Keeping England's heritage alive in Kent!
The Wadard Morris Men were formed in Farningham in 1977 when The Hartley Morris men left the Pied Bull for Wrotham. Several members of the club who were also members of Skinners Rats were using a recording studio at the Pied Bull and not wishing to loose this facility, they decided to stay in Farningham. The Founder members were Pete Hicks and his father Tom, Barrie Laing, Pete "Blossom" Currie. They were joined by John Kelly, John Studley, Tim Ash, Andrew and Roger Hearn, Julian Audsley, and Dave Grabham, Of these, only John Kelly, is still a dancing member. [October 2011] The side practised and first danced at The Coach House, at The Pied Bull Farningham, Kent (England). The first Wadard Morris Ale was also held at the Coach House.
The Name of Wadard was taken from the Bayeux Tapestry Wadard is not a place, but the name of one of the knights mentioned by name and was the first lord of the manor of Farningham.
Our badge is based on the depiction of Wadard on the Bayeux Tapestry and is also used as the the design of the weather-vane on the village hall at Farningham . Wadard and his land-holdings in Kent are also mentioned in the domesday survey.
Over the past 35 years we have regulary danced at Pubs throughout the Darent Valley during the summer months. We can be seen dancing at Dawn 0532 at Eynsford Ford each year on May 1st. This has become "traditional" event always watched by an enthusiastic audience who come for the dancing, singing and in recent years our charity "Duck Race", and of course our hospitality.
In May 1987 Wadard Morris Men were invited to take part in the May Queen's procession in the village of Offham. This has become a 'traditional' booking. With one or two exceptions we have led the procession through the village every year since.
In 1988 The Wadard Moris Men side were admitted to the Morris Ring, sponsored by Boar's Head Morris Men and Green Oak Morris Men from Yorkshire. We danced in at the Thaxted Ring-Meeting in June dancing' Highland Mary', from the Ascott-under-Wychwood tradition, accompanied on the melodeon by Adrian Thorogood, then 13 years old. Since then we have attended Ring Meetings around the country almost every year since. In March 1995 and again in 2008 WMM hosted the Morris Ring ARM (Annual Representatives Meeting) in Meopham, Kent. In 2011 we attended the meeting to celebrate the Centenary of Thaxted Morris Men
The Wadard Morris Men have travelled around the country as guests of many other clubs dancing in very many places making and meeting many friends, The Saddleworth Rushcart Festival based in Uppermill near Oldham and hosted By The Saddleworth Morris Men, is an event where Wadard are regularly represented and often have a full dancing side.
Over the years the Wadard Morris Men have fostered relationships with dance clubs in Belgium have travelled to Belgium on about 10 occasions for visits to Lendelede and Bornem, and have hosted the De Speleman folkdance group from Bornem near Antwerp on about 5 occaisions.
The side has appeared three times on television (not including repeats).The first was in 1983 (?) in a program "The Pilgrim's Way in June" part of a series "Country Ways" made for TV South and recorded at the "Chequers"at Heaverham. The second, unscheduled, was a clip of amateur video shown in "You've been Framed" in which one of our members slipped dramatically and inelegantly during a display on loose gravel at a local school fete. The third was an appearance in "Surprise, surprise!" with Cilla Black.
Wadard Morris Men have always held a Christmas Carol evening. Originally held in one of the local pubs and consisting of Carols and a performance by the Wadard Mummers. In 2000 we decided to hold "Carols by Torchlight" at the Ford at Eynsford followed by more carols, songs, stories and of course the mummers play back at Horton Kirby Village Hall, for the first year only. This proved to be very popular with the local residents of Eynsford and has been continued every year since at Eynsford Village Hall with the exception of 2009 when heavy snow caused the event to be cancelled. All performances are by Friends of Wadard Moris men, many of them members local morris dance clubs.
In 2004 Wadard Moris Men ventured into the recording studio to produce our first music CD Hic Est Wadard. (Actually the back room of a pub where one of our number was acting as stand in landlord). All the songs from the CD can be heard regularly on Wednesday evenings when we are out on our weekly tours during the summer months. The CD is now sold out
Last updated: 8th Oct 2011 - AJH