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Beer, Banter and Spreading the Magic of Morris: Ashdown Forest Morris Men

Ashdown Forest Morris Men

In 1972, a group of like-minded, young men got together at East Grinstead Rugby Football Club to learn the quintessential art of Morris dancing, carry on the English tradition and most importantly, have a good time!

Now, some 44 years later, the side (the technical term for a team of Morris dancers) are looking for new members to grab their hankies, pick up their sticks and get involved.

We caught up with Matt Beard from the Ashdown Forest Morris Men to Uncover all about this interesting local group…

Why and when did you personally join?
I joined four years ago at the age of 39. Morris dancing is something I’ve always wanted to do. I grew up in Forest Row and remember seeing Morris dancing as a child. When I settled back in Forest Row in my late 30’s it was time to join!


Why do you think it is so important for others to carry on this longstanding tradition?
This fine English tradition has been in existence for at least 500 years. It is part of our cultural, social and industrial heritage. Morris dancing has transcended class having, at various points in our history, been performed by all classes of society. It has survived world wars where Morris side were decimated as the men of the villages were sent away to fight, never to return. Over the centuries Morris dancing has seen periods of decline and periods of resurgence. Society has changed significantly over the past 500 years but the magic of the Morris has always found its place. And long may it continue!

Can anyone join you?
Yes! We are looking for men of all ages, no previous dancing or musical experience is required. As long as you can hop from one foot to the other, count to about eight and find your way to the bar then you have all the skills required to become a Morris dancer!

Membership of Ashdown Forest Morris is like being a member of a rugby, football or cricket club. We are serious about dancing and we are serious about having a good time too.

When we’re not dancing we don’t take ourselves too seriously; the beer flows as does the banter.

What does the group have in store for 2016?
One of the most important days in the Morris calendar is 1st May. Morris sides up and down the country rise at dawn to dance the sun up and to bring good luck and fertility for the year ahead. Ashdown Forest Morris Men are no exception to this. Along with the ladies of Shalesbrook Morris, we dance at sunrise at The Enchanted Place, also known as the A.A Milne and E.H Shephard Memorial, in Ashdown Forest. In spite of the 5am start we always attract a good crowd!

Inspired to join?
Visit: to find out more!

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