Vandalls of Hammerwich

A stick dance for eight, taught to the side by Gloucestershire Morris Men in 2007. Note spelling of 'vandalls' the word is related to 'villein' meaning farm labourer) The nine dances that comprise the Lichfield ‘tradition’ were collected in somewhat mysterious circumstances in 1954/5. Following an appeal in the local newspaper, six manuscripts were received anonymously by Bill Everett, squire of local morris side Men of Mercia (later Lichfield Morris) apparently having been noted down in 1898/99 by three lady collectors. The dances were reconstructed, and subsequently performed, and became very popular. (Some North American sides dance them exclusively!) However there were always doubts about their authenticity, and historian Dr Roy Judge proved in 1992 (Journal of FLS vol.103 ii) that the whole thing was a hoax. His evidence was based on a study of the extensive records of morris dancing in Lichfield, which was well documented in the period 1774 – 1830, and also processional dancing performed by young boys in the period 1900 to 1930. However all this dancing seemed to be North West in style, not Cotswold –related as were the dances in the manuscripts. The clincher to the story was the discovery that the paper on which they were written could not have been older than 1930 because of the watermark in the paper on which they were written! The truth will unfortunately never be known as Bill Everett committed suicide in 1957. The tune is related to 'Come to the Bower'.

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