Home   Lifestyle   Article

Subscribe Now

In pictures: Merrymaking with 'oomph' at West Berkshire pub



More news, no ads

LEARN MORE


There was quite a gathering for some lunchtime dancing and merrymaking at The Bell at Aldworth on Saturday as the Armaleggan Border Morris side stopped by for a dance-out.

‘Squire’ Nikki Coyne, the leader who speaks for the Cumnor-based side in public, and organiser, music and bag lady Sheila Denley (melodeon) explained that Border is traditionally danced in counties on the English side of the Welsh borders.

Unlike the more familiar (in these parts) Cotswold dancers dressed in white ‘uniform’ waving hankies, Border has a different stepping style - it's more rough and ready but, they say, with a lot more ‘oomph’.

The side are distinguished by their striking make-up, sporting flamboyant pheasant, goose, swan and peacock feathers in their hats that reflect their individual personalities, and colourful tatter coats.

Armaleggan at The Bell picture Geoff Fletcher
Armaleggan at The Bell picture Geoff Fletcher

Nikki and Sheila explained that their distinctive make-up tradition came from the Industrial Revolution, when mill workers would busk to supplement their poor pay in the winter and around Christmas, but had they been recognised, they would lose their jobs, hence the black and white ‘disguise’.

Armaleggan, from Cumnor, are a mixed gender side, boasting 14 musicians and about 40 dancers to call on.

“We gained members in lockdown,” the two Armaleggans said. “We kept going on Zoom throughout. A lot of dancing in the kitchen…”

Armaleggan at The Bell picture Geoff Fletcher
Armaleggan at The Bell picture Geoff Fletcher

From the eldest dancer George, aged 80, to 16-year-old Bertie – although there were even younger family members joining in at the CAMRA pub of the year 2019 on Saturday - “they come from all walks of life, from Oxford professors to tree surgeons to hairdressers”.

The side raises money for local charities through events and collections – in excess of £16,500 since they began. Over recent years have raised more than £1,500 for each of their designated charities – the current one being The Gatehouse, in Oxford, which supports adults over 25 who are homeless, vulnerably housed, on low income and/or looking for company.

Armaleggan at The Bell picture Geoff Fletcher
Armaleggan at The Bell picture Geoff Fletcher
Armaleggan at The Bell picture Geoff Fletcher
Armaleggan at The Bell picture Geoff Fletcher
Armaleggan at The Bell picture Geoff Fletcher
Armaleggan at The Bell picture Geoff Fletcher
Sheila Denley 'music & bag lady' and organiser picture Geoff Fletcher
Sheila Denley 'music & bag lady' and organiser picture Geoff Fletcher
Armaleggan at The Bell picture Geoff Fletcher
Armaleggan at The Bell picture Geoff Fletcher
Armaleggan at The Bell picture Geoff Fletcher
Armaleggan at The Bell picture Geoff Fletcher
Armaleggan at The Bell picture Geoff Fletcher
Armaleggan at The Bell picture Geoff Fletcher
Armaleggan at The Bell picture Geoff Fletcher
Armaleggan at The Bell picture Geoff Fletcher
Armaleggan at The Bell picture Geoff Fletcher
Armaleggan at The Bell picture Geoff Fletcher


This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More