We're Stone the Crows Border Morris from Leyland.
Here's the list of our dances
Ashpole (8) - originally danced by The Ironmen Morris, obtained from the Witchmen and modified
Black Widow (6) - originally danced by Rogue Morris, obtained from Ribble Rabble Morris (now defunct)
Crow’s Nest (8) - developed by Stone the Crows based on an idea by Murray Riggs
Cuckoo’s Nest (2+) - from Madcap Morris
Haccombe (4) - from Grimspound Border Morris
Loxley Barratt (6) - there is some controversy where this originated from, some say from Powderkegs Morris and others say that the dance pre-dates Powderkegs
Mr Benn (4) - from Ribble Rabble Morris (now defunct)
Much Wenlock (2+) - traditional
Odd Sheepskins (6) - written by Chris Broan of Stone the Crows
Ratty (6) - written by Vicky Lindsay of Stone the Crows
Ragged Crow (4) - from Clerical Error Morris
Skirmish (6) - modified version of an Adderbury dance from the Cotswold tradition
STC (8) - written by Sharon Nolan of Stone the Crows
Sod Hall (4) - written by Murray Riggs of Stone the Crows
Tinners’ Rabbit (3) - from Grimspound Border Morris, adapted for audience participation and spread far and wide by Stone the Crows
Twiglet (5) - from Clerical Error Morris Dancers
Upton on Severn Stick (6) - traditional
Upton Snodsbury (3) - traditional
White Ladies Aston (8) - traditional
Woodhouse Bog (8) - originally written by The Ironmen Morris, obtained from Kern Morris, then modified
Worcester Hey (6) - from Rogue Morris (now defunct)
Worcestershire Monkey (8) - originally written by Fox Morris, taught to us by Wicket Brood
Winter Solstice at Brockholes, 21st Dec 2018
It has started to become a bit of a midwinter tradition for Stone the Crows to be invited to dance the sun down at the stone circle at Brockholes Nature reserve near Preston. As in previous years, the weather was cold and very damp, although the rain held off until the very end of the dance spot. We met just after 3pm in order to get some dances in before the sun set and were very pleased to have a large crowd of people, despite the weather. This winter solstice was deemed special, as explained by John Lamb of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, who invited and introduced us, there was also a Full Moon this Winter Solstice, as well as the moon rising as the sun was setting, which also happened in 2010 but won’t be seen again until 2094. Sadly, the clouds, rain, drizzle and murk meant that we could not see either the sun setting nor the moon rising at the same time.
We managed a few of the usual dances, avoiding getting too muddy. Our one musician, Julie, cleverly kept her melodeon in a plastic bag, playing it by sticking her hands inside both ends to keep it dry. A number of the crowd also joined in with the music, banging drums and tambourines and we were also accompanied by some beautiful music on an ocarina, played by a young man called Alfred.
At sunset we decided to get everyone doing a mass Tinner’s Rabbit and to our delight a lot of our audience joined in with enthusiasm and gusto. When we were finished we were treated to a couple of traditional carols from a beautiful singer called Phil. All in all we managed to banish the winter with our music, dancing and our usual enthusiasm. All that was missing was the mulled wine.
Mummers Play, 14th Dec 2018
The mighty Stone the Crows mummers players embarked on yet another world tour of Chorley on Friday 14th December, a week earlier than usual, to avoid the clash with the winter solstice. Unlike many others years when the courageous band have trekked through the snow and ice to perform in various pubs, the weather was milder than usual. The first port of call was the Lock and Quay, where, much to the bemusement of the locals, the play began. The first half contained the usual suspects – Father Christmas, Slasher (Dave), the Doctor (Kathy), the Miser (Cat) and, of course, our hero, St George, this year played by Clare. The second half contained the more topical elements – Donald Trump (Adie), Arlene Foster (Linda), Frackman (Pete), and three different Brexit secretaries (various members of the cast) with Theresa May (a mask stuck to a broomstick) being jiggled about by various volunteers. To finish, there was Carole, Anne and Jean, as a fantastic trio of red devils.
In the first pub Clare’s mum was in charge of Theresa May, but she didn’t quite get the message to only jiggle her around when Linda, as Arlene Foster made an appearance, so Theresa May bopped up and down on her stick throughout most of the performance. One group in particular seemed to enjoy it, however being very drunk, they hadn’t a clue what was going on and assumed Cat as the miser was a Martian, Pete was a dustbin man and Linda, as Arlene Foster was firstly Miss Preston (due to the orange sash) and then Margaret Thatcher.
We hot-heeled it to the next pub, the Red Lion, where an enthusiastic crowd were eagerly awaiting us (always a surprise) and the performance went down very well, in this location with George as prompt and Theresa May broomstick jiggler.
Finally, we headed to the Top Lock, where some of the other Crows were awaiting our grand finale. The regular entertainer at the pub (whose name escapes me) excitedly decided to Live Stream us to hundreds of people around the world (poor people) so thankfully the final performance went well. We finished off the night with lots of chips and nan breads and a promise to repeat the process once more next year and the happy bunch of thespians departed homewards.
Croston Christmas Fair, 9th Dec 2018
Croston Christmas Fair is an event that Stone the Crows and Newburgh Morris are invited to dance at every year. This year was a bit different, as from 12 noon onwards all the roads through the village were closed, so that we could also dance in the middle of the road if we chose to. We parked at the other side of the village than we normally do and met in a nearby pub, The Grapes. However, not long after arriving, all the electricity and power went off at that side of the village and stayed that way all day, with the poor market stall holders in those venues having to sell by torchlight or candlelight. We drank our first drinks in the darkness of an unlit pub.
We started our dancing in the Grapes car park, which was fun, despite not having an audience to speak of and also nearly being knocked down like skittles during Ashpole by an elderly man determined to enter the car park even though it was closed. Determined to not allow the dancers to be squashed or killed, Linda decided to stand in front of the car, even as he kept pushing forward. He gave up eventually and reversed out, all caught on camera by Caroline.
Luckily for us the weather was dry, although quite cold. We proceeded to the village green where we danced among the many thongs of people who had come to the fair, then we danced in the road and back at the village green. At one point, one onlooker, overhearing someone commenting about the cold, said “Look at you, you have coats and hats and you complain about the cold. Look at them (pointing at Newburgh, dancing in just white blouses and skirts) – they’re the hardcore ones.”
Dancing over, as is the habit of Crows, we took the miniature train back to our cars, waving regally to all passers-by. Another good day came to an end. Thanks to Newburgh for their ongoing support.
Lytham St Anne’s (the town with the Pier, not the Windmill), 1st Dec 2018
Stone the Crows were kindly invited to dance for charity in the coastal town of St Anne’s, at the fundraising Victorian Market Day, an event which is only in its third year but is getting stronger and busier each year with more and more businesses becoming involved.
We had a fine turn out of Crows, meeting in the very hospitable Victorian Vanilla Tearooms. We were in an aptly named town for our newest recruit Anne Rustidge to perform her first official dance out. Everyone agreed Anne did very well and she looked smart in her new tatters.
The weather was wet and damp and a sea mist lay on the horizon as a reminder that there was more rain to come, but as the weather has never been a deterrent to us dancing folk, between heavy showers, Stone the Crows danced as enthusiastically and energetically as ever.
The town was milling with Christmas shoppers, and wherever we danced, we had a good and appreciative audience. Familiar faces were seen in the crowds and it was good to see Murray and Beth and friends, who came over to say hello.
At lunchtime everyone departed to Wetherspoons for lunch and an opportunity to dry out a little.
Jean and Anne ate their sandwiches al fresco and joined in a live stream interview which was going global. Between chewing and speaking, Jean explained to the world about Morris dancing, who Stone the Crows were and what we were doing in St Anne’s. A viewer from Chicago insisted on knowing what Jean had on her sandwich, and just before she choked, she was able to tell them it was Tuna and sweetcorn.
After lunch, the weather was a little more settled for about an hour, and we were able to literally pick up sticks and enjoy the day once more. The musicians coped very well with the damp and found a smidgen of shelter under the promenade canopy, true professionals. Thank you to Anthony, Chris and Linda who took care of every potential hiccup including sorting out locations. And thank you to our lady host and guide, dressed in her traditional Victorian dress, guiding us around the town.
Everyone agreed it was a fun day. We had some lovely feedback “St Anne’s salutes you Stone the Crows”, indicating our presence enhanced the event and was greatly appreciated by the organisers.
The day ended right on time, when the rain truly arrived with a heavy downpour at 3pm and the dark, but seasonal sea mist arrived in the town. Well done once again Stone the Crows Border Morris Team.
Children in Need fundraiser, Southport, 17th Nov 2018
In aid of a very worthy cause, and to support our very good friends, Newburgh Morris, the Crows went to Southport in order to raise money for Children in Need. Along with other friends, Crown Rapper, Fylde Morris and Singleton Cloggers we spent the day dancing outside of M&S to a very appreciative, if somewhat bemused, shopping crowd. Our dancing started with a mass Tinner’s Rabbit with some students dressed in costume, also raising money for Children in Need. The day went really well, despite the cold. For a change we weren’t the most weirdest people in the town. At one point a man dressed as a bush came up to us and accused one of our dancers of not being a bush and then walked away, much to the amusement of other Crows present.
We enjoyed the dancing so much we were the last to finish and even carried on when Chris, our foreman, decided to teach a dance to a bunch of very keen children. Possible future Crows?
Newburgh Morris managed to raise over £400 over the day, so well done to them and to all the dancers.
Roughlee Halloween & Scarecrow Festival, 28th Oct 2018
Crows met Scarecrows and drank the dark witches brew under the afternoon darkening skies.
Pendle Witch at Sabden, 27th Oct 2018
It was a cold, cold evening when the crows danced, and the witches flew, while the air was filled with the sounds of halloween games and spooky noises.
Reenactment at Ye Olde Man & Scythe, Bolton, 17th Oct 2018
It’s not every day that you get an offer to dance at a beheading. Not just any beheading, but in this case the Earl of Derby’s beheading. And outside a pub, too!
Actually, the occasion was to mark the anniversary of the beheading on the on the 15 October 1651 at the market cross in Churchgate, Bolton, near Ye Olde Man and Scythe pub. Apparently James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby, took part in the Bolton massacre, but was actually executed for treason after defeat with King Charles II in the Battle of Worcester. Seems Cromwell didn’t look too kindly on his application for a pardon. It appears that the Man and Scythe belonged to his family, so after a convivial evening of flagons of cider, he was taken outside and separated from his head. I guess it’s an effective way to prevent a hangover…
So ... oh yes, the dancing … A good turnout (real ale was available!) Dancing (and melodeon playing) was shared with the Horwich Prize Morris Men, then, at what we thought was an appropriate time for a beer, left the ‘arena’ for the Civil War re-enactment gang to carry out the messy bit of the event and behead someone.
Beer was drunk, we went home to contemplate hangover cures. Though none quite as drastic as the Earl of Derby’s.
Rivington Morris Day of Dance in Bolton, 13th Oct 2018
On a very windy day in October, the Crows descended on Bolton to join in with Rivington’s day of dance, along with Horwich Prize Medal Morris Men and Persephone Women's North West Morris. We spent most of the day in the town hall square, holding onto our hats and dancing with gusto. When we went to perform in the indoor market, was where we met one of our biggest fans, Alan, who runs Nkono, the Jamaican food stall. He had apparently been waiting all day to dance with us, so, of course, we had to dance a Tinners' Rabbit with him. He wrote about us in his Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/joblijob16
It was also a good day for one of our newest members, Anne, who only joined us in September, as she was loaned a hat and tatters so she could dance for the first time in public with us – and she did very well.
As usual, lunch time was a highlight for hungry and thirsty Crows, some of whom went to try the delicious vegan menu at The Kitchen co-op café, whilst others went to wet their whistles (and other instruments) at the oldest pub in Bolton – and one of the oldest in the country – Ye Olde Old Man & Scythe.
Dancing outside the Market Hall was fun, despite the difficulty of dancing on cobbles, particularly for the clog wearers! The day ended back in the town hall square dancing outside the Town Hall, with a very appreciative audience sitting on the steps, including the stone lions who watched on with amusement as all the Morris dancers rounded off the day with excellent performances, despite the blustery gusts trying to blow off hats, feathers and anything else not properly tied down. Thanks to Rivington Morris for a great day.
The Hollins Conservation Group’s ‘Go Wild Day’ in Bury, 23rd Sep 2018
A family fun day out, that had lots of activities and was raising money for conservation - the Crows had a great time. The weather was kind to us as the sun shone right up until the point when we stopped dancing, when the heavens opened. We think that the message there is … never stop dancing! We didn’t let this dampen our spirits though, as we all retired inside to look around the mix of stalls and have a try on the tombola - which is becoming a bit of a habit!
31st York Festival of Traditional Dance, 8th Sept 2018
We were guests of Ebor Morris for the Saturday of their annual dance weekend. The day was somewhat wet but the sides danced on (mostly). We started with our processional dance from St Helen's Square along Davygate to Parliament Street. We then danced in various spots around York city centre with the multitude of other sides who joined Ebor Morris for what was a damp but highly enjoyable day.
Moulton Crow Fair, 14th July 2018
On Saturday 14th July we were proud to join the long-established Moulton Crow Men at their annual Crow Fair in Cheshire. As the Calendar Customs web site says:
The Crow Fair, held every July at Moulton in Cheshire, includes a dance which is unique to the event. With its origins dating back to the Depression of the 1920s and 1930s, when local unemployed men first performed the dance incognito as a way of raising money before the days of the Welfare State, the dancers are completely unrecognisable in their crow costumes and even today the identities of the dancers are a closely guarded secret. The dance also features a Scare Crow character, and scarecrows decorate the village for the event. As well as the Crow Dance there is a host of other activities and events and plenty of stalls, music and entertainments; it's a real family event.
Ilkley with 400 Roses Belly Dancers, 23rd June 2018
This Saturday saw up flying off to Ilkley for a full day dancing hosted by the unique 400 Roses Belly Dancers, and also joined by Saddleworth Clog & Garland. We started off at the Bandstand with a very appreciative audience and we all had a go at belly dancing with 400 Roses. Then a tour around Ilkley, some nice cool beers for lunch, and a lovely final spot at the Riverside. And we kept our hats on so we wouldn’t catch our death of cold, obviously. Smashing day out.
Midsummer dance out at Croston, 21st June 2018
On Thursday 21st June, Stone the Crows had a lovely evening dancing on the longest day. We danced at the Lord Nelson pub in Croston from 19:30 until late, joined by the schoolchildren of Trinity & St Michael’s Primary School in Croston, Rivington Morris, Royal Preston Morris, Newburgh Morris, Fylde Coast Cloggers and Amounderness Ladies Morris. The evening was warm and the company was warmer.
Preston People’s Festival, 16th June 2018
Stone the Crows performed at Preston People’s Festival. Well done to the organisers and all who took part in the event, especially during the torrential downpours. We, the Crows, were lucky in that respect – the rain had mostly eased off when we danced in front of The Black Horse pub, which was enjoyed by ourselves and the audience. Then it was up to the Flag Market for a free drink and chat to everyone. Altogether an enjoyable day despite the weather.
Pendle Witch Fayre, 28th May 2018
On Bank Holiday Monday 28th May, the Crows were invited to perform for the Pendle Witch pub fayre alongside a talented singing duo and the Gypsy Dancers. The weather was incredibly hot so we had to sample the cool beers on offer. We danced two sets always starting with our signature dance, Ragged Crow. Some of the Crows were showing off their strength and managed to break a couple of our sticks with their enthusiastic dancing! We finished with a group Tinners Rabbit and got lots of the crowd participating, including the landlord, Jim. We hope the day was a success for him and his pub!
Cuerden Valley Country Park, 19th May 2018
On one of the hottest days on record for May, the Crows descended on Cuerden Valley Country Park, to perform at their annual carnival. There were stalls as diverse as Lancashire Wildlife Trust, sword fighting, vegan food and tombolas, the latter exciting many members of the side, particularly our secretary, Clare, who has a very penchant for tombolas and seeks them out wherever we go. Dancing was good, despite the heat, and we did two very successful sets, both culminating in a Tinners Rabbit. We danced both sets outside the St John’s ambulance tent, who were luckily not needed to deal with dehydrated or injured crows, but who were happy to participate in our massed dance, which they apparently they always do when they are somewhere we are dancing. It was all round a very good day and Linda came away with a strawberry plant, a wild garlic plant and a tombola prize, but that was only because it was win a prize every time.
Upton upon Severn Folk Festival, 5th-7th May 2018
All the Crows are back safe in their nests from what was a wonderful weekend, as score upon score of Morris (and other) dancers and musicians filled the streets and pubs of Upton upon Severn at their Annual Folk Festival on the May Day weekend with music, dance and sheer enjoyment. A massive hats off and thanks to the organisers and all the volunteers who made the festival so much fun for everyone, performers and audiences alike. If you’ve seen any of the many styles of Morris dancing and enjoyed it why not contact your local side about having a go, you won’t regret it. We Crows dance in the border style of Morris and will be having fun performing most Thursday evenings throughout the summer at various pubs around Lancashire and at other events so come along, have a fun evening, have a chat to us – we’re a friendly bunch and always happy to help with anything you’d like to know.
Dance up the Sun, 1st May 2018
4.30am on 1st May found us rising much earlier than usual to head off to Bolton to dance the sun up to our signature dance ‘Ragged Crow’ on May Day morning. We were very lucky and despite the almost freezing temperatures the sky was clear and the sunrise was spectacular. A few hardy souls came to watch us and we were almost joined by some bemused cyclists who were up and about surprisingly early. Once dancing, we soon warmed up and danced the sun high above the horizon. We then retired to eat a hearty breakfast at a nearby Crow’s nest.
Amounderness day of dance, 28th April 2018
Amounderness Ladies Morris presented a free Day of Dance in Chorley on Saturday 28th April and Stone the Crows Border Morris were kindly invited to take part. It was a sunny, if cold, day and the Crows flocked to Chorley in good number. We shared our dance spots with the energetic Powderkegs Morris which ended with a joint ‘Worcester Monkey’ dance to end our set. We also danced alongside the the amazing Flash Company, 400 Roses belly dancers, and Fylde Coast Cloggers. It was a very enjoyable day and the beer flowed as we sampled some home-cooked Turkish wraps. We look forward to dancing out with them again next year.
Border Teams congregate in Ledbury, 15th April 2018
Invited by Silurian Morris to their annual gathering of border morris teams in Ledbury, Herefordshire, we travelled in style by coach. All teams showed off a dance under the roof of the Market House, then teams dispersed around the town for more dancing. At tea time we were all back at the Market House for a final fling, where we were very grateful of the roof (as the weather was a tiny bit inclement). Other teams there were: Bakanalia, Beorma, Beltane, Domesday, Ledbury and Styx of Stroud. A great day, thank you Silurian for inviting us.
Two 50th birthdays on Good Friday, 30th March 2018
Crows were hosted by John O’Gaunt Morris in Lancaster on their annual coach tour on Good Friday, with guests Southport Swords and Yon Lot (cloggers).
The weather was good, and in the morning we danced in Milnthorpe market square and bought goodies from the farmers’ market stalls (amazing olives), then repaired to the Malt Shovel in Warton for a great lunch (amazing chips) and not one, but two, birthday cakes (amazing cakes) to celebrate John O’Gaunt Morris and Southport Swords both being 50 years old this year.
It was the first outing for our new animal mascot (amazingly large crow) which was much admired.
In the afternoon we danced in Arnside opposite the pier before heading back for an evening social at the Lansil in Lancaster.
Here's the list of our dances
Ashpole (8) - originally danced by The Ironmen Morris, obtained from the Witch[...]