Ragged Crow Morris Dancers
Available now to dance at your event
Ragged Crow Morris Dancers carry on the traditional English custom of Morris Dancing and we would love to come dance at your festival/fair/pub/house/convention.  Contact us  to find out more.  

If you think you would enjoy joining our morris side why not contact us now, it's a great way to keep fit as well as carry on an ancient tradition.  You will need a sense of rhythm, a sense of humour and a willingness to practice every week so that we can put on a great show when we dance in public.

Currently we have 10 dancers, some with a background of morris dancing in England, and 5 musicians who play English concertina, accordion, bodhran, drums and recorder.

Drop us a note if you think you may be interested in having us at your event or in joining our merry group.

Note: Ragged Crow Morris no longer uses full face black paint. We endorse the UK's Joint Morris Organisation's statement on blackface.

"Our traditions do not operate in a vacuum. While no morris dancer wants to cause offence, we must recognise that full-face black or other skin tone makeup is a practice that has the potential to cause deep hurt.
Morris is a living tradition and it is right that it has always adapted and evolved to reflect society. ......
The UK Joint Morris Organisations, comprising The Morris Federation, The Morris Ring and Open Morris 3rd July 2020"

Full statement
We are an energetic group that practice every week during the winter and spring and dance out most weekends during the summer.   We get booked to dance at school and community fairs and other events around the region where we encourage audience participation.  

For extra effect and drama at night time performances we sometimes use flaming torches ....all good fun.  

Dancing in front of an audience is hard work so when the dancers are getting their breath back our talented musicians can take over and play a wide variety of music to entertain when the dancers are resting.
 When we don't have an organised booking we take ourselves off on a bit of a tour of the region and dance on open street spaces, pubs, parks and anywhere that people might stop and have a look.

Where do our dances come from?

We dance at least two traditions;  Cotswold dances which are based on dances from specific villages in the Cotswold area of England, many of these were collected by CJ Sharp in the early part of the 20th century. The other tradition we dance is border tradition from the Welsh/English border country, all of the border dances we perform are contemporary dances loosely based on this tradition. We have also dabbled in Molly Dancing, a form of Morris from Cambridgeshire

All of this means we need to have a lot of gear to cart around when we go away on tour but it just adds to the fun and means we can join in with lots of other groups who may be dancing
Roger and Jan dancing in the Ragged Crow cotswold kit of black trousers, white shirt and waistcoat.
Have a look at the gallery page for more pictures
Here we are dancing in the Ragged Crow border kit of black trousers, white shirt black and silver tatter coat, and top hat .
Have a look at the gallery page for more pictures

Some videos of us at work

A selection of videos from our dance outs over the past few years .
Dancing our signature dance 'Ragged Crow' (a border dance) at Hanmer Springs in front of a good crowd of passersby and other dancers. We adapted the dance from a Boggarts Breakfast dance of the same name.
Dancing 'Jockey to the Fair' (a Cotswold dance) from the village of Brackley  outside the Sprig and Fern in Milton Street

Check out our programme and come along and watch us 'strut our stuff' . Take the opportunity to have a chat to one us and you never know you might feel that morris dancing is for you and try out a practice evening on a Thursday night in Nelson.

Check out our YouTube channel for more videos and have a look at the some of the 1000s of photos on our Flickr site

Morris dancing - whats it all about?

Will Kemp, one of Shakesperes actors undertaking his "Nine Days Wonder", in which he morris danced from London to Norwich often amid cheering crowds
The Morris dance is one of the oldest continuing traditions of rural England . The earliest known and surviving English written mention of Morris dance is dated to 1448, and records the payment of seven shillings to Morris dancers by the Goldsmiths' Company in London.  Further mentions of Morris dancing occur in the late 15th century, and there are also early records such as visiting bishops' "Visitation Articles" mention sword dancing, guising and other dancing activities, as well as mumming plays.

Today the Morris dance is a festival or show dance

The Betley window (origin possibly 16th century) depicts a maypole with morris dancers, musicians, a Fool, a hobby horse and a friar.   These characters would have been familiar at festivities in the 16th century, especially on May Day (1 May).  Morris dancers sometimes told the story of a lady (in the bottom centre) who marries a Fool (in the top left-hand corner). 

About us

Nelson Morris was formed in August 2009 by Steve Rule and Jan King who both morris danced in the UK prior to emigrating to New Zealand. Steve started dancing in 1983 with Haddenham Morris Dancers, and has since danced with Devils Dyke Morris Men, Cambridge Morris and Coton Morris before moving out to New Zealand. Jan danced with Bury Fair an all female team from Bury St Edmonds. 

In 2015 we decided to change the name of the side to Ragged Crow, a name that would more comfortably encompass both the Cotswold and Border sides.
In Jan 2016, Steve and Jan returned to the UK and are taking up dancing again with some of the old groups that they are familiar with.

We are also fortunate to have one member of the original Nelson FIfeshire Rock team that performed back in the 70s.
We have some great musicians who play wonderful folk music and, of course, the morris.  The success of the side is due to the enthusiasm of the members who love a challenge!
We practice every Thursday evening and then usually retire to for a well earned drink and natter  and maybe a bit of a musical session - come along and find out more about us..