News Stories

We're Stone the Crows Border Morris from Leyland.

STC have been going for 30 years! 18th May 2024

This was the speech made by Simon Wood, current Squire of Stone the Crows Border Morris, at the end of our Day of Dance to celebrate our 30th Birthday, on 18th May 2024.

Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone for coming along today to help celebrate our 30th birthday. I hope you’ve had a lovely day – I know the Crows have and we’ve really appreciated you being here. I’d also like to thank our organising committee and other helpers who have helped today run smoothly, as well as our cake bakers which does include some of Newburgh as well. I’d also like to thank Malkin for kindly offering to move their day of dance when it was realised there was a clash.

So, I’ve promised not to make this like a wedding speech – but I was asked to give a little speech about the Crows. So on behalf of the side and I….

Stone the Crows was formed in 1994 and had their first dance out in 1995. Mostly formed by members of other dance teams, primarily Lancashire Rose who wanted to try something a little different and chose to stylise the image of a Crow. Whilst we don’t have any original members anymore, we do have lots who have been part of the team almost 30 years. One early member Murray came up to Leyland from Devon, having helped form Grimspound Morris and brought with him a little dance called Tinners Rabbit – and that’s certainly made some history.

Over the years, Murray wrote some of our signature dances like Crows Nest and Sod Hall and for many years ran the side in tandem with our very own Father Christmas look-a-like Brent, who was a legend within the team and many of you will remember him wondering around entertaining and engaging the audience, being in every single photo and looking the part with his big white beard and black wig (and loving to join in the belly dancing with 400 Roses). We even had a whole day called 'Brentfest' and wore Brent lookalike masks all evening.

Unfortunately, Brent like a few others like Murray have left with those dodgy knees, but Brent’s legendary status increased over the years from walking on water - actually, he was stood on a hidden jetty just underwater) – to walking on fire to raise money for Derian House Hospice (along with a few other Crows). And, of course, being Father Christmas in our annual mumming play – going almost 25 years now.

Some of our exploits have been a little less impressive than walking on fire or water – but equally fun.

We’ve danced with an Inflatable tyre, an inflatable sausage and even a black pudding! I think we heard those magic words “paid booking” – although the going rate for dancing with a black pudding was a pound of sausage and a half dozen eggs each.

In an EFDSS article in their magazine they once said Stone the Crows were “able to entertain the crowds without resorting to pantomime”. I’m not sure they’d say that if they’d seen us dancing with a sausage, or even stamping up and down on the grass as a part of a worm charming competition - that was another paid booking – but hey we won ?? – the early bird (or Crow) always gets the worm.

In line with more normal Morris traditions, we like to dance the Sun up at Mayday, dance it down at the Winter Solstice and the Midsummer Solstices. And we can’t mention the Sun without talking about when it disappeared entirely. Back in 1999 we took a trip to Devon and danced at the Eclipse which was quite special – though possibly not as conversation worthy as watching Lady Godiva ride naked through the streets later that day – the Sun had made a reappearance by that stage as well.

Dancing the Sun up can sometimes be a little eventful, with neighbourly enquiries at dawn by the Police as to what we were doing – possibly not helped by one Crow chasing a police car across the moors near Rivington – but they did enjoy finding out more about what we were doing and just thought we were bonkers!

It’s not our only run in with the police – at Littleborough Rushcart we enticed the local bobby (on duty at the time) to go home and put her clogs on. She then did the parade, the rest of her shift and a Tinners Rabbit in clogs (Unfortunately we didn’t take her name down or get her particulars)

Luckily they didn’t need to call the Police on this occasion, but we have been officially asked to leave a punk festival in Blackpool, since we had such a good audience we were blocking all the fire exits. And we’d been invited to dance as well ??

We seemed to be a big hit with Punk and metal bands - maybe it was a rebellious phase we were going through - somehow we also ended up in a Heavy Metal bands video dancing along to their song. Look up "Ten Foot Wizard" but please not on a work computer – the song is called “Covered in tits” - but the video is perfectly decent - well, as long as you can call morris dancing decent.

It wasn’t our first film experience. We had an earlier performance with Leyland Morris (sadly unable to make it today) in a short film called Funk about a woman suffering from nightmares – one of which was being surrounded by Morris dancers in a forest. Again, a paid booking and we ended up with chips this time.

We have been through many phases through the years, but Crows has been a consistent part of many people’s lives and can be a bit of a family. We’ve had 5 weddings and number 6 is on the way. And who can forget that other wedding which made headlines for “Dead Man Weds”.

Actually, this was an ITV comedy and they needed Morris Dancers to appear at a village fete and the show was about a newspaper editor and that headline “Dead Man Weds”. It was written by Dave Spikey who drank in one of our local pubs (with Brent) and wanted Stone the Crows to appear. We even got to teach Johnny Vegas a Tinners Rabbit. Guess what – this was a paid booking as well – though as specialist extras we got paid better a bit more than a 1lb sausage or a portion of chips this time.

For many, the Crows were a core part of their life and sadly we’ve not just had weddings to go to. Some Crows have flown away over the years, and not just to damaged knees. We’ve lost Bob, John and Gill, Steve, Julie, Mark and Keith 2 during our 30 years. All taken before their time.

Being a part of a wider Morris family is really important, which is why we’re pleased you’re here today, and of course many of you were here for our 21st birthday when we became Record Breakers with the greatest number of dancers doing the same dance – which was of course Tinners Rabbit. Sadly, we’ve now lost that record, but we were immensely proud to have achieved it, together with many of our friends.

So thank you for coming today, being a part of our 30th anniversary and to lots more memories and dancing in the future.

Let's raise our glasses or mugs and a toast of "Many more years of dancing and may the knees go on forever".

Musicians and dancers always welcome. January 2024

Contact us if you are interested in joining! We practice on Thursdays 20:00-22:00 at Farington Primary School.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! January 2024

If you fancy joining us as a musician or a dancer in the new year, do come along to our Thursday evening practices from Thursday 4th January.

Chorley, guests of Amounderness Morris, Sat 18th Jun 2022

Amounderness Ladies’ North West Morris’ Day of Dance in Chorley was another annual event that we really missed during lockdown. Luckily, this was also revived this year, although later than usual in mid-June, Chorley is very local for the Crows and we always enjoy dancing there, as Chorley still retains a traditional town centre with a lively market and small shops - and micro-breweries - which is the most important for many of the Crows.

There was a good mixture of all forms of Morris dancing, Appalachian dancing and clog dancing from Chorlton and Eccleston, represented there. It was especially good to see Black Sheep Morris from Barnard Castle who recalled, many moons ago, that we taught them Ragged Crow in a workshop at Mad Cap festival in Worcestershire. Even though they have changed and adapted it over the years, they still asked us if we minded them dancing it (of course not!) and gave praise to us to the watching crowd.

The audiences were as enthusiastic as ever and we finished the day with a mass Tinner’s with the other sides, as requested by Amounderness. Lots of lovely tea and cakes in the church hall at the end of the day with some of the side rather over-indulging in huge slices of cake consumption. Everyone deserved it as the dancing and the music were excellent.

Buxton, Powderkegs Morris' 21st Birthday, Sat 11th Jun 2022

This year, 2022, Powderkegs Border Morris, celebrated their 21st Birthday. As is the custom, they organised a day of dance in Buxton on 11th June. We always enjoy going to Buxton, but don’t always enjoy the hills and slopes we have to climb between dance spots. It was a lovely sunny day and Buxton was bristling with visitors. Despite us, and some other sides, being a bit depleted through injuries and illness, we managed a few goods sets of dances, not having to repeat many too much. There was a good mix of border and Molly dancing from the sides. Many, many thanks goes to Karen, our only musician on the day, who played her fiddle with gusto and did us proud. Tea and cakes were provided afterwards – pity we had to climb up another big hill to get to the venue though!

Liverpool JMO Day of Dance, Sat 9th Apr 2022

This year’s Joint Morris Organisations' day of dance was held in April in Liverpool, a great location for the Crows, as not too far for us. Despite it being a freezing cold day, like winter, with a chilly wind, the city was packed as it was Aintree Day and Liverpool had a big football match on large screens all around the place. I don’t think they were prepared, however, for the descent of hundreds (yes, hundreds) of Morris dancers from all around the country. Bright colours, bells, straw hats, top hats, clogs and tatters were just some things adorning the dancers as they descended on the city.

The day began with a welcome by a dignitary of the city, and he had an equally distinguished costume on! We then separated into groups to dance at various venues around the city. We drew good crowds, despite all the other activities taking place, although some of us were mistaken at one point for being there for a hen party and we had an over-enthusiastic member of the public wanting to dance everything with us outside the railway station. It was really good to see sides dancing from elsewhere who we hadn’t encountered before. It was a great day all round and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Thanks to all the organisers from the Morris Federation, Open Morris and Morris Ring for inviting us.

Chester, with Clerical Error and Powderkegs Morris, Sat 26th Mar 2022

Every year for many years, until lockdown hit us all, the Crows have met up with Clerical Error from Conwy, and Powderkegs from Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire, to perform in Chester for a dance into Spring (Equinox) day of dance. Thankfully, it returned this year. And what glorious weather we had. In fact, it was probably the hottest day of the year up to the present day. There was a bit of a hitch to start with as our main dance spot, outside the town hall, was double booked by some performance artists, dressed as a cat, canary, unicorn and other creatures. As they had arranged a camera crew to film them, we were the ones who agreed to move.

So, down to the river side we went. This was a good move as the crowds were a-plenty and appreciative, despite us blocking traffic at times, dancing around a mini-roundabout. All the dancing was excellent and when not excellent, it was lots of fun. It is always such a good day, with three very different styles of Border Morris coming together, just for the fun of it and to celebrate Spring and Morris dancing with two sides who have firmly become our friends. We look forward to returning next year.

Croston Christmas Fair, Sun 5th Dec 2021

What a glorious day for dancing! The weather was dry, and pretty cold in places, but the audience were welcoming, and hot food and drinks were available everywhere, both of which kept us warm.

Crows met at The Grapes pub where we found our friends Newburgh Morris. We did two long spots there, dancing turn-and-turn-about with Newburgh, with a break for a snack and a cuppa in between, and a wander around the stalls.

Then off to dance outside The Wheatsheaf at about afternoon tea time, again with Newburgh, by the end of which it had started to get a little bit darker and a little bit colder. We wandered around a few more stalls on our way back to the car as it got dark.

A lovely dancing day - we went home tired and happy. See you next year, Croston.

Southport - fundraiser, Sat 20th Nov 2021

On Saturday, 20th November, we were asked to join Newburgh Morris to dance in aid of Children in Need. The venue was to be “outside M&S”, when I looked on Google Maps, it appeared to be inside a shopping centre. Not my first choice for a venue, then.... as it turned out, it was outside the shopping centre. Things were definitely looking up!

We were joined by Southport Swords, so there would be plenty of time to purchase warming coffees between dances. We started our programme with the customary 'Ragged Crow', and after the opening four steps (as is customary) several small children were now hiding in their mothers skirts. A good start.

Apart from the passing crowd, we had one member of the audience who appeared from his permanent big smile, to be the happiest man in Southport, this gentleman being the Big Issue seller, who’s pitch we had invaded. He told me how happy he was to see us back (after two years!). I’m not convinced that we did his sales much good, though. By the time lunchtime arrived, he still hadn’t made a sale.

Back from lunch, fish and chips and a warm up over a beer in a local pub, and our happy Big Issue seller greeted everyone of us with his beaming smile.

Also visiting us, it was really nice to see Mary R who we haven’t seen for a while. She intends returning to the fold in the new year. We couldn’t let her go without giving her a stick and dragging her in to to a Tinners Rabbit. With that as our last dance, the forecast rain arrived, and that, as they say, was that.

Newburgh tell us that £630.78 was raised on the day for Children in Need, so we did somewhat better than the Big Issue seller. Though I did buy a copy before I left.

Roughlee Scarecrow Festival, near Pendle, Sun 31st Oct 2021

This was our fourth visit to the lovely village Scarecrow and Halloween festival in Roughlee, in Pendle Witch country. This spooky event was hosted by several of the undead, a few zombies, some witches and their willing victims and spiders.

We danced our covid-adapted dances with gusto, avoiding the undead wherever possible.

Hot food was provided for all tastes (lovely vegan pumpkin soup for several of us, thank you).

Like a bad penny ... we'll be back!

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 (sadly this team is no longer going)
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 (the team is sadly no longer in existence)
Worcestershire Monkey (8) - from Wicket Brood

Lincoln Big Morris Day, Sat 5th Sept 2021

Lincoln Big Morris is a one day festival of Morris Dance held in the city of Lincoln on the first Saturday in September each year.

Details of what we got up to are coming soon!

Cider and Folk Festival, Thirsty Duck, Burscough, Mon 30th Aug 2021

The late August Bank Holiday came around quickly, as did the Cider Festival at the Thirsty Duck pub by the canal in Burscough, not far from Wigan. As we had only started back practising a few weeks beforehand we were both apprehensive and excited to do our first public post-pandemic dance-out. We had danced outside Crooke Hall pub, not far from the Thirsty Duck, recently but this was our first publicly advertised event. Luckily it was a beautiful day weather-wise with lots of sunshine and no rain. Of course, we dance in all weathers, but when it rains our tattered jackets and feathers get very wet and heavy!

This was also our first chance to test our new face paint ‘look’, and everyone looked amazing and ready to reveal the multicolour black, purple and blue-faced crows to the public. Once the musical duo took their break we were ready to start with our signature dance, Ragged Crow. All the dancing went really well and many dances included our new temporary amendments – slight changes so as to avoid touching each other too much. Body swings and grabbing wrists turned into figures with sticks and dancing in circles. The audiences loved it, even before the cider got the better of them and we had quite a few volunteers for our mass dance at the end, Tinners Rabbit.

The band were as strong as ever and it was good to see the return of our resident drummer. The musicians were ably supported by one of our team's 8 year old daughter, who had gathered a number of random children together to play percussion on tambourines and maracas, and did a super job!

It was also really good to see one of our ex-members who came to watch and support us.

Watch out, world. The Crows are back!

Crooke Inn, Crooke village nr Wigan, Thu 12th Aug 2021

On Thursday 12th August 2021 Stone the Crows danced out -- for the first time in 18 months -- at the Crooke Hall Inn in Crooke village nr Wigan.

10 dancers and 5 musicians turned out for what was a lively evening's entertainment for the suitably large local crowd.

There is always good beer on at the Crooke Hall Inn and we were supplied with generous bowls of chips.

A great evening was had by all and we've had an invite for 2022.

COVID-19 Restrictions 2020-2021

We are very sorry to announce that owing to current health restrictions from Public Health England, our summer danceout season has been drastically curtailed.

We are missing being able to entertain you all, and hope to be able to resume before too long. We hope that you will then be able to come along to watch us again once restrictions are lifted. Watch out for where you can see us on this web site.

Wishing you all the very best of health.

Croston Christmas Fair, 8th Dec 2019

What a lovely day! The weather was cold but dry, the pubs were warm and welcoming, the audience were smiling and appreciative. Plenty of home made crafts to buy all around Croston; such a lot of hard work had gone into making this a wonderful day. At lunchtime, Crows met with Newburgh Morris for a nice cup of tea (or alternative!) inside The Grapes for a natter, and for our new dancer to get rid of his nerves. Then we danced outside The Grapes where the Town Crier rang his bell and cried "Morris Dancing is as much fun as you can have with your clothers on!". Then off to dance outside The Wheatsheaf. In our well deserved break we wandered around the halls sampling their teas, home made soups and toasted tea cakes and puchasing nick-naks and baubles for our hats. Back to The Wheatsheaf for a final dance spot before wandering around a few more stalls on our way back to the car as it got dark. Thank you Croston. We'll be back!

Roughlee Scarecrow Festival, 27th Oct 2019

Roughlee in Pendle welcomed the Crows once again, for the third year running to their annual Scarecrow Festival. Despite the rainy downpours and cold weather, we managed to get quite a lot of dancing done to an appreciative crowd of real people and scarecrows, made even more scary by a grave in the car park with a skull poised on top. The beer drinkers in the side (most of them) proclaimed the real ale bar to be a success and the beer to be really nice. We were watched by a group of really keen young scouts who entered into learning Tinners' Rabbit with enthusiasm. There were truly a couple of excellent dancers amongst them, whom we hope might remember the experience and come and join us one day. They have also invited us to return to perform again next year, so they mustn’t have tired of us yet. And why would they? We have such fun.

Glasson Dock, 6th Oct 2019

At the second Glasson Dock festival, primarily featuring vintage vehicles, the Crows were booked to provide entertainment alongside a Georgy Formby tribute, Victorian magical acts, a skiffle band, jazz band and a children’s choir. We delighted the mainly bemused onlookers, especially those who had come to look at old cars and vans or shire horses. Crows took their usual photo opportunities to be photographed in a variety of poses, including with the shire horses, “George Forby” and those dressed in Victorian costume.

The dancing was good, and the rain was a bit of a problem, especially heavy at times, but it dried up long enough to do two good dance spots. A couple of people even asked for details as possible new members, always a good sign! It is always interesting to dance at events that are not exclusively morris dance related, as it draws in new audiences and hopefully introduces new people to the world of border morris.

Otley Folk Festival, 21st Sept 2019

On a remarkably hot day for September, the Crows descended on Otley to return to dance at their annual folk festival for the first time in seven years. At the first spot we were surrounded by other dancers and danced with our usual enthusiasm and energy. Our second spot was down by the riverside, where we attracted a big crowd of interested passers-by and morris enthusiasts who had come to watch the excellent sides who performed throughout the town during the day. Our afternoon performances seemed to go down well with the ever-growing crowds.

Our final showcase spots timetabled us to dance last, as the grand finale, where we performed Cuckoo’s Nest and White Ladies. A great day was had by all of the Crows and we have already been invited back for next year.

Go Wild at Hollins Community Centre, 15th Sept 2019

As Border Morris Dancers, a key item of our armoury is a stick! We use Hazel: it's straight, strong and will survive the harshest of hitting. Well, these sticks don't grow on trees! Our lovely friends at Philips' Park in Bury harvest them for us so that we can keep on dancing. In return we support their wonderful 'Go Wild' Day.

We had a great turn out of Crows as we neared the end of the summer. This might be to do with the event being across the road from a pub, but that might just be a coincidence. We performed two 'spots' during the afternoon to a very appreciative audience comprised of attendees at the event and a good numbers of passers by - bemused walkers, cyclists and motorists all stopped to see what was going on and enjoyed the dancing.

In our break we were grateful of the free tea and coffee and the pub (again!) and we all had chance to have a look around the stalls inside. A good number of charity stalls were there along with some very unusual animals - and no, we don't mean Crows! There was a very jolly looking skunk and a pair of quite beautiful Kookaburras - with those pointy beaks a crow wouldn't stand a chance! It is also customary for us all to have a try on the tombola and this was no exception. We all went away with an array of gifts.

The second session of dancing was also well received and we finished with the traditional Tinners' Rabbit. After the dancing had finished most of our number retired to ... guess where? ... the pub!!

York Festival of Traditional Dance, 7th Sept 2019

Hosted by the slightly notorious Ebor Morris. Thankfully, the rain was not as heavy as the massive downpour last year in York, which forced many sides to abandon dancing and head for the pub. There were a few patches of rain, but on the whole we managed to perform in most of the dance spots. York is always a good place to do morris dancing as there are large crowds of overseas tourists who are fascinated with our traditional dances. The day started with a short procession and then to the different dance spots. Interestingly, we were the only Border morris side there, alongside the North West and Cotswold sides, so our performances went down really well. The final showcase was an interesting mix of dances and music. Some of us went to a café afterwards for tea and cake where we were introduced to a Chow with her own Instagram page! Linda insisted on visiting the Cat Gallery to make purchases, as well as buying 12 books in a bookshop, which made the walk back to the car much longer and slower. We have been invited back next year so something to look forward to!

Buxton Day of Dance, 20th July 2019

Thanks to Chapel-en-le-Frith for inviting us to their annual event in Buxton. It looked like a promising day weather-wise. The sun was shining as we started at our first dance spot with Thelwall, Chip of the Old and St Katharine’s. However, within a few minutes the heavens had opened and the first downpour of the day began. It rained. And it rained more. Crows and other sides took refuge in doorways or charity shops (always a good excuse to buy something). Eventually the rain ceased, but then started again.

Nevertheless, fearless Crows decided to start the dancing off for the second spot, despite no one else being there and no audience. By the time we had finished, the rain had eased and we were joined by Powderkegs and the other sides. The highlight of this spot was the mass Worcestershire Monkey with Powerkegs which proved an interesting experience for both sides. Then it rained. And rained some more.

Luckily, over lunch the weather had decided to give the rain a break and the sun started to shine, resulting in a lovely dry afternoon – that is until it rained again. We danced with friends old and new.

The day culminated in all the sides coming together on the Slopes to perform show dances. Crows did a mighty performance of the Upton Stick dance. The final mass dance was a Cotswold dance and, as the Crows don’t have any hankies (well, we do have black ones but they weren’t with us) most of us made do with serviettes, paper tissues and ripped up bin liners or plastic bags. The traditional ice cream was handed out at the end, with very nice almond vegan Magnums for the non-dairy people. All in all a fun, if very wet, day in Buxton.

Round about Ilkley with 400 Roses, 13th July 2019

We all set off early, bright eyed and bushy tailed, to join our friends, 400 Roses, for their annual 'Round About Ilkley' Tour with Stone the Crows and Buttercross Belles. After some light refreshment, coffee or tea and toast, we all met up at the Bandstand where a crowd soon gathered to watch. Each side took turns to dance (as is the norm) and when it was our turn the ‘Master of Ceremonies’ introduced us as “the Dramatic Stone the Crows”. 400 Roses dance to traditional folk tunes played by their band T’Thorns, giving an exciting display with their intricate Tribal style belly dances and swirling red skirts. The Buttercross Belles, a ladies North West Morris side, danced to an excellent lone fiddler and were a joy to watch. We finished off our spot with a massed belly dance - the Crows were eager to join in the belly dancing, with some of our musicians happy to join the band.

After the Bandstand we moved on to dance outside The Tea Rooms where many passers-by stopped to watch. A break for lunch saw the Crows depart to the nearest pub, appropriately name Bar T’at, to partake in more light refreshment before walking to The Riverside Park for chips and our final dance. It was a lovely warm day and the park was busy, again we soon attracted a large audience. Between us all we gave the appreciative audiences brilliant displays at all three dance spots and are looking forward to next year’s Round About Ilkley Tour.

The Crown Affair, 7th July 2019

It is always a pleasure to be invited to the Crown Affair, the annual Day of Dance organised by the world famous Brittania Coconut Dancers of Bacup (aka the Nutters). By the time we start dancing many of the Nutters were already merry through ale and ready to enjoy a good day of dance! Hospitality is always to the highest standard, with free beer and food available for dancers all day. It was good to see dancers from far and wide (Customs & Exiles Morris had come from Berkshire by coach). The day was very hot and the audience was big. As there are so many sides, including mummers performers, we don’t get to do so many dances, but the whole day is about socialising and enjoying the company and generally having a good time, which we did.

Midsummer at Croston, 20th June 2019

Our annual get-together with friends old and new, Stone the Crows went to the Lord Nelson in lovely Croston to celebrate midsummer. This year we were joined as usual by the local schoolchildren who danced so well (big shout out to them), and by friends from Fylde Coast Cloggers, Newburgh Morris and Royal Preston Morris. With a good audience and fine weather it was a fun evening for all. Stone the Crows even added a last minute variation as one Crow decided to let his stick take flight halfway through a dance (you know who you are!).

Many thanks to the Lord Nelson for hosting the event and to everyone - performers and audience alike - who took part. We hope you enjoyed this annual event, and do please come to see us again at various places as we dance our way through summer. Who knows, you may even decide to join us, hopefully you’ll enjoy it just as much as we do.

Gate to Southwell Festival, 8th-9th June 2019

Crows has a wonderful weekend at the magnificent Gate to Southwell Festival (GTSF) in Nottinghamshire. This weekend festival has 4 stages where you can see a variety of music styles, not just folkie, so there's something to suit most tastes. Talking of tastes, there are several festival food stalls on site, the highlight being the chunky chips (of which Crows are particularly fond, don't'cha know).

The weather was a mixed bag, a bit wet on the Friday and Saturday, moving to gloriously sunny on the Sunday. The unseasonably cold weather for June didn't dampen our spirits, though. Only one of our dance spots was rained off, so we had to console ourselves by watching bands under cover in the beer tent. We had fun dancing in town on both days, and our last dance of the weekend was on the festival site in sunshine with the audience lounging about having a lazy day and catching rays - just as it should be.

We have been lucky enough to be invited to the GTSF several years, and very much look forward to our next visit.

Upton Folk Festival, 3rd-6th May 2019

So ... May Day being a bank holiday weekend, Stone The Crows went off to the lovely town of Upton upon Severn to take part in and enjoy their annual folk festival. A Morris hat's off to the organisers of an event that seems be growing year on year for making it such an enjoyable weekend for all.

Temperatures were lower than last year but had no effect on the enthusiasm, enjoyment and fun, as the streets filled with performers and visitors to enjoy music, dance, costumes and laughter. We - Stone the Crows - were well received by good audiences at each performance, and as a special thank you to our inaugurator we even opened a museum for 'sticks lost down drains' (different story, same fun). If you saw we Crows or any of the many types of dance that were on show and feel interested in trying it, contact one of your local sides, you won’t be sorry.

Stone the Crows will be performing most Thursday evenings through the summer and at other events, come along to see us, we'd love to see you and will do our best to please.

Dancing at Dawn on May Day, 1st May 2019

It is a tradition of many morris sides to dance the sun up on May Day. We joined in this tradition about six years ago, when we decided to welcome the rising of the sun for May Day at Scout Road car park, half way up Winter Hill, between Bolton and Horwich, as it has a good view of sunrise. Some years we have danced up the sun on Old May Day (May 8th) as many of the side have been away at events. This year we actually managed the eve of 1st May.

As usual, we met at 5.15 to dance until 5.36, actual sunrise. The same usual suspects turned up in the car park, surprisingly quiet, as many years we have disturbed the unsuspecting public, who we have blocked in, so they have had to endure the sight of a bunch of human crows dancing and playing music until dawn. It was a freezing cold morning and it looked like the sun wouldn’t grace us with its presence throught the mist.

We were graced with the presence of some members of the public who came to watch, join in the music and dance a Tinners Rabbit with us. Eight mad, half-asleep dancers, two musicians, one child and a dog welcomed in May. We even saw a slither of sunlight through the misty sky. One of the team even turned up to dance on her way to the airport to a conference in Aberdeen, not wanting to miss our special event. Let‘s hope we have heralded a beautiful spring and amazing summer weather like we did las year. Happy Beltane.

Amounderness Day of Dance in Chorley, 27th Apr 2019

Thank you to all the dancers and musicians for braving the weather at the annual day of dance in Chorley hosted by Amounderness Morris. It was wet and windy but great fun. We did get rained off dancing in public, but continued in St Mary's Community Hall which ended the day on a high.

'John Lot' Good Friday tour, 19th Apr 2019

This is the regular event on Good Friday hosted by John O'Gaunt, but this year taken over by Yon Lot, hence the hybrid name! The programme was the same as usual, but the weather was unusually hot. Phew, what a scorcher.

Dance theams with us were Yon Lot (clog steppers), John O'Gaunt Rapper, Huw & Guy (clog stepping), Southport Swords (Longsword) and Crook Morris (Cotswold & Rapper).

We got the coach in Lancaster and first stop was Milnthorpe where we danced at the regular Friday Market and also outside the church. Then off to the Malt Shovel in Warton where we basked in the sunshine and lunched heartily, and did a bit of dancing too. Final stop of the day was at Arnside where we broke into 2 groups - one group danced outside the Posh Sardine, who were most helpful and obliging, at the other group danced on the jetty.

Ice creams all round and back on the coach to rest our weary feet, and then a social evening at the Lansil. A fine day out, roll on next year!

Border Morris Meet, guests of Silurian Border Morris Men, 14th Apr 2019

This has become a regular favourite event for the Crows - a day of dance for Border Morris teams, hosted by Silurain Border Morris Men. This year was extra special, as it was Silurian's 50th birthday.

Stone the Crows hired a coach and set off from Leyland at 7:30am to get to Ledbury rested and ready to dance at 11:00. The first spot was at The Talbot where we danced with The Witchmen (from Kettering, Northamptonshire) and Styx of Stroud. Our second spot was under the cover of the Market Square with Fox's Morris, where we enjoyed dancing with them our 'Ragged Crow' dance. At our final spot of the day we were pleased to dance with the host team, Silurian; Huginn & Munnin dressed as ravens (from London), plus a new team of great young dancers from Ledbury - you can't get more local than that!

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 throng 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:
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.

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STC have been going for 30 years! 18th May 2024
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