We are Bedfordshire's longest dancing women's Morris Side. Bedfordshire Lace are* a female morris side, with musicians of both sexes, formed in 1981 to dance morris in the 'Cotswold' or 'South Midlands' style.
Our members come from all over the county of Bedfordshire, in the South Midlands of England. We are based in the market town of Ampthill, and dance mainly in the Bedfordshire area - though we go further afield if invited.
Lace-making was an important industry in Bedfordshire before the advent of lace-making machinery, and it employed a large proportion of the women and girls of the county. It is a bobbin lace - hence the bobbin on the logo - in which pleasing patterns are made by weaving in and out, much as in morris dancing!
Our repertoire is based on dances collected in the early C20th from villages in the Cotswolds (hence 'Cotswold' style). We have used the dances of Ilmington as a core, but have adapted them to our own style and have over the years have composed many new dances in the same tradition. We usually have a second tradition which changes from time to time, and this is currently based on the dances of Adderbury; we also have 2 dances in the Lichfield style, which was not collected, but composed in the mid-C20th.
See our programme ! We will usually dance for anybody that asks us if we can, though we do charge a modest fee (contact our Secretary for current rates).
Morris costume - or 'kit' - has never been a historical or 'national' costume and teams have always been free to wear what they chose. In early times the costumes could be very elaborately decorated and expensive; later, they were a version of the dancers' ordinary clothes, decorated with as much ribbon as they could lay their hands on. We made a decision to wear skirts (not all women's sides do) in order to be different from existing local men's sides and chose pink and blue as our colour scheme partly because lace pillows are blue and partly because very few other sides use it.
The waistcoats we have adopted in recent years fortuitously reflect urban Bedfordshire's modern cosmopolitan culture - they are made of kameez material from an Indian dress shop in Bedford
Oh, her - that's our Fool, we have to have one, it's traditional, but we try to keep her out of our way by giving her little jobs to do. Don't believe a word she tells you. (Though if you must, click here for more details )
By all means! If you're a reasonably fit woman or girl and would like to dance with us, or a musician of either sex who would like to play for us, come along to our practices on Tuesday nights at 8 for 8.15, Redborne Upper School, Ampthill, from September to April or contact us (see below).
If you have not danced morris before, you will need to start before Christmas.