The founding National Association of Morris and Sword Dance Clubs

Devil's Dyke MM - May Day Dawn Rose poses hit the headlines

Devil's Dyke MM - May Day Dawn Rose poses hit the headlines

The Devil’s Dyke Morris Men have danced on May Day at Wandlebury Country Park, just south of Cambridge, “since time immemorial”, i.e. the early 1980s, frequently to audiences of nearly 100 people and several dogs. We’d provisionally agreed earlier in the year with the charity that runs the site, Cambridge Past, Present and Future (CPPF, that we’d be there on May Day, but understandably this of course had to be cancelled with the present Covid “roadmap”. So men were going to do their own thing; my wife and I had arranged to dance as last year on the golf course in Whaddon.

Friday morning we received an enquiry from David Rose, a photographer for the Sunday Telegraph, whether we would be at Wandlebury as he was wanting to do a shoot on how the Morris was dealing with carrying out traditions in the current environment. It seemed too good a chance to miss and so a few phone calls later, we had obtained the permission of CPFF to dance there and had assembled three dancers and a musician.

Everyone showed up as agreed at Wandlebury around 05:15 on May Day and we made our way to the meadow where we usually dance, which has a fabulous view on a clear day of the sun rising over the trees. And was it a clear day! Although it was very cold, the light was bright, there was not a cloud in the sky, and a gentle mist arose as the air warmed. It was truly remarkable. And in spite of the fact that our appearance was completely unannounced, we even had an audience of six people and two dogs. The Morris Call was played by Helen Strudwick, and then Paul Redhead, Randall Scott and I performed a couple of socially-distanced jigs to bring on the sun. The next half an hour was spent redoing bits of jigs so that David could get the right images, all as the mist continued to rise and the sun appeared magnificently over the trees.

It was a truly magical moment, possibly the finest dawn I’ve seen there, and one and all were happy with what we all achieved. One of David Rose’s photos appeared in the next day’s Sunday Telegraph, and so we’ve had our 15 minutes of fame this year. We thank David for giving us the opportunity, and CPPF for allowing it to happen.

Nigel Strudwick

Squire, Devil’s Dyke MM