The National Association of Men's Morris & Sword Dance Clubs

Centenary of Percy Manning - The Man who collected Oxfordshire

Centenary of Percy Manning - The Man who collected Oxfordshire

Centenary of Percy Manning -  The Man who collected Oxfordshire

2017 sees the centenary of the death of historian, folklorist and archaeologist Percy Manning (1870-1917).

It would be hard to overstate Manning’s influence on the revival of morris dance in the twentieth century. Perhaps most crucial is the fact that his work in reviving the Headington Quarry Morris Dancers made possible and stimulated the subsequent work of Cecil Sharp and others in collecting dance material and promoting a folk revival.

A variety of events are planned in Oxford to commemorate Manning’s life and the breadth of his work including exhibitions, talks, concerts and dance displays.

Manning’s interest in Morris and other folklore developed whilst he was an undergraduate student at Oxford University in the 1890’s. His influence in researching collecting and reviving Morris traditions was substantial.  He collected information on dances, and associated customs – most of which had ceased to be regularly performed and lectured and published for the folklore society. Perhaps most crucially he revived the Headington Quarry Morris Dancers with a concert just a few months before they met Cecil Sharp. The stimulus which this meeting gave to the subsequent collection and revival of morris dancing is well known.

His notes in the Bodleian Duke Humfrey Library (‘Folklore’ Seasons) also allowed the reconstruction of the dances from Stanton Harcourt, preserved and regularly danced in the village by the Icknield Way Morris Men wearing Stantonised kit.

Current planned events are as follows

Exhibition displays

18 February 2017-23 March 2017    Bodleian Library (Weston Library)    “Percy Manning: The Man who Collected Oxfordshire” – Blackwell Hall display
20 February 2017-15 May 2017    Pitt Rivers Museum    Percy Manning in Oxfordshire Folklore – Museum trail
4 March 2017-22 April 2017    Museum of Oxford     Mummers and Maypoles, in celebration of Percy Manning
March 2017 - tbc  Ashmolean Museum    Percy Manning: The “keen field antiquary” – display, Medieval gallery

Lectures and Events

18 February 2017    Percy Manning – The Man Who Collected Oxfordshire    Continuing Education Study Day, RewleyHouse
21 February 2017    “Old cats of both genders: Percy Manning and the OAHS” – Oxford Architectural and Historical Society lecture (open to all) – Mike Heaney
see     Rewley House, 5.30 pm
12 March 2017    “Seasonal Songs and Forgotten Tunes “ Bodleian Libraries/ Music Faculty half-day workshop – Alice Little – free, open to all    Denis Arnold Hall, Music Faculty, St Aldate’s, 2 pm, contact alice.little [at]
22 March 2017    “What happened to the extraordinary collections of Percy Manning” – Bodleian lunchtime lecture, free, open to all – Mike Heaney    Weston Library lecture theatre, 1 pm
24 March 2017    Percy Manning Centenary Celebration Concert – Magpie Lane and Headington Quarry Morris Dancers    St Andrew’s church, Linton Rd, 8 pm
8 April 2017    Blue plaque unveiling     Banbury Road, Summertown, 11 am Morris Dancing in the Stanton Harcourt Tradition by Icknield Way Morris Men
6 May 2017    Bark-horn making, two half-day workshops – Chris Park – free, open to all    Blackwood Seminar Room, Pitt Rivers Museum, 10 am and 1 pm, see

26 May 2017 "Percy Manning's explorations in Finstock and its neighbourhood" - Finstock Village Music Festival, village Hall, 8 pm - Mike Heaney

In addition a book is coming out in February, "Percy Manning: The Man Who Collected Oxfordshire" (Archaeopress – edited by Mike Heaney)

Kirtlington Morris have contributed to the Pitt Rivers Museum display which features the morris costume bought by Manning’s agent Thomas Carter in 1894.The Pitt Rivers display will incorporate photos, elements of kit and it is hoped music from the current Kirtlington side as well as other related items such as the Whitsun horns from Ducklington. There will be workshops on whit-horn making and the seasonal songs Manning collected. The current Kirtlington side hopes to dance at the opening and at Oxford folk weekend.

Headington Quarry Morris Dancers will perform with the group Magpie Lane in a restaging of the 1899 concert.

A further Morris display – by Icknield Way Morris Men - of the Stanton Harcourt tradition which Manning collected is planned at the unveiling of the blue plaque on 8 April.