Welcome to wightbells.com, the online home of the Wight Bells morris side. On these pages you can find out more about the Bells and our unique dances. We hope you enjoy your time here, and that you'll come back soon for pictures of our engagements, and news about upcoming events, including our world famous Day of Dance!
We are coming to the end of our "Dancing Out" season and will soon be moving indoors to learn some new dances and tunes for 2017. Morris dancing is a great way to exercise and socialise through the winter months. If you would like to come along and meet the team then please get in touch for more details. Practice nights are held in Newport but current members come from all over the Island and so transport is always a possibility depending on where you live. Musicians are always in short supply, so if you play an instrument at home but have never thought of playing in public why not come along and join us for our practise sessions and learn some traditional English tunes.
What a fantastic turnout for Wightbells Barn Dance. Caulkheads did us proud with Steve, our caller, getting everyone up on the floor for a lively evening of dance. There were loads of prizes in the raffle and with your support we managed to donate £250 pounds to the Sophie Rolf Trust "KissyPuppy" Appeal.
Wightbells will be holding a Barn Dance on Saturday 30th January 2016, 19:30-23:00 at the Riverside Centre on Newport Quay. Tickets are just £5 (Chldren £2.50) and you will be dancing to the fabulous Caulkheads Band. Proceeds of the evening will be going to KissyPuppy - The Sophie Rolf Trust.You can always find out where we are dancing in our Wight Bells 2015 programme and now you can also
We have been practising a couple of new dances for next year but might get to try them out early at an extra event that we have just added to our diary. Its Shanklin Christmas Festival, in Shanklin Old Village on the 5th December and we will dancing at about 12:00.
One of our first Thursday evening dance spots and the weather is not particularly good, a bit cold and drizzling with rain. But all is not lost ,a few tables and chairs moved by the Landlord and we are dancing indoors.
What a great evening, the staff of The Griffin Inn were so enthusiastic and even decided to donate the days tips to our worthy charities, Kissy Puppy and Hospice at Home.
We can't wait to visit again and to experience their hospitality and of course the first class beer.
As part of Wight Bells 15th anniversary celebrations, 50 Morris dancers and musicians travelled from the mainland to join 6 Island sides, to take part in Wight Bells’ Annual Day of Dance.
For anyone watching, it was a spectacular sight. Some dancers had blackened faces or masks, others wore boaters or bowlers, and there was an amazing array of brightly coloured costumes of different styles.
The dancers used a selection of staves, bell or ribbon sticks, hankies, pompoms, garlands or slings and performed Border, Clog, Cotswold and North West traditions of Morris dancing. The musicians played various instruments including violin, melodeon, concertina, mandolin and numerous types of drums.
The Day began at Havenstreet Railway, continued on Shanklin seafront, where a massed dance of 50 people took place and ended at the White Lion and the Barns at Arreton. Here a final massed dance for all 11 sides was held in the Courtyard of the Dairyman’s Daughter.
As usual, Wight Bells enjoyed excellent weather for the event and their collections supported Kissy Puppy and Hospice at Home.
We are rapidly coming to the end of our season of "dancing out" and after a short break we will be thinking about returning to our Thursday night practice sessions in Newport and the challenge of learning some new dances.
If you would like to try Morris dancing why not make get in touch via the contacts page or simply ask for more details when you see us out and about. The side is open to all ages but you should be reasonably fit and expect a good work out as you get more familiar with the dances.
If you don't want to dance but can play an instrument then why not come along and join the band.
Friday was an early start but we boarded the Fishbourne ferry in high spirits and with passports at the ready we began our journey towards Folkestone and the channel tunnel. The coach drove on to the train just before lunch time and having an empty carriage in front of us it seemed like the ideal opportunity to stretch our legs with an impromptu dance display for our slightly bemused fellow travellers.
We arrived in Calais and headed south in the brilliant sunshine to arrive early evening in Honfleur, our base for the weekend, across the dramatic bridges at Pont de Normandie.
On Saturday we spent a couple of hours in Honfleur browsing around the vibrant weekly street market before boarding our coach for the drive to Rouen and an opportunity for shopping and sightseeing.
At teatime we joined a local dance group, Polka & Reverence, who perform dances from the 1900 era and wear fantastic period costumes. We spent several hours dancing together and had great fun as the pictures on their website will show.
On Sunday we drove to Giverny and a visit to the colourful gardens of Claude Monet.
Our journey back took us through the picturesque Normandy countryside, stopping for an amble along the streets and river bank of La Seine at Le Petit Andely and a drive though Venables!
The evening was spent in Honfleur and another impromptu dance on the quay side was most enjoyable.
Monday and we are heading home with a visit to Boulogne and Cap Gris Nez on the way.
What a great weekend which was made extra special by our superb hosts Bob and Linda who are Kardan Travel.
Come and join Wight Bells for their next Barn Dance with the fabulous Bismarck's band at the Riverside Centre on Newport Quay.
Saturday 5th April 2014 from 19:30 - 23:30
Dancing to The Bismarck's
Riverside Centre on Newport Quay(Licenced Bar)
Adults £7.50 Children £2.50
For tickets Tel: Judith 401685 or Judy 520160
Proceeds to KissyPuppy - The Sophie Rolf Trust
Andy’s All Stars played for the Wight Bells Burns Night Barn Dance held on 25 January 2014 at Northwood WI hall. The evening was well attended with plenty of good dancing with a very proficient caller in Ann Stiles. The evening was in memory of Wight Bell Chris Waughman who died in 2012 and it was lovely to have her family with us for the evening. The top raffle prize was a quilt that Chris had sewn which was won by a lady who was thrilled to receive it. Mark Mordey of Moonshine Border Morris gave ‘The address to a Haggis’ in full Scottish regalia with haggis and also donated all the ingredients for a Haggis Supper as a raffle prize. The proceeds of just over £600 will go to the ‘The Hospice at Home’ service which looked after Chris so well. A big thank you to those who gave their time for free. To the band, caller and all other helpers and those who donated raffle prizes.
Come and Join Wight Bells for their Burns Night Barn Dance.
Saturday 25th January 2014 from 7pm - 10.30pm
Dancing to Andy's All Stars
Northwood W.I. Hall (Opposite The Horseshoe Inn)
Adults £5, Children £2.50
Tickets from Judith 401685 or Judy 520160
Proceeds to ‘Hospice at Home’
Wight Bells Famous Day of Dance will take place on Sunday 1st September 2013. You can join us and perhaps join in at the following venues:-
10:30 - 12:00 at The Isle of Wight Steam Railway at Havenstreet.
12:45 - 14:30 on Shanklin Seafront near The Steamer Inn.
15:30 - 17:30 at Arreton Old Village.
We will be joined by Quayside Clog, Red Stags, Bourne River, Fleet and Sarum from the mainland and our own Island sides, Oyster Girls, Men of Wight, Island Cloggies and Guith.
It's getting close to the end of the dancing season so if you fancy a go at Morris Dancing or playing an instrument then it's just the right time to talk to any of the sides about where they practice over the winter months.
Tulips in Amsterdam or rather Keukenhouf!
The last time the Wight Bells went ‘foreign’ was in 2002 to Brugge and Gent to take part in their Cultural City of Europe festival in 2002 and we thought it time to stretch our legs again. This time we decided upon Holland for no better reason than it is flat, compared to the Island which is very hilly!
Having piled into the coach from our hotel in Lelystad on the Saturday morning in the pouring rain to travel to Amsterdam to dance, we were very relieved to find the rain had passed over when arriving in the city. Being a Bank Holiday Amsterdam was heaving with people, not to mention buses, coaches trams and hundreds of bicycles, but we picked our way towards Dam Square to dance.
Those that gathered in the Square to watch probably found our costumes rather striking as we wear denim pinafore dresses over a lime green tee shirt and lime green tights, just so we don’t get lost in the crowd! Once our musicians had negotiated with the two local police who were not happy for us to use a drum (help, no steady beat!), they decided to leave us to it to ‘beat the bounds’ of their patch. The cobbles looked lethal to dance on in clogs, especially as they were wet, but were surprisingly okay. The multi national crowd were very enthusiastic so we entertained them for half and hour before asking for volunteers to join us for our last dance. This is a Side tradition and is a fitting end to a session as those that take part always enjoy themselves even if our comparatively easy dance ends in mayhem. Everyone goes away happy.
The rest of the day was very leisurely with a canal trip being popular to get out of the damp and cold and just generally browsing around the lanes, sightseeing and obviously enjoying the local hostelries.
Sunday was a mass of colour, very different to grey Saturday, as we spent a few hours at the International Flower Exhibition at Keukenhouf, "the most beautiful spring park in the world." Seven million new flower bulbs planted each year – we counted them all! You run out of superlatives after a while, it was just an amazing uplifting place to be.
In the afternoon we did the sightseeing bit by being driven from LIsse up to what used to be the Lake Zuider Zee which is now two smaller lakes of Ijsselmeer and Markermeer being split by a 13 mile dyke from Enkhuizen to Lelystad, quite an engineering feat. An interesting drive. We donned our dance gear to entertain visitors at the Batavia Boat Museum and shopping complex before returning to Lelystad to enjoy a well earned dinner. The evening finished with an impromptu Barn Dance to celebrate a party member’s 70th birthday and a good weekend.
Wight Bells have managed to book the fabulous "Polkaworks" for their next Barn Dance.
The Barn Dance will be held on 31st March 2012 at The Riverside Centre on Newport Quay ( opposite the Bargemans Rest ).
If you have never been to a Barn Dance or ceilidh then don't worry it's great fun and this is how it works. Dancers form up on the floor and "the Caller" walks you slowly through the different moves. Once everyone is happy the music starts and the Caller reminds you of the moves as the dance progresses. After a couple of times through and everyone gets the hang of it then you are on your own.
Come along and enjoy a social evening where seasoned dancers and beginners alike can learn dances from our experienced caller.
The fun starts at 19:30 through to 23:30 and tickets are £7.50 for adults and £2.5 for children.
You can get tickets by calling Brenda on 883385 or Judy on 520160, or buy them on the door Adults £9.00 and Children £3.00.
The Riverside Centre has a licensed bar.
The Wight Bells welcomed Boghoppers and Bushbeaters, New Forest Meddlars, Sarum and Wickham Morris Sides and Devils Jump Clog from "England" to join them for their Day of Dance. Unusually the weather was a bit damp although we all enjoyed an energetic dance session at Rookley Country Park to start the day off.
The lunch time spot was on Shanklin Sea Front, which has become a bit of a tradition, to entertain the holiday makers and locals. The Island Cloggies also joined us with a scratch team to boost the clog dancing. We battled the elements and gave a good account of ourselves before performing a mass dance to finish the display. Dennis from Sarum Morris taught us a different version of Fanny Frail, which some of us mastered quite well and others not so well, but hey, it was great fun.
On arrival at Arreton Old Village we were all relieved to see the sun out and the Sides were split between The Dairyman's Daughter and The White Lion to enable all Sides to maximise the dance time and give the spectators a choice of venue. To finish all Sides danced Stickworth in the Courtyard at The Dairyman's Daughter and a good time was had by all.
Our thanks go to all the Sides from "England", musicians and dancers and of course our local Side that joined us. Look forward to seeing you in 2011.
On Sunday 6th September Wight Bells Morris Dancers are celebrating their 10th
Anniversary with a Day of Dance. Altogether there will be 4 Sides from the Island, Island Cloggies, Morris Mynah's, Oyster Girls and Wight bells and 7 Sides from the Mainland, Alton Morris, Boghoppers and Bushbeaters, Hobos Border Morris, Magog Morris, New Forest Meddlars, Sarum Morris, and Treacle Eater Clog, dancing during the day.
Proceedings commence at IW Steam Railway at Havenstreet Station at 10.30am and 11.45am.
Between 1.00pm and 3.00pm we will be dancing on Shanklin Sea Front.
From 3.30pm to 5.30pm we will finish the day's dancing at The White Lion in Arreton and on the courtyard at The Dairyman's Daughter at Arreton Barns Craft Village.
Costumes are very varied and interesting and the dance styles vary from Northwest Clog, Cotswold, Border, Garland and Stave. It is all great fun, so do come and watch and there may also be an opportunity to join in!
Collections will be made for the local branch of Marie Curie Cancer Care.
Morrison is not just a local friendly grocers's shop
It's the shout of the Men of Wight Morris as they start to hop.
Leather straps, silver buckles and bells a jingling
With hankies flopping, they set many a Wight maid's heart a tingling.
The Wight Bells ladies promenade two by two
In lime green stockings and dresses of blue.
In rows of three they advance in steps of four
Holding sticks in the right hand, they reverse to the start once more.
Spinning and twirling pom poms of white
Cracking hazel sticks to the left and the right.
A full reel of three across and around
They repeat the do-si-do, garland up, garlands down.
Repetitive sixteen bar tunes accompany the ladies' fun
Melodeon,drum, accordion,fiddle and bodrun.
Ruffled shirts, waistcoats,breeches, stockings and a bowler hat
Visitors hold up their phones to take pictures of the musicians dressed like that.
Everyone smiles when they're stamping and dancing in clogs and a pretty dress.
Twirling and burling - it's healthy exercise and gets rid of stress.
Dancers claim it's the most fun you can have with your clothes on.
So join in when you hear the shout - "MORRIS ON".
A great observation from Mark Mordey.
And for more local poetry why not visit hightide poets.
A big thankyou to all the Wightbells both past and present and all our friends and guests who made our party so enjoyable. A special thanks to our squire who has led us into our 10th year and the members and friends who decorated the room, baked cakes and entertained us with music. The Wightbells gave a demonstration of the first dance that they performed 10 years ago in Bembridge (Steyne Cross danced to the tune Jumping Joan) and the latest dance that is new for the 2009 season (Freshwater danced to the Pearl Wedding). The team put great energy into the dance, or is it that the music is still to fast? The evidence is in the the gallery...
The sky was grey as we drove towards Swanage for the start of the annual Folk Festival. The forecast was not good but with fingers crossed we settled in and enjoyed the Friday night concerts and sessions in the pubs. Saturday proved to be damp and windy but we managed to avoid the worst of the weather and were still able to dance at all our spots. The weather improved throughout the day and the procession was a great success. Sunday was much brighter especially for the church service ( someone must have had a word! ). The afternoon spots were well supported and the dedicated musicians managed to play on into the evening. If Carlsberg did Folk Festivals then they would probably pick Swanage ( but not if they saw the number or empty real ale barrels at the back of the The Red Lion.
Treacle Eater Clog invited us to join them and help to celebrate their 25th anniversary and what a great weekend it was. Four coach loads of dancers set out from Yeovil across the Somerset countryside and stopped to dance at towns and villages on their way to the south coast. The evenings were spent dancing, singing, playing music and socializing.
When a member of our side said that The Earl Mountbatten Hospice had arranged for the World's Biggest Bike to come to the Island, and that we should take part, we were all sold on the idea not knowing what we had let ourselves in for. As time went bye we learnt more about the other teams including cycling professionals and burly firemen and we started to wonder if we had done the right thing. The day arrived and we gathered at Sandown seafront, around this monster of a bike wondering if dresses were in fact the best decision of the day. We set off in good spirit with the musicians in full flow, along the parade and up the High Street. As the hill got steeper the music gradually subsided as more effort went into propelling the two ton monster up the hill. As we approached Pier Street our energy was channelled into reaching the top of the hill but suddenly, with a mixture of exhilaration, trepidation, and sheer excitement we lurched into a knuckle biting turn down to the Esplanade. I'm not sure if the next stop was
planned or if everyone needed a rest but an impromptu dance session on the seafront was appreciated by the public and helped to fill the collecting boxes. A concerted effort saw us back on the parade, music again in full swing as we headed home. Our Sponsorship alone raised over �700 and we are proud to have taken part in this prestigious event. We have some pictures of the bike ride here in our archive and you can also find some in the Island Pulse magazine.
A big thank you to everyone who joined us for our Day of Dance and made it such a success, especially Treacle Eater Clog,
Devils Jump Clog,
Bourne River Morris. and The Oyster Girls. Did you miss it? It's near to the end of the dancing season so why not contact your local side and get involved with a practice season ready for next year!
"Cleckheaton" where's that? a few were heard to say. It was found to be almost 250 miles up country slightly south of Leeds and Bradford with it's own Folk Festival in it's 20th year! Can't be bad, so we booked to go to take a little Isle of Wight sunshine to a rather wet area of the country, the first weekend in July.
The dance festival commenced on the Saturday with a procession of dance sides through the town to the Town Hall to announce our arrival. Our first spot was on the green opposite the Town Hall where we performed to a large crowd of locals along with Sgt. Musgrave's Dance who dance the North West tradition, as we do, and Kirkburton Rapier; before moving off to dance at other venues.
In the afternoon the Wickham Arms Hotel hosted the dance competition for the prestigious "Wickham Dance Cup" and the Wight Bells decided to promote our seaside and danced Newchurch, a square dance for eight, swapping our bell sticks for a stick of rock in one hand and a bucket and spade in the other, while the musician were seen to dispense with their socks and shoes, roll their trousers up and put a green knotted handkerchief on the heads! I think most of the audience got the plot and we duly beat off the other dance sides to win the "Wickham Dance Cup".
Sunday was "Family Fun Day" and we invited some of the audience, children and adults, to join us in a stick dance when we finished our display. This always goes down well.
There was a mixture of very good local and national folk music and song going on around the town during the weekend including the Demon Barber Road Show, Vin Garbutt and Cherish the Ladies to name but a few.
We had a little rain, were very well received, the hospitality was great and the natives friendly and we were able to promote the Island to boot and had an enjoyable time! Do we go back next year to defend the Wickham Dance Cup we shall see.
Well not really but we have got an article in the Isle of Wight Tourist Guide. The article features some pictures of the Wight Bells and of course the site has a vast amout of Island information of interest to Caulkheads and Visitors alike.
Take a look at this article in the local County Press, by Chris Philipsborn, about Morris Dancing on the Isle of Wight.
Especially if its at Weymouth! After a busy day of dancing there is nothing better than cooling off in the sea. Take a look at some of the pictures in our new style gallery.
The dance season has started early for us this year with The Fat Cat> beer festival in March, St Georges Day and Bourne River Morris Day of Dance at Poole in April.. Regular Thusday night pub spots started last month (see the programme) after the traditional May Day celebrations at The Dairymans Dautghter at Arreton Old Village and Barns.
The Wight Bells, Oyster Girls, Men of Wight and Island Cloggies made a huge impression on the unsuspecting French when we demonstrated our dance and musical heritage in Saint Malo recently. The opportunity arose when we took part in 'Folklores du Monde' a celebration of folk traditions from around the world. This years festival coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Tall Ships race and so we also danced around the old town and took part in the grand parade of over 2500 crew from the ships. According to the local papers 'Les troupes folkloriques ont apporte de la couleur et de la rigueur au defile.' which I guess is a good thing. I suppose we will find out if we are asked back next year! A special thanks to Janet and Emile for looking after us and for your hospitality.
We joined O.B.J. Border Morris, Alvechurch Morris, Dr Turbeville, Frome Valley, Festus Derriman, The Wild Hunt Bedlum Morris and Beetlecrusher for a great day out in Weymouth. We didn't manage to dance with all the sides but those we did you will find some pictures in the gallery
As well as the list of events for The Wight Bells our website now has links to the programmes for The Men of Wight, The Oyster Girls and Mr Baker's Dozen. Now there's no excuse not to enjoy yourself whilst supporting these local groups and there chosen charities (you may even get to join in!).
Of course if it's folk music that your after you can always bring an instrument or your voice to The Dairyman's Daughter, at Arreton every Tuesday evening from about 9pm or from midday onwards at The Portland in Gurnard on the last Sunday of the month.
If your thinking of holding your own Barn Dance or Ceilidh then get in touch with The Caulkheads and arrange a truly amazing evening.
Those that were hardy enough and early rising climbed Mottistone Down before dawn and gathered together at the "Long Stone" to witness the sunrise. Celebrations ensued for the coming of spring and the lengthening of the day as the year began it's renewal. At noon, those with energy left, repaired to The Dairyman's Daughter at Arreton where there was seen much dancing, singing and taking of ale. Although most folk had a stick in one hand and a tankard in the other, we did manage to take a few pictures which can be found in the gallery!
We're looking forward to using this website to show pictures of recent events and to keep everyone up to speed with the activities that we have planned for the next year. We'll be adding more sections to the site over the next few weeks, including updates to our summer programme for 2005, so please check back soon. If you have any ideas or comments about the site then please let us know by using the form on the contacts page.
Wightbells Day of Dance
at Havenstreet Station,
Sandown Zoo and finally
Arreton Old Village and Barns.
And for more events see the Wight Bells 2016 programme
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