8 media items.
Askham Richard Sword Dance
Sam Bland (76) of Askham Richard said that dances dancers had not been out here for 40 or more years. He was leader.
The dancers numbered 8 and wore white tunics or coats ornamented with red braid, [simply] , and white trousers with red stripe. High
hats covered with coloured ribbons and wooden swords of [ash], 3 ft long , with handles made with additional blacks screwed on as at Poppleton.
There was also a Besom Betty and an Ol Fool, a King and Queen and [Poet/politician] with spectacles and high boots.
The Betty swept away the snow before they danced ("We used to enjoy [anoches] paper but it wanted to be frost and snow") The Fool carried a long stick with a bladder attached to it with which he hit the lads to keep them back. There were also two "beggars" with tin boxes and two men carrying a large banner on two poles with the inscription "God Speed the Plough"
When they moved from place to place they went in procession in the following order (1) Banner
(2) Band consisting of two fiddles and a drummer.
(3) King and Queen arm in arm
(4) Besom Betty and Old Fool
(5) the eight dancers in single file.
The eight dancers in their high hats placed small and variously coloured flags on the points of their [ ? ] running the [ ? ] in the slot (hem)
Then they held up and waved as they marched, the flags being about the size of [Landups] they advanced in this way.
All marched along in sigle file slowly. the last man then heyed up to the top passing [more/men] quickly than the others.
There the last but one and so forth, last man heying up again as dancer no 1 had passed him. In this threading movement all moved forward slowly.
the men who were heying moving faster than the others when they came to their [position], the procession was broken up, the dancers removed their flags, took off their high hats and substituted [for] wreaths of artificial flowers.
They then formed up in time, whereat they were "sung on" by the "singer -on" who called them out one by one in front of the line of dancers each of
the latter on being called following him in order.
Will Calvert (72) (3 Railway View, [Brighouse] York) was 'singer on".
Apparently [having] he [initiated] this having learned the [trick] from Bobby Davidson of [ ? ] where he lived for 7 years.
He sang the tune [&] the words of the last verse which was all he could remember;-
In comes little [twinkleholm]
That comical lad
Which men now can call
he likes to be a lad and takes after his dad
And [follows] the young ladies right well.
At the finish of the song he stamped his feet and cried " Now my [lads], present, rattle up" and the dance began.
All formed up in a [hurry], swords on right shoulders and walked round clockwise (8 bars)
Usual way moving around clockwise (8 bars)
over your own sword
As usual and round
8 lowers his sword, nos 1,6,2,5,3 & in order jumps it, nos 1,2 &3 turning to their left, nos 4,5,&6 to their right
no 7 then comes [round] and so [forth]
Same as above
All face centre, raise arms over heads and tie, hilt underpoint, as at [Helby].
The leader raises Lock by his own hilt in right hand and enters ring and moves round on his axis while rest dance round clockwise. (8 bars)
No 1 then takes his place in ring, lowers Lock horizontally to waist level, all take their own hilts and walk round (8 bars) and draw on 2' beat of last bar
This was first figure
Usual way followed by same ritual as in Fig 1
This done as at Helby [Malrecend] all [La] [harmonising]
as they move up and down, alternatively over and under
Same as Stride Lock at Poppleton
during the last Lock the fool creep into the ring during the [ ? ] and puts his head into the Lock, When the swords are drawn he tumbles down and feigns death.
There is a cry for the doctor , the 10-pound [doctor] who comes and brings him back to life, pouring the contents of a bottle down his throat, this was acted in the usual mummers way.
Will Calvert accounted that they had 6 not 8 dancers but this was no doubt [ ? ] with [ ? ] practice As singer on he carried a metal sword.
Robert Gillson told me there were 8 dancers and he played the fiddle for the Askham Richard, Askham [reyon] men. He is now living at latter place.
He gave me the air he usually played which is a [version] of 'The Girl I Left Behind Me' and British Grenadiers (see Tune Book). Calvert said they always played [Teshie] Laddie as well but their again may have [been] from his recollections, He sang [Teshie] Laddie as I
I noted it from [Bill] Bland , however also mentions [soldier] laddie and hummed a few bars so no doubt this and 'The Girl' were both played. Probably a third tune was played to the New Roll.
The dancers would go out for a full week beginning on the first Monday after Xmas. Once they went for a fortnight and got as far as Leeds. They made a lot of money
"But what we got we spent".
He explained the usual week's itinerary as follows; Copmanthorpe, Colton, Appleton, Walten Parne, Tadcentre (staying the night).
Newton Hyme, Thorpe, Barten, Cliffall (spend night)
Bramham, the two Hemicks, [ ? ] Scarecroft (night)
Thorner, Haremad, Bilton, Tacksmith (night)
Mancton, Russeith, Askham Richard
I saw Mr Bland again on Feb 17 and got further particulars as follows;
There were 4 locks, side lock, ride lock, shoulder lock, back lock.
Apparently side lock was a full turn cl. face centre , separate hands & tie.
Ride Lock,; all face c cl each places point of his own sword between [legs], all go round, put left legs on own sword, face centre and tie.
Shoulder Lock; all face c cl place sword over right shoulder, go round each holding point in front with l hand, then make full turn cl (?) face centre separate hands and tie.
Back Lock; rather rather doubtful, but I am putting this was same as [sleghts] lock only done high at shoulder, but for Bland said they put arms over each other's shoulder "-cuddled each other".
Thus was and actual figure not noted before in wh. distinctive movements were double sword down and double sword up, done apparently as at Handsmouth except that
first man jumped sword and didn't [clap]
King wore soldiers clothes with [sash ]over his shoulder.
Only one time while dancing cc [soldier] laddie others played when marching at beginning King said" I am king and a conquerer, and [ ? ] advance' to wh. clown replied" and I am a clown , an ugly clown and I've come to see you dance" Then dance began.
They danced throughout [i.e.] with springy running steps.
Betty in old frock and bonnet, When Dr failed to cure clown, B [ ? ] his face with cream saying "Ah 'll cure him" and she did.
The Clash was done both ways cl and c cl but without changing hands though the turn was outward ie c cl.