the look out for more musicians to join are small but perfectly formed band!

We are looking for all kinds of musicians but especially those who can play fiddle , drums, accordion, whistle , guitar or Melodeon and able to travel to events around the country.

Wytchwood are a diverse side dancing an array of traditional and modern self penned dances from the Welsh Border, Molly and Cotswold styles of dance. We are innovative, dynamic and forward thinking while also trying to keep the traditional art of Morris alive. We welcome new ideas and input from both dancers and musicians try to create great performances for the public and other Morris sides. We work hard but have great fun and love socialising at Days of Dance and Folk Festivals, as well as supporting local events.

If you want to know more or come along to meet us then contact our Squire Steve via the Contact page of the website.

We look forward to meeting you!


WYTCHWOOD MORRIS IN ARTWORK
12th March 2015
Wytchwood dancers have been captured in a beautiful piece of contemporary Artwork by Artist and fellow Morris Dancer Mark Kelly.

Mark dances for The Ironmen & Severn Gilders Morris and in his spare time creates amazing Morris inspired Artwork. You can see more of his Morris and dance inspired work on his Deviant Art gallery page here: http://yggdryad.deviantart.com/gallery/














WHO PUT BELLA IN THE WYCH ELM? - Our new dance
01st March 2015


WHO PUT BELLA IN THE WYCH ELM?

Wytchwood have began practicing their new self penned dance called 'Bella' which is all about a local unsolved Mystery from Hagley Woods, Worcestershire.

THE MYSTERY :

In 1943 some young boys out poaching came across what turned out to be a female skeleton inside an old Wych Elm tree near Wychbury Hill, Stourbridge.
The body was sent for forensic examination by Prof. James Webster. He quickly established that the skeleton was female and had been dead for at least 18 months, placing time of death around October 1941. He found taffeta in her mouth, suggesting that she had died from asphyxiation. From the measurement of the trunk he also deduced that she must have been placed there "still warm" after the killing, as she could not have fit once rigor mortis had taken hold

Despite a large investigation the murder remains unsolved and the identity of the woman is still a mystery. However,In 1944 the first graffito message related to the mystery appeared on a wall in Upper Dean Street, Birmingham, reading "Who put Bella down the Wych Elm - Hagley Wood" suggesting that someone may at least have known the woman's name.



The graffito was last sprayed onto the side of a 200 year-old obelisk on 18 August 1999, in white paint.





Some have attributed the murder to Witchcraft rituals but the present theory is that 'Bella' might have been a German Spy who was parachuted into the area and then disposed of - but no one knows for certain. You can read more about the mystery here:

Who put Bella in the Wych elm?




Is this the face of 'Bella' ?


THE DANCE:

The dance for Bella has been co-written by the whole side and the music has been written by our talented head musician Ian Chamberlain.
The dance is a Border dance for 7 people - 6 dancers form a wide circle representing the tree with 'Bella' in the middle trying to get out. The figures of the dance will represent her attempts to 'break free' of the tree with the branches eventually closing in to seal her fate at the end.

We are hoping to practice hard over the next couple of months and should have the dance ready for it's first appearance in May. We're all very excited!



The mystery of Bella is covered in the book Worcestershire Folk Tales by David Phelps or there are plenty of article on the internet to be found via Google.
WYTCHWOOD DOLL GOES OFF TO THE MUSEUM OF BRITISH FOLKLORE
16th January 2015


Wytchwood have taken part in a unique display of Morris Dolls organised by The Museum of British Folkore.

"Morris Folk

Story posted on September 21, 2013

The museum has launched a new initiative to represent the wide variety of Morris sides within the UK. Any teams wishing to take part will be sent a blank figure to decorate with their team kit. The idea being that over time, the collection will grow into an original and unique visual record created by the people who participate in the dance."











Wytchwood's Doll (named Bella) was completed by some of the female members of the side one evening over tea, cake and plenty of chocolate while the men were sent out to the pub!

We hope Bella will enjoy herself in her new home and delight visitors for years to come.







Read more about the story on the Museum of British Folk's Website :

British Folk Museum




WYCTHWOOD'S 3RD ANNUAL WASSAIL A COMMUNITY SUCCESS
10th January 2015




Wytchwood Morris hosted their 3rd Annual Wassail on Saturday January 10th 2015 in Bewdley Museum Gardens , Worcestershire.

In the weeks running up to the Wassail some of the Side visited local Schools and held workshops for children, teaching them 2 simple dances and our own Wassail song to perform at the Wassail ceremony.






What is Wassailing?

Wassailing is becoming increasingly popular again in England as a way of throwing off those January Blues.
In the cider-producing counties in the South West of England (primarily Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire) or South East England (Kent, Sussex, Essex and Suffolk) wassailing refers to a traditional ceremony that involves singing and drinking the health of trees on or around Twelfth Night in the hopes that they might better thrive. The purpose of wassailing is to awaken the cider apple trees and to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the Autumn.
A folktale from Somerset reflecting this custom tells of the "Apple Tree Man", the spirit of the oldest apple tree in an orchard, and in whom the fertility of the orchard is said to reside. In the tale a man offers his last mug of mulled cider to the trees in his orchard and is rewarded by the Apple Tree Man who reveals to him the location of buried treasure.



The word 'Wassail' (Old Norse "ves heil", Old English was hál, literally 'be you healthy') refers both to the salute 'Waes Hail' and to the drink of wassail, a hot mulled cider traditionally drunk as an integral part of wassailing, a medieval southern English drinking ritual intended to ensure a good cider apple harvest the following year. The phrase found first use as a simple greeting, but the Danish-speaking inhabitants of England seem to have turned "was hail", and the reply "drink hail", into a drinking formula adopted widely by the indigenous population of England

A Traditional Wassail poem:

Old apple tree, we wassail thee,
And hoping thou wilt bear
For the Lord doth know where we shall be
Till apples come another year.

For to bear well, and to bear well
So merry let us be.
Let every man take off his hat,
And shout to the old apple tree!
Old apple tree, we wassail thee,
And hoping thou wilt bear
Hatfuls, capfuls, three bushel bagfuls
And a little heap under the stairs

Hip! Hip! Horray!



A Traditional Gloucester Wassail Song :

"Wassail! wassail! all over the town,
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown;
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree;
With the wassailing bowl, we'll drink to thee"





Wytchwood were joined by guest sides The Ironmen & Severn Gilders Morris, Step on Board Appalachian Step Dance Team , Old Meg Morris and Belly Fusion Dance Collective who performed around the Museum before joining with locals and the community choir for a torch lit procession along the river front and along the high street and back to the orchard garden where Wytchwood led the traditional Wassailing ceremony.
The ceremony included songs, poems, blessing of the Apple trees with cider and hanging bread as offerings in the branches. Then the Wassail bowl was passed around the audience filled with cider while more songs were sung by the choir. Finally everyone made lots of noise by shouting and banging sticks to scare the Evil spirits away and 'wake up' the Apple trees from their Winter slumber.



For full photos of the day visit our Flickr page:

WYTCHWOOD WASSAIL IN PICTURES

Here are the news clippings from the Local paper that week:









CALLING ALL FOLK MUSICIANS!
14th October 2014
Wytchwood are looking for more talented Musicians to join their small but perfectly formed band. We are particularly interested in anyone who can play more than one instrument, but also need another fiddle player, a Bodhran player and a box player......but anything considered! Please get in touch through our contact page for more info.

CALLING ALL YOUNG (ish) , FIT MEN!
13th October 2014
CALLING ALL FIT, YOUNG MALE DANCERS!!


Where have all the young men gone? It seems that around here they have all gone to Cotswold!


We seem to be in a Border Morris Man desert here in South Worcestershire but the lovely Wytches of Wytchwood would like some fit, young men to dance with or we'll soon be forced to start wearing false beards and go 'Grrrrrr' a lot......which can give you a sore throat .
If your young (ish) , Male (definitely) and like bashing big sticks and going 'Grrrrrrr' a lot then please drop us a line!......we can offer you lots of female company, lots of opportunities to reside near pubs and travel round some pretty cool Folk Festivals What's not to like? Please save us from itchy ginger beards and beer bellies!

WYTCHWOOD ARE LOOKING FOR NEW DANCERS!
06th September 2014
Wytchwood are looking to recruit new dancers! If you fancy taking up Morris Dancing you will get fit, make new friends and travel the country!

We are about to move into the Autumn/Winter months where we don't dance out so much but spend our time practicing new and old dances ready for the next season. This is a great time to join us......by next Spring you could be dancing out at Folk Festivals and days of dance around the country and having some great fun with us!




You don't have to have danced Morris before , we can teach you the steps, and although a moderate to good level of fitness is desirable you will soon get fitter as you learn the dances!

We are especially looking for more men but everyone is welcome to come along for a taster session and see what you think. See our FACEBOOK PAGE for all our events and workshops





if you'd like to know more then please contact our Squire at squire@wytchwoodmorris.co.uk
WYTCHES MEET THE BO DIDDLERS!
25th August 2014


Some Wytches had the honour to meet members of the spoof Morris side The Bo Diddlers after their superb performance at Shrewsbury Folk Festival this year.

The Bo Diddlers are a group of professional dancers who have developed a dance show which brings Morris Dancing and side splitting comedy together. Visit their website here:

http://www.thebodiddlers.co.uk/