Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Dancing in the 17th Century

In England the 17th century saw frequent conflict between church authorities and people who wished to dance or otherwise enjoy themselves on Sundays. These examples come from the county of Shropshire:

'In the village where I lived the Reader read the Common-Prayer briefly, the rest of the Day even till dark night almost, except Eating time, was Spent in Dancing under a May-Pole and a great Tree, not far from my Father's Door, where all the Town did meet together... we could not read the Scripture in our family without the great disturbance of the Taber and Pipe and Noise in the Street... And sometimes the Morrice-Dancers would come into the church, in all their Linnen and Scarfs and Antick Dresses, with the Morrice-Bells jingling at their leggs. And as soon as the Common-Prayer was read, did haste out presently to their Play again' -Richard Baxter (1615-91), writing about the period 1625 to 1640 in Eaton Constantine.

In 1637, Richard Titherland of Westbury was accused of playing the pipe and tabor on Sundays 'before the whole service was ended... and by his meanes hath drawen divers to profane the saboath by daunceinge at unlawfull times'.

Source: The Folklore of Shropshire by Roy Palmer (Logaston Press, 2004)

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