Chanctonbury Ring Morris Men


Chanctonbury Ring Morris Men are an all-male side based in central Sussex.

We are active in the central Sussex area, but our regular members travel from as far as Seaford in the East and Bognor in the West. In addition we have members who come back and join us from other counties and countries when their time permits.

We dance two styles of Morris - pictured here is the second - ‘North West Clog’. It hails, as the name suggests, from the North-West of England, and yes, the clogs have solid wooden soles, and are shod with iron, making them both heavy and slippery on metal street furniture, such as manhole covers. Despite these apparent drawbacks the style of dancing is very active, and almost military - certainly very disciplined.

The colourful ‘kit’ adds to the spectacle, and the sound of the clogs, thumping down in perfect rhythm on whatever surface we’re dancing on, is a perfect counterpoint to the music.

This is the style most people associate with Morris Dancing, called ‘Cotswold’, and named after the region of England in which it still existed when Morris was ‘rediscovered’ late in Victorian times. Typical of the style is the use of Bells (on bell-pads, strapped to the legs), and ‘hankies’ - handkerchiefs used to emphasise the movement of the arms. Sticks are used in place of hankies in many dances, and it is wise not to venture too close as fragments can fly off the sticks in our more exuberant moments!

We have, over the years, had several ‘additional characters’, sometimes known as Mythical Beasts, joining us for some of our dancing. The one you may meet if he comes out to play, is Georgian, our dragon. If during the course of one of our performances you are confronted by him, you are strongly advised to appease his hunger by feeding him coins of the realm. He is particularly fond of the little gold ones and has even been known to swallow the Euro, which is more than can be said for the rest of us.

Unfortunately, as you may notice, we have not so far been able to cure him of the bad habit of eating children in the audience…

The picture at the top of the website is of Chanctonbury Ring, the famous landmark on the top of the South Downs in Sussex from which we are named. An iron age hill fort was the hill’s chief feature, until a crown of Beech trees was planted in 1760 by a young man named Charles Goring who lived to 85 and saw his trees grow to maturity. At the time of planting, the locals were rather upset with the venture but the trees were later seen as a thing of beauty, before many of them were blown down during the hurricane of October 1987. The trees were replanted but the Ring won’t look quite the same for a number of years yet.  We dance here at 7.00am every May Day (storms permitting).

We were formed in Shoreham-by-Sea in 1953 and were elected to the Morris Ring in 1955 - one of our founder members was actively involved with the side until recently! We dance mainly Cotswold, but we also have a strong North West side, with most men dancing both styles. The geographical centre of our 'territory' is central Sussex, actually close to Chanctonbury Ring, after which we took our name. Most of our dancing is done in pub gardens and car parks in the country towns and villages in the Sussex weald, and along the coast, although we have been known to venture much further afield in search of a good pub! Our regular dancing night is Wednesday, but our programme includes the odd weekend event and a number of 'away' events, both in the UK and overseas.