Greensleeves Morris Men – and spectators – brave rain for traditional winter play

Morris dancing may be one of Britain’s vanishing traditions – but rain was not enough to make one group run for cover – or the crowds who came to see them.

Spectators braved Boxing Day rain to watch Greensleeves Morris Men, Merton’s local Morris dancing group, perform their traditional winter Mummers play and dance outside pubs.

It helped that another British tradition – warm beer – was handy.

They visited the Hand in Hand and neighbouring Crooked Billet public houses on the Crooked Billet at the edge of Wimbledon Common.

The enthusiastic crowd cheered and laughed along to the lively performance that rounded off Greensleeves’ annual Boxing Day tour.

It started in the morning at nearby Alexander House care home, followed by a noon performance in Wimbledon Village High Street opposite the Rose & Crown public house.

Their leader – known as the squire – Dave Legg, said: “The audiences were great. There were fewer people than usual because of the rain, but those that were there had a good time and enjoyed themselves.

“Greensleeves performing in Wimbledon is a Christmas tradition. The audiences have been fantastic as usual, in spite of the rain.

“We have been performing our Mummers play for more than 20 years. There’s always a great crowd in Wimbledon Village. Everyone is in a festive mood and has a good time.”

The Morris Men entertained Alexander House residents with their traditional handkerchief and stick dances, which were followed by warm mince pies and hot drinks.

“I thought it was terrific. Morris dancing is an old tradition, it was marvelous,” said Dorothy Harrison, a resident at Alexander House.

The care home’s staff also enjoyed Greensleeves’ annual Boxing Day visit.

“It went amazingly well,” said Terrence Surin, Alexander House’s events co-ordinator.

“It’s good keeping old traditions alive. The residents really enjoyed the dancing. It’s great to have this here at Christmas time.”

Greensleeves are inviting newcomers to join them at their New Year practice sessions. A visit to the pub may or may not be included. The first Friday practice session on January 10 is from 8-10pm at South Wimbledon Community Centre, 78 Victory Road, SW19 IHN.

Founded in 1926, Greensleeves is London’s longest established Morris dancing club and has been based in Wimbledon for the past 37 years.

Beginners are welcome and inquiries can be addressed to the club secretary (known as a Bagman) David Cooling on 07500993993 or bagman@greensleevesmorris.org.uk

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