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About Dr Turberville's Morris!


This page gives you some general information about Dr Turberville's Morris, including answers to the burning questions such as "Who is (or was) Dr Turberville?"; "Where is Crewkerne anyway?"; and the perennial favourite, "What is Morris Dancing?".

In case this isn't enough, there are links to more information about many of these topics scattered in the text. These links are underlined. And if you'd like to know more, including our views on morris and the folk process, and details of the Wayford tradition and dances, we have written a book all about it, which you can obtain direct from us when you next see us, or if you can't wait please contact us!

Page Contents

This page goes on and on and on; if you don't believe me, scroll down and see. First there's who we are and what we do, then there's how we started. Then there's the obligatory bit where I "explain" about Morris and the morris traditions or different dances, and in particular the traditions we dance. After that, there's some description of our kit so that you might be able to recognise us if you see us. And then there's even more stuff! It might have been a good idea to spread this over two or more pages.

You can browse the whole page's contents, or you could use the links in the panel on the left to take you straight to any sections of this page which tickle your interest. Within each section, where further information is available further links (underlined) will take you to other pages.

Some General Notes about Dr Turberville's Morris

Who are we and what do we do?

Dr Turberville's Morris is a mixed Morris "side" or team from Crewkerne in Somerset, UK. We "do" Morris dancing (of which more later); mostly Cotswold Morris and some Border Morris. We take our name from the most famous son of Crewkerne, the celebrated oculist Dr. D'Aubigny Turberville.

We dance English Cotswold Morris dances from the villages or "traditions" of Wayford, Hinton-in-the-Hedges, Ilmington, Bampton and Oddingborough. You can find out more about these specific traditions, including where they come from and how they differ, by following the link to "Repertoire" in the main menu.

We also dance some Border Morris dances, including some from Dartmoor, Shropshire and a few other areas, in a sort of "Cotswold" style.

During the Summer months we can be seen dancing most Tuesday evenings somewhere in South Somerset or West Dorset, often at friendly local pubs, and we are liable to appear at events such as fetes and fairs, where we can be recognised by our costume of white, with green and maroon baldrics and ribbons. We can also be seen at Folk Festivals and Morris gatherings elsewhere in the UK and (very occasionally!) even further afield. Details of our current programme can be found by clicking on the "Programme" link in the main menu at the top of the page.

During the Winter months we practise our existing dances, learn new dances, and teach new members at our base near Crewkerne in Somerset.

How did we begin?

Dr Turberville's Morris was founded in 1982 by a group of enthusiasts who recognised a gap in Crewkerne's cultural heritage. After practising in the Winter of 1082-83, the first public performance was in the Spring of 1983. The Morris team or "side" has continued performing ever since then, with many changes of membership. You can find out more about the people involved - now and in the past - by following the link to "People" in the main menu. Some highlights (and lowlights!) of the side's history are included in this website; some parts are best forgotten! The memorable moments include performances at the Cornish Folk Festival, Wadebridge; touring the Isle of Wight for the IoW Folk Festival; playing hosts to a visiting Morris side from California and our own 10th birthday celebrations. The most memorable event which just never quite seems to happen is our Morris tour of Brittany - one day perhaps?

What is Morris Dancing?

Morris dancing is a traditional, ritual English folk dance form which is now performed in many parts of the World.

There are several major types of Morris, including North West Morris, Border Morris, Molly, Sword, Rapper, and Cotswold Morris. Although different, they all share common factors such as performance as part of a team, wearing brightly - coloured costumes or disguises, often with bells and ribbons attached, and often involving implements such as sticks, handkerchiefs or flowered hoops. The teams dance set movements to the accompaniment of a small band of musicians, and then often barge their way into the nearest bar and take liquid refreshment. Members of the public may be harassed for money "to give good luck" and in serious cases may be dragooned into joining in a dance.

Dr Turberville's Morris is a "Cotswold Morris" team, which means that we dance the style of dances which involve relatively intricate leg movements and much waving of hankies and clashing of sticks.

You can find more information on the origins, history and development of Morris dancing, and links to external Morris - related sites, by following this link to Morris.

Cotswold Morris Traditions

Cotswold Morris dances are generally grouped into different "Traditions" or styles, which are named after the places where they were first collected and written down by the folklorists. Thus we have the well - known Traditions of Bampton, Lichfield and other South Midlands villages. Although the traditions have a lot in common and probably sprang from the same origins, each village seems to have evolved its own style.

Although many modern dancers may perform the same traditions, subtle variations in interpretation often mean that they look quite different. This is the continuing folk process, serving to create the dances of the future!.

Our Traditions

Most of our dances are in the Cotswold Morris Tradition (style) named after the village of Wayford in Somerset, which is close to Crewkerne and (some say) the place where Dr Turberville himself was born. In years past the side has danced in the traditions of Bledington (Gloucestershire) and Bampton (Oxfordshire), Hinton-in-the-Hedges (near Brackely in Northants - not to be confused with Hinton in Gloucestershire, nor yet with any the many Hintons in Somerset) and Ilmington (Warwickshire), and in 2002-5 we danced a hybrid tradition of "Oddingborough" which had some of the characteristics of Oddington, but not perhaps as other sides would recognise it. In 2006-7 the repertoire of Wayford dances was substantially increased and some of the other odds and ends from other traditions were relegated to the dusty back of the repertoire cupboard so that we could concentrate on Wayford, with just a few from Hinton and Bampton.

You can find out more about the traditions we dance, including descriptions of the styles and notes on the dances themselves, by following the links to "repertoire" in the main menu.

What do we wear?

It is not at all certain what Morris dancers wore in days gone by - there are very few illustrations to go by. One of the oldest, a carved panel from Lancaster castle, shows different costumes on each of the figures - and one appears to be a naked woman! Most modern Cotswold sides have been influenced by the costumes which seem to have been worn by the few surviving sides at the start of the 20th Century, which is generally white shirt, dark britches or white trousers that could have been based on cricket flannels. To this costume they usually attach multi - coloured ribbons and bells.

We follow in this "all white" style, wearing white trousers, white socks, white shoes or trainers and white collarless shirts, with baldrics of green and maroon across our chests, and bell pads on our shins which are decorated with green and maroon ribbons. Our kit is finished off with green handkerchiefs and some of us choose to wear top hats or bowlers decked with green and maroon ribbons.

Follow this link for a page with a picture of our kit.

In the early days of Dr Turberville's Morris, the side wore brown corduroy breeches, green socks and brown shoes (as well as other clothes, obviously) but we find the white cooler and more practical, as well as seeming more distinctive.

How can you join?

We practise during the Winter months, September to April, and dance in public mainly in May to August (but we sometimes dance in September or April, and often around Boxing Day so it isn't quite so clear cut). We welcome new dancers and musicians, old and young, experienced or beginner, at any time.

In the Winter, we can be found at The Village Hall, Ash from 8pm until 10pm each Tuesday evening. In the Summer we are out and about on most Tuesday evenings - details can be found by following the link to "Programme" in the main menu. To discuss joining, and for the latest details of our whereabouts, please contact the Foreman (details on the contact page ).

Dr. D'Aubigny Turberville

Our name commemorates Dr. D'Aubigny (or Daubeny) Turberville, an eminent oculist (eye surgeon), and perhaps the most famous recorded son of Crewkerne. He was born in 1612 at Wayford, a small hamlet close to Crewkerne, possibly at Wayford Manor itself, into a notable family which can be traced back to the Norman Conquest. He was educated at Oxford at a time when some of the great men of English science were living and working there. During the Civil War he fought (and apparently distinguished himself - by not getting killed, perhaps?) for King Charles I at the seige of Exeter; with the defeat of the monarchy he was forced to become a country doctor and stayed quietly at Salisbury with his sister, but when the Monarchy was restored he set up a practice which became famous and attracted rich powerful patrons. Amongst his patients were the then Duke of York's daughter (later to become Queen Anne) and the diarist Samual Pepys. He died in 1696 aged 84, and lies buried in Salisbury Cathedral. His plaque (in the West end of the North Aisle reads "the best surgeon that ever lived" - quite a reputation for us to live up to!

Dr. Turberville would almost certainly have known about Morris dancing during his time; historical references to it can be found from the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Whether he would have joined in the dances is another question!!!

Sadly no portrait of Dr Turberville has ever been found, and the illustration we use in our letterhead and logo is a stylised gentleman of his day.

For more about Dr Turberville, follow the link in the main menu.

About Crewkerne

Crewkerne is a small town in South Somerset, in the South West of England.

As the site is developed, more about Crewkerne will be put here, and there will also be links to Crewkerne pages.

For the time being, you should know that there is a fine 15th Century (?) church, dedicated to St Bartholomew; a modern swimming pool, and a Town Hall building (the Victoria Hall) in the centre of the town. Shopping is along the main central streets and also a number of small precincts off the main roads including the George precint next to the George Hotel, and Falkland Square.

And - at last - why do we feature a penguin?

Many morris sides or teams have an animal, often (but not always) a horse. Many sides also have an emblem, a representation of some object or place connected with their home town. In our case, our emblem and animal is a penguin. Can you work out why?

It all links back to our place of origin, i.e. Crewkerne. Crewkerne, like many small towns, has an interesting history (and one day I hope to add a link to a suitable site here); but in a nutshell its prosperity depended on the wool trade in the 15th and 16th centuries. With the coming of the industrial revolution and the development of mill towns in the North of England, sited on fast - flowing rivers providing the source of power, wool as a cottage industry went into decline in Somerset, which although well supplied with waterways (watch out for flooding) has no fast, powerful rivers which could compete with the North.

As the British Empire opened up, many farmers travelled to seek better luck elsewhere, and emigrants from Crewkerne settled in the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, taking their flocks of sheep with them. Crewkerne has retained links with the Falklands ever since, an association which is reflected in the naming of Falkland Square, the shopping centre built in the 1970s.

So, when Dr Turberville's needed an animal mascot, what better than a Falkland Islands Penguin?

In past years, Dr Turberville's have been known to be accompanied on events and outings by a penguin, about 5 ft (1.5m) tall. Sadly, the penguin has been mislaid, doubtless resting in someone's attic, but you can always buy a badge instead.

This page last updated: 19 Oct 2009