Bourne Borderers Morris is a mixed side from Bourne in Lincolnshire, performing stick dances based on the few recorded traditional dances from the counties of Herefordshire, Shropshire, and Worcestershire along the Welsh Border, known as Welsh Border Morris.
The side was formed in 1992, and for the last 18 years we have been delighting audiences with our loud, energetic and colourful dancing, traditional folk music and Mummers Play. We practice on a Wednesday night in Edenham, and can often be seen dancing out at the weekends in Lincolnshire and further afield. Regular fixtures on the calendar include the Whittlesea Straw Bear Festival, Spalding Pumpkin Parade, Lincoln Morris Festival and the Corby Glen Sheep Fair.
We dance in distinctive green and yellow tattercoats, top hats, bells and black faces. Blackface is a common feature among Border Morris sides; there are several possible explanations, but it certainly dates back to Victorian times when the Border Morris dancers were seasonal workers who would supplement their meagre incomes in Winter by dancing and inviting donations from the audience. This was considered begging, and blackening their faces was a form of disguise to help prevent the dancers from being recognised when the police arrived. The rag coats, which traditionally featured paper as well as cloth ribbons, were very warm and practical.
Very few records exist of the Welsh Border Morris dances that were originally performed, and those that do are mostly vague. It would seem that where a village boasted a Morris side, they would only perform one dance, and not always in the same way. For that reason, our dances are choreographed based on what is known of the original dances, creating a living tradition. These dances can be performed to both traditional and popular tunes.
The Mummers play that we perform every year around St George’s Day is based on the fight between good and evil. One of the bad guys is killed off by the other, and then revived by a magical doctor. Various other characters appear during the course of the play including St George, the dragon, a Turkish knight, a maiden and a peasant.