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Library Lecture: How Percy Manning saved morris dancing by Mike Heaney

  • Date: 16th Jan 2019
  • Cecil Sharp House
  • Organiser: EFDSS
  • Website

“Cecil Sharp’s encounter with the Headington Quarry Morris Dancers on Boxing Day 1899 is famous, but it did not spring out of nothing, and would probably not have happened at all if it hadn’t been for Percy Manning, the first serious researcher into morris dancing. The talk will describe how he revived the Quarry dancers as the culmination of a decade-long journey of investigation and discovery, which underlies a lot of what we now know about the history of the dancing.

Percy Manning was an Oxford antiquary interested in all aspects of life in his county. He was a respected expert in local archaeology and history, but expanded his range into social history, custom, folklore and dialect. With the aid of his indefatigable agent Thomas Carter, he quartered the county looking for survivals of dying aspects of social life and custom, at first with an emphasis on collecting material remains but then turning to the more intangible aspects. He left his collections to the University of Oxford, where they now reside in its museums and libraries.

Manning died in 1917, and the centenary of his death in 2017 was the stimulus for a lot of research into his life and work. While focusing on the morris, the talk will place it within the wider context uncovered by the latest studies.

Mike Heaney is musician for Eynsham Morris, and has been researching morris dancing and its history for over forty years. He is the author of the Library’s Introductory Bibliography on Morris Dancing, and over 50 other pieces, including Annals of Early Morris (with John Forrest), Bedlam Morris, and the Dictionary of National Biography entries for, among others, William Kimber, Jinky Wells, Cecil Sharp and Percy Manning. In 2017 he organised and co-ordinated exhibitions, events and study days devoted to Manning in Oxford, and edited and part-authored the centenary work Percy Manning: The Man Who Collected Oxfordshire. In 2018 he edited and contributed to The Histories of Morris, the proceedings of the 2017 conference organised by the EFDSS in conjunction with the Historical Dance Society. He is currently working on a general history of morris dancing.”