Meet the side…

Merrydowners Day of Dance, London 2015

Name: Sue

Role: Foreman

Joined: 1985

How I Joined: I started Morris Dancing in 1978 – When I joined Phoenix Morris it was 1985.

Originally my husband Michael Stimpson was responsible for me joining The Morris. When he started Morris I said “ If you think I am going to do that, think again !” In 1978 I was set up one evening to attend a practice of Lord Pagets Morris a female Border Side, I never looked back.

I started as a musician with Phoenix Morris in 1985 when they were a male only Side. Then in 1987 Phoenix went mixed – partly my influence- much to the annoyance of many single sex Sides at the time. So I became a dancer. We persevered and grew from strength to strength to where we are today – a popular well established Morris Side.

The Cricketers, Sarrat 1985

First Dance Out:First ever dance out with Lord Pagets Morris up at Dawn on May Morning 1979 on Uxbridge Common.

First dance out with Phoenix Morris as a mixed Side May morning 1987 Cassiobury Park with Pump House Clog followed by breakfast back at the Pump House in Watford .

Favourite Morris Memory: There are so many over the years. One that comes to mind is dancing a very lively Upton upon severn Stick Dance on the glass tiled stage at the Britain’s got Talent Studio. We had huge cheers from the acts waiting to audition, I was buzzing with pride.

Britain’s Got Talent 2018

Another memory that comes to mind a few years ago was spending a weekend dancing in Viry France organised by Merrydowners Morris. We all had a wonderful weekend.

Favourite Dance: I might be biased but I love Phoenix Waves one of our own dances, followed closely by Upton upon Severn Stick.

Meet the side…

Swanage Folk Festival, 2018

Name: Karen

Role: Deputy Foreman

Joined: 1989…..30 years ago this autumn!!

How I Joined: I joined at the suggestion of the then foreman, who I was working with. She was quite persuasive and my husband at the time danced with another side and I could see the fun that could be had, so wanted to try it for myself.

First dance out: Mmmm now there’s a question!
I think it was at an ale in Maidenhead but it was 30 years ago nearly, can’t quite remember!!

Favourite Morris Memory: At the end of a lot of dancing at Swanage Festival Phoenix celebrates by dancing in the sea. A couple of years ago one member tripped and fell in, losing her hat and getting thoroughly soaked. Caused great laughter with us and members of the public watching.

Swanage Folk Festival, 2014

Favourite Dance: Upton on Severn Stick Dance.

Meet the side…

Three Horseshoes, Winkwell 2019

Name: Jo and Ian

Role: dancers

Joined: 2018

How we joined: We joined after several years of Jo procrastinating about it… Ian thought he would support Jo, probably thinking it wouldn’t last 😁

Living in Rickmansworth means we’ve seen Phoenix dancing at many local events. We have also known Sue (foreman) and Mike’s (Squire) daughter for many years so were aware of Phoenix through her. Ricky folk festival last year was when we first started talking about joining and we finally joined after the open evening on Wed 24th October 2018.

Thank you to everyone for making us feel welcome and having patience with us ‘old’ learners

Pirton, 2019

First dance out: Pirton may day in 2019

Favourite morris memory: dancing with chopsticks at the Coach and Horses Christmas meal.

Favourite dance: Ian – The Stomp. Jo – South Australia.

As we learn more this may well change.

Meet the side…

Lyon, France 2010

Name: Toni (Hobbit)

Role: Dancer


Why do they call you Hobbit?: I was given the name Hobbit by Mike our Squire, once when we were dancing with another side that also had a very small women dancer like me. Mike dragged me over to measure us both to see who was the smallest and it was me. Mike then called out loudly our Hobbit is smaller than your Hobbit and the name seemed to stick to me after that. So that’s what most people in Phoenix call me. I think some of them don’t even know my real name.

How I joined: Whilst I was working for Hillingdon Libraries back in Summer 1999 a colleague told me that she was a Morris Dancer and that she was dancing at Batchworth Lock on the Saturday, and asked me if I would like to come and watch her dance. I came to watch as it sounded like fun and from that moment I was hooked. I have always danced since a child, tap and ballet and modern jazz etc. but this was something new to me. I came along to a couple of practices on the Wednesday at the scout hut in Rickmansworth, but I had a problem as I was due to start teaching Genealogy at Adult Education in Richmond in September which was also on a Wednesday evening and I couldn’t be in two places at once. So, I came along to practices during the term breaks when I wasn’t teaching, but couldn’t come in term time. In Jan 2000 I didn’t get enough students enrol, as they had raised the number required to 15 per class and I only had 12 so my class was dropped. Which meant that I could now spend my Wednesday evenings practicing Morris Dancing.

First Dance Out: My first dance out was in February 2000 at Cheltenham Festival and I couldn’t drive up there until the Friday evening until I had finished work at the Library. The weather was pretty foul; it was dark and I found myself driving up to Cheltenham in thick fog, which was pretty scary. But on the Saturday when we were actually dancing the weather wasn’t too bad and I also took part in a workshop showing people the basics of Morris Dancing. I didn’t have a full kit just a plain waistcoat without a back badge and a few small badges that people had given me, a striped shirt, breeches and socks and a hat with a few flowers.

Wild Hunt Day of Dance, London 2018

Favourite Morris Memory: well, I’ve got two really special ones. First one was in Broadstairs on the promenade when I was presented with my bells. I was so excited I didn’t want to take them off when we finished and the Squire always says “Bells off Phoenix” I just kept jumping up and down to make lots of noise. Broadstairs is one of my Favourite Folk Festivals as there is so much going on, lots of workshops, concerts and Ceilidhs etc.

My other really good Morris Memory was when Phoenix were invited to dance at Lyon in France, we were made to feel very welcome by the local people and they gave us a big tea party with lots of cakes.

Favourite Dance: This is quite hard to choose as there are lots of good dances that I enjoy. I’ll say ‘Postman’s Knock’ but I also really like ‘Worcestershire Monkey’

Meet the side…

Oxford Folk Festival 2016

Name: Kate

Role: Deputy Squire and E-officer

Joined: 2011

How I joined: I had seen some Morris dancers at a local festival and thought it looked fun and a good distraction from studying for my Masters degree! I contacted Phoenix because at the time they were the closest side to me who would accept women.

Once I started I never looked back! In fact I have since joined 2 other sides

First Dance Out: New Years Day parade in central London. It rained A LOT but we had such an amazing time both in the parade and then afterwards dancing in local pubs.

Favourite Morris memory: Dancing with Phoenix in my wedding dress at our wedding reception. Sue (Foreman) had even written us a special dance, ‘Marriage Lines’ to a tune called ‘haste to the wedding’. Phoenix did an arch of sticks as we left the church and it made our day so special.

Wedding 2018

Favourite Dance: Stomp Hankie