10 miles West of Oxford along A420 to junction of B4044
Brief History of Tradition
Stanton Harcourt (Oxon.) is a small village
dating from a Bronze Age settlement 12 miles north of Wantage,
5 miles west of Oxford and more significantly (in Morris terms)
2 miles south of Eynsham, a scene of more intense historical
Morris activity. The village is noted as the home of
the Harcourt family at the Manor from 12th-18thC
(and now back in residence after a couple of centuries in
The Harcourts are the only surviving family
of the Norman Conquest in Oxfordshire. The Norman church contains
the tomb of Robert Harcourt, Henry Tudor's standard bearer
at Bosworth Field (1485). The remains of the standard hang
above his tomb. The whole village has a feel of feudal England
about it, but the accessible history of Morris dancing in
the area principally concerns the hamlet of Sutton to the
north of the manorial estate.
Our knowledge of historical Morris activity
in Stanton comes from 2 documents; Percy Manning's account
in 'Folklore' (Seasons) 11, and a manuscript dated ca.1920
ascribed to Arthur? Williams. Manning was an Oxfordshire folklorist
who, amongst other things, encouraged the revival of the Morris
in Headington, which was the team Sharp saw in 1899.
What followed became history.
Manning paid a retired geologist/fossil collector
Thomas Carter as a researcher. Carter interviewed, Joseph
Goodlake, an old Stanton Harcourt dancer. Just 4 months after
the recorded date of that interview he died from the Morris
dancers curse (cirrhosis of the liver).
Joseph Goodlake's account to Carter/Manning
listed 10 dances for which he only described the chorus (Distinctive
Figure - DF) for 7. These were 5 stick dances and 2 clap dances.
This is highly unusual for this region surrounded by handkerchief
only traditions; sticks appeared to have only become incorporated
into Morris dancing from the late 18th - early
19thC. Bearing this in mind, along with the hypothesis
for the commercial motivation for the Morris, it is possible
that Stanton Harcourt dances were contrived in mid 19thC
without any historical development; this would account for
the contrast with surrounding styles.
From general Morris evolutionary features
we might expect any older Stanton Harcourt dances to use handkerchiefs
but the only notation for a handkerchief dance comes from
Williams' manuscript. The music would have been pipe and tabor
and possibly fiddle later on.
is known concerning where and when the Morris would have been
danced in Stanton Harcourt. The Stanton Harcourt dances
seen these days is principally the reconstruction of Roy Dommett
who held instructionals on his interpretation of the Manning
and Williams notes in the 70's. The Icknield Way Morris
Men continued it from there via our late foreman, Joe
Dances Performed by Our Side
Jockey to the Fair
of the Mill (Circle Dance)
Portsmouth (Morris Off)
Care of the Tradition
The Stanton Harcourt tradition is currently under
the care of the Side. We offer demonstrations and
instructionals. Full details of
this tradition are FREELY available as a PDF File (232kB).
Performance at Stanton