We published the history of our first 20 years in November 2002.
The side was formed in Wilmslow in 1982. At the time there were mainly North West Morris teams in the area (apart from Adlington MM and Thelwall MM, both all men's sides). The only other mixed Cotswold team in Manchester was Medlock. Some of the dancers who were dancing NW with Bollin Morris decided to start a mixed group in Wilmslow to concentrate on the dances of the Cotswolds and the Welsh Borders. Practices were held at the Guide Hut, Hawthorn Street, Wilmslow. The side was originally called The Earl of Stamford and Nancy's Fancy. (The latter for the women and named after the then landlady of the King William, the local visited after practices on Tuesdays.) The first dance out was at a pub in Altrincham in November 1982. The side has always been an active member of Open Morris.
It was named The Earl of Stamford Morris after the Earl of Stamford and Warrington (and Lord Delamere).
So even though our group has moved from Wilmslow to Moore near Warrington we are still within the "catchment area" of his name. The Earl raised no objection as his line died out in 1976! Our badge is based on his crest. One of the founder members lived at the Earl's seat at Dunham Massey — he wasn't titled, merely son of the National Trust Administrator! The original EOS logo featured a skull and crossbones.
We have always attracted dancers from a wide area of Cheshire and beyond. Originally members came from the Manchester, Wilmslow, Macclesfield and Sandbach areas, and in later years from as far afield as Liverpool in the west, Middleton in the north, Rochdale and Hyde in the east and Northwich in the south. At present we have members from as far afield as Bolton, Stockport, Middlewich, Comberbach and Barnton, as well as the majority from the Warrington and Halton area. Our age range is also wide!
We started with men and women dressing differently but nowadays we have unisex kit. Originally men had white trousers and later black breeches, gold socks and white shirts, while women had black pinafore dresses, over coloured T-shirts initially, and later frilly white petticoats and white blouses trimmed with lace, with black tights The women changed to more comfortable and certainly more eye catching bright gold dresses and white ankle socks ready for a trip to France in 1991.
We moved to Lymm in 1994 after the people from the Wilmslow and Macclesfield areas had moved on to other things or moved away. We gained a few new members but sadly lost some and were never very happy in Lymm — it was our year in "limbo"…. So nothing ventured, nothing gained, we decided to carry on moving west (aiming for America even then!) and in 1996 we reached Moore. It was a good move and we have never looked back. The side has gone from strength to strength and we have been asked to do many local events but we still haven't got any members actually living in Moore. We are pleased to have been joined by former members of other teams such as Black Bear from Warrington, Medlock from Manchester, Bollin from Altrincham, and Comberbach from … guess where!
In 1996 we changed our kit to white shirts, trousers and shoes for all dancers while retaining our traditional black and gold baldrics, arm bands, rosettes and bell pads below the knees. The origin of the term baldric is an ornamental belt to carry a sword and no doubt this is what Baldric from Blackadder was named after!
We have had three foreign trips so far and the side has also visited Letterkenny Festival in Ireland. The side went to Germany in 1984. In 1991 we had a wonderful exchange visit to France when we danced at various chateaux in the Loire Valley. We were hosted by Dulcimène, a French folk dance group. They came over twice to stay with us, and danced at several events. We danced with Molonglo Mayhem Morris from Canberra when they visited Britain in 1999. This side was started by ex members of EOS.
In 2000 we hosted members of Midnight Capers from Vermont during their morris tour of England (see Gallery). One of our dancers ("Elmo") married one of theirs (Grace) — so ties were firmly cemented. We did lots of paid bookings and saved EOS funds to subsidise our return visit to America in summer 2001. We had the famous points system to allocate subsidy in proportion to dance contributions! We visited Boston, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine and danced at the Lake Champlain Folk Festival in Burlington (see Gallery).
In Nov 1985 EOS danced across the three longest British Suspension Bridges — the Forth, Humber and Severn — in less than 24 hours (with minibus between and accompanied by local teams). This raised £1000 for charity. We normally raise money for a chosen charity every year. We have done two sponsored bike rides in full kit for the WWF. The first was great apart from dancing at the Bells of Peover Inn with competition from the church bells. During the second the following year there was a downpour and the gold colour of our kit ran! — like us! We have also supported the British Heart Foundation and other charities.
We danced for the Edwardian Extravaganzas, which used to be held at Dunham Massey and for several years at Tatton Park's Victorian Christmas and May Day events. We dance out at charity events, folk festivals, fetes and other groups' dance events all round the country and do evening events, eg for the WI and for cub groups etc. We danced regularly at the Scarborough Fayre and were there for the special 1999 festival. A spontaneous dance performance for the German Exchange to Warrington led to several invitations from the Mayor to dance at other events. Almost every year we host either a Weekend or a Day of Dance, at present in the Warrington area, with guest dance groups from round the country.
In December, we regularly dance at Walton Gardens near Warrington for one of their Christmas Walton Winter Wonderland events and for the Lymm Dickensian Day. However our favourite venues are country pubs on a nice summer's evening, with other local groups followed by a traditional music session! We are also famous for our Christmas parties and generally for an enjoyable social life and a good knees up!
Alan (our melodeon player) and Max (one of our dancers) were members of the group of Morris Dancers who went into the record books for dancing deepest underground in the Boulby Potash Mine near Whitby, wearing miners' helmets and accompanied by TV cameras and crew.
In May 2000 Mike went on the Austrian Alpine Club Millennium Trek to Nepal and managed a few steps of Adderbury on the top of Island Peak (20283 feet/6183 metres) before collapsing in a heap gasping for breath!
Five of our male dancers and a musician performed in Hollyoaks (a Channel 4 soap) as part of "Hollyoaks Second String Morris Dancers"!! Even though we had to sacrifice our principles of mixed dance sets it did earn good money (including overtime) towards the American exchange.
From 1996, we have met at 8pm at the Milner Institute, Runcorn Road, Moore (opposite the Red Lion pub) near Warrington each Tuesday and afterwards socialise at the Red Lion.
Originally the side danced Adderbury, Bampton, Lichfield and Border. In later years Ducklington and then Bledington were substituted for Adderbury and Bampton. Later these were dropped and Fieldtown and Stanton Harcourt were added. We reduced the number of Border dances but always kept Upton. We introduced Badby in 2001.
By 2002, we had an excellent line-up of experienced, improving and novice musicians playing accordion, concertina and melodeon.
We revived the Halton Souling Play in 2000, and hosted a free workshop and ceilidh for the local community, all funded by a Millennium Lottery Awards for All Grant. The play, a traditional Cheshire Souling play, was reconstructed from the version performed in Halton in 1886. For more details, see our Souling page. All performances have raised money for the Halton Haven Hospice.