History of the Side

In the early 1930’s Mrs. Charlotte Oakey moved to Bathampton to become become head teacher of the village school. She came from the village of Corston on the other side of Bath where she had already built up teams of folk dancers. It was only natural that she included Morris Dancing in the activities of the schools Scout group and in 1934 “Mrs. Oakey’s Boys” side was born.

This side later grew into the “Bathampton Morris Men”.

Portrait of our founder Mrs Oakey
Our Founder, Mrs Oakey
6 morris men and a piano accordion player in front of Bath Abbey in 1954
1954 Bath Abbey

The first Squire of the side was Dave Duncan who still danced with the side into the 1980s.

By 1936, dancers from Bathampton were performing in public and achieved the first of their many successes at a competitive folk dance festival.

The costume of the side at that time was traditional whites with bellpads and crossed baldrics. The baldrics for half the side were orange with red rosettes while the other half were red with orange rosettes. In the 1940’s decorated black hats (mainly bowlers) were added to the kit.

The Fool and the Hobby Horse began to appear with the side in the early 1950’s but the original Hobby Horse (of the ‘rider’ type) was lost in the fire of Bathampton Village Hall, along with some equipment and records of the side.

One of our dancers, John Salmon, wrote a short history of our “stable”. A history, it seems, can easily show its age, but we think it’s still definitely worth a read. Download it here.

The costume of the 1950’s was a mixture determined by what the men could afford in the difficult post-war period, but was typified by grey flannel trousers.

Early in the 1960’s the kit was standardised into what it is today. The ‘Wyf of Bath‘ motif was donated to the side by the cartoonist Osbert Lancaster at the end of the decade.

The old 'obby' horse
The old obby ‘os

In June 1968, at Stratford on Avon, the side danced into the Morris Ring.

Bathampton Morris Men in front of Bath Abbey in 1994
Bathampton Morris Men 1994

Since 1949 we have traditionally danced in Bath’s Abbey Churchyard on the afternoon of the first Saturday in May and in the past this was sometimes combined with a display at the Bath Flower Show on the same day.

In 1996 we toured Ireland, appearing at the Tipperary and Ennistymon Festivals. In 1999 we returned to Ireland and toured the Dingle peninsula, appearing at the Castlegregory Festival and again at the Tipperary Festival. 2000 took us to Barcelona, where we danced with the local morris side ‘Black Horse Morris’ which was founded by one of our members. Central European tours have included Prague in 2003, Budapest in 2005 and Krakow in 2007.

In 2023 we danced in Charenton-le-Pont as part of their twinning celebration, representing Trowbridge. We danced again for the French committee when they visited Trowbridge later in the year.