Abbots Bromley Horn Dance 2021, UK
One of the longest surviving medieval rituals in England, the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance has been performed in a village in Staffordshire since 1226. The 2020 Abbots Bromley Horn Dance was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Horn Dance Ritual
The folk dance consists of six deer dancers, a fool, a bowman, a hobby horse and Maid Marian – all played by men, including the fair maiden. They dance to music played on a melodeon, which is a form of accordian, around the village of Abbots Bromley, as well as nearby farms and most importantly pubs.
History of the Horn Dance
It was first performed at the Barthelmy Fair in 1226. Then six costumed men would dance carrying reindeer antlers around the village.
When is the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance?
Nowadays, the dance is always held on Wakes Monday, which is the Monday that follows the first Sunday subsequent to 4 September. In 2021, this falls on 6 September.
As befits such an occasion, preparations for the Horn Dance start early, around 7am at St Nicholas Church. After a blessing the procession sets off at 8am, always adopting the same 10-mile circuit around the village and its surrounds. Stalls selling local crafts as well as exhibitions will be on display at the village green and church. The dancers return to the church sometime about 8.30pm.
A schedule of the route, including all the pubs the dancers visit, can be found here. There will be off-road parking around the village, although special parking restrictions will be in place on the day.
Apparently the dance has only once been cancelled. That was some time in the 1920s when the musician was ill, and a dancer died.
Things to Do in Abbots Bromley and Surrounds
The village of Abbots Bromley is pleasant in itself, with an ancient church and half-timbered houses that are typical of the area.
The Goat’s Head, a 16th-century pub in the village – and one of the venues for the dance – has a room named after Dick Turpin, the infamous highwayman. He is alleged to have stayed here after stealing his horse Black Bess from the nearby horse fair at Rugeley.
Whilst in the area, make sure you pop into see Lichfield Cathedral and the National Memorial Arboretum, two of the most underated attractions in the country.
For further details of the Horn Dance
For things to do in Staffordshire
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