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Holme Chapel

This dance, as performed by Rumworth, was interpreted and adapted from a written notation by Fred Hamer. He had copied the notes of Maud Karpeles who he said had been shown the dance by Mr Fred Hanley in March 1938. The notation was found in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library where it had been mistakenly filed under Holmes Chapel, which is in Cheshire. We always believed that the dance was actually from Holme Chapel which is near Burnley and the pages from Fred Hamer’s notebook which contain the notation are now indexed as Holme Chapel Morris, instead of Holmes Chapel. In fact, in Maud Karpeles’ original notes it is clear that she actually collected the dance in Mossley from Fred Hanby (not Hanley) who had previously been the leader of the Mossley Morris Dancers. Despite this, we always refer to the dance as Holme Chapel, not Mossley.

As in the Polka Dance, Holme Chapel’s figures are elegantly simple. In common with many dances in the North West tradition, most of the figures are performed first in pairs and then in fours. Whenever space and numbers allow we love to dance this in a twelve man set.

The chorus movement in the dance consists of Fall Back (like a Step Up in reverse) followed by Step and Turn which is then followed by a figure. This pattern is very common in dances from Lancashire and the figures themselves are the common Lancashire morris figures: Cross Partner, Cross Corner, Swing Partner, Swing Corner and Insides then Cross Partner and Cross Corner are repeated. Interestingly, the cross over figures are danced with polka step while the swings and insides use a walking step. Rumworth always dance the figures in the same order.

Like other traditional dances from the area the dance finishes with Cross Morris, also called “Tickle our Martha” which is performed in pairs and is immediately followed by “Nancy Dawson” which is the same movement but danced in 4’s

Although from this description you'd think the dance was quite simple, the footwork and hand and arm movements make it a difficult dance to learn and perform, as dancers at some of our festival workshops have discovered!

Holme Chapel for 12