The Origins of Spring Grove Morris
 
 
Spring Grove Morris Men formed in the Summer of 1977 for a one-off performance at "An Evening of Love" organised by the Spring Grove Residents' Association in the Parish Hall of St John the Evangelist, Spring Grove, Kingston on 17th September 1977.
 

A Evening of Love 1977-09-17

 
Mike Charlton, a resident of Spring Grove, approached Richard "Gus" Guscott who had danced and played melodeon previously with Wheatsheaf Morris Men of Forest Hill in South-East London, with the idea of getting six local men to dance at a local residents association entertainment. Six men were press-ganged into action, started practising in July and performed in September as witnessed by Steve Nash.  Four men enjoyed the dance and decided to continue the newly formed side adopting the name Spring Grove Morris Men in late September 1977 with Gus as teacher and mentor.  Gus first taught two dances from the Bidford tradition and a Bampton dance that he had learnt while dancing with Wheatsheaf.

New men joined and a nucleus of regular dancers widened their knowledge of Cotswold traditions by close association with Cyril Smith of Thames Valley Morris Men who were based at the Foley Arms in Claygate, Surrey. Numbers grew as men from St Mary's in Ewell joined in practices with Spring Grove and Thames Valley before forming their own side based in Ewell during the early 1980s.

After honing their skill for 7 years Spring Grove Morris proudly danced into The Morris Ring at the Thaxted Ring Meeting in 1984.
 

Years 1978-1989

 
The side has danced regularly with other local sides, at Meetings of the Morris Ring, on cable TV and on overseas tours.
 
 
Our Distinctive Kit
 
The kit chosen was:
- White shirt, white trousers, and a neckerchief of any colour,
- Black belt, shoes & socks,
- Crossed baldricks of 2 inch green with a central 1 inch yellow stripe,
- Rosettes on front and back showing a small grove of trees with a spring flowing from them (see the top of the page),
- Bell pads with green and yellow ribbons,
- Straw hat decorated with a green and yellow band around the hat, yellow and green ribbons at the back, badges and flowers.
 
In that first year, Gus borrowed the Wheatsheaf Boys baldrics to dance in.  We copied their green and red with our green and yellow, and replaced the wheatsheaf badge with the spring grove badge.  It is interesting to note that green and yellow colours have had Morris connections since Morris was first recorded in Kingston [1][2][3] where performers used green and yellow baldrics, and to royal courts entertainments [4] where participants wore baldrics of yellow and green and is described as "traditional fool's motley".  The English Fools Dance is thought to be one of the older English Traditions that led to the Morris Dance [5].
 
[1] Kingston Parish Churchwarden's Records of 1507 records costs for costume for the Kyngham or King's Games pageant that included Robin Hood and Morris Dancing.
[2] Robin Hood first appears at Kingston in 1508,....green and yellow baldrics carried the standard of St. George painted in yellow and green. ...His subjects also wear wanton green and yellow liveries.  Robin Hood in the Light of History  Journal of the EFDSS Vol 7, No 4 Dec 1995.
[3] John Brand's Observations on the Popular Antiquities of Great Britain: Chiefly Illustrating The Origin of Our Vulgar and Provincial Customs, Ceremonies and Superstitions, [Arranged, revised and greatly enlarged by Sir Henry Ellis], George Bell and Sons, London: 1908, vol. 1, pp. 212-270 (Original ed. 1813).
[4] The Boy Who Would Be King: Court Revels of King Edward VI, 1547-1553 Journal article by Suzanne Westfall; Comparative Drama, Vol. 35, 2001.
[5] Roy Dommett "What was Morris?", The [Morris Ring] Circular, February 1994, 23, page 3. (quoting Young "History of British Music", 1967).