the Pipe and Tabor compendium

the Pipe and Tabor compendium

essays on the three-hole pipe

England: history of the pipe and tabor

Cotswold morris dance

21st century - unknown21st century - unknown


..... "These instruments, though they have been played within the memory of living men, are now fallen into disuse. Such traditional Morris-men as still exist amongst us use the fiddle, concertina, or accordion."

The Musical Times

A dance collector at the turn of the century asked
an old man watching a Morris side what he thought
of the dancing. He was told, 'These young lads dance
fine enough, I suppose, but you can't dance well to
those new- fangled fiddles -
the pipe and tabor's the thing'.

Headington Morris Revival of 1899
In 1899 Percy Manning and Thomas William Taphouse (1838-1903) organised a one-day revival of Morris
dancing and old songs.  Manning demonstrated the whittle-and-dub, which were old instruments from Leafield. 
They had been played for Morris dancing prior to the 1850’s. 

1903 November 5th

"a November 5th procession in 1903..... London this year;..... procession, which I saw from my window in Kensington about the middle of the day;..... For musicians they had a man playing a shrill long tin whistle or pipe, and another following the cart beating a drum...... . It was a poor vulgar show,..... but it retained in its debased state several of the principal features of the old morris-dance...... the drum and penny whistle represented the ancient tabor and pipe;"

Charlotte Burne remembered



'"The music is that of a pipe and tabor
('whittle' and 'dub')
played by one man;
a fiddle is now often used. "

The Mediaeval Stage (2 volumes, 1903)
by Sir Edmund Kerchever Chambers

'A SPECIAL Loan Exhibition OF Musical Instruments, Manuscripts, Books, Portraits, And other
Mementoes of Music and Musicians, Formed to commemorate the Tercentenary of the granting
by King James I. of a Charter of Incorporation to the WORSHIPFUL COMPANY OF MUSICIANS in 1604...'

c. 1735 item 924. Pipe and Tabor and two sets of Bells worn on the knees of the Morris Dancers. —
Belonged to Thomas Humphries, of Witney Oxon., and was played by him at most of the Morris Dances
in the villages and towns of Oxfordshire for nearly 40 years. Lent by Mr. W. Taphouse.

c 1750 item 918. Tabor Pipe and Drum. Lent by the Rev. F. W. Galpin.

c 1750 item 785. Morris Dancer's Pipe. Lent by Mr T.W. Taphouse  
Mr Taphouse[Thomas William Taphouse (1838-1905) ]

Between 1906 and 1913 George Butterworth travelled extensively through the English countryside painstakingly
noting down words, tunes and steps of morris dances. In Sussex, Butterworth was watching two ancient brothers,
Eli and Jack, as they danced in the middle of a village street accompanied by another elderly man on his pipe and tabor:

“He was intent only on the dancing and was entirely oblivious of the crowd of bewildered villagers
who had gathered to see the unwonted spectacle. On the road beside him was a heap of notebooks …
the brothers advanced and retired, they bowed and they capered, they executed intricate figures
with the comrades who were present in their minds, though in fact they had lain many years in the
neighbouring churchyard.”

1906 In an article entitled England’s Folk Songs by Cecil Sharp: 1906Morning Post - Thursday 23 August 1906

1907 Punch gave a full page picture of boys and girls dancing in procession through the village streets led by Mr. Punch himself playing his pipe and drum.



Punch cartoonPunch 13th Nov. 1907

1908 from the poem ' Where Avon Flows' 1908Cheltenham Examiner - Thursday 15 October 1908

Banbury Guardian - Thursday 15 July 1909

Newspaper article regarding the Headington Morris Men headed 'Morris Dancing in Oxfordshire' recalls
how the side were constantly invited to London and other far-off cities to teach the dances that had been
handed down from father to son.

1909 letter - Annie G Gilchrist at Bazil Point, Hesketh Park, Southport, Lancs, to Lucy Broadwood at 84 Carlisle Mansions.

'she has heard that Mr C [Cecil Sharp] has been practising on the pipe and tabor - a pair of which he has picked up in Gloucs in the hope of illuminating the structure and limitations of morris tunes. '

Cecil SharpCecil Sharp

mouthpieceCecil Sharp's pipe's mouthpiece made by Dolmetsch

1909 Commenting upon the ‘Pastoral Fete on the Abbey Lawn’1909Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard - Saturday 10 July 1909

1909 newspaper article: 19091909 newspaper cuttingOxford Journal - Saturday 17 July 1909
1909 newspaper article entitled ‘The Morris Dance – The History of a Picturesque Old English Pastime’1909Midland Counties Tribune - Saturday 15 May 1909
1910 introduction of morris dancing to schools: 1910 newspaper cuttingEast Anglian Daily Times - Thursday 13 January 1910

1910 Opera ‘Hugh the Drover.’
“the fair scene in Act I has, among much else, entries for a hobby horse and a fool laying about people with a blown up bladder, plus 6 morris men processing with a pipe and tabor man to the tune of the Winster Processional”

Journal of the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society No.28 October 2003

In a newspaper report ‘Notes of the Week’, the reporter opines, of morris dancing:

"a pipe and tabor should be used for making ther music in order that the picture of old-world merriment might be complete in every detail"


Thomas PittsThomas Pitts 1855 – 1940

Newspaper article about 1911 women's morris side here:

"Women taught the men to dance"

1912, 21 February  at Kidlington "Lamb-Ale"
"A Morris dancer, insert (photog) with the pipe and tabor."

"Mrs Hill playing the Morris pipe and tabor" March 1927

Oxford Journal Illustrated

1911 Cecil Sharp visited Oxford to give a lecture on “English Sword Dances”……
He showed the pipe and tabor “found beside the old player when he died in a barn at Temple Guiting.
The pipe is made of plumwood.”

1911 Thaxted

"By July 1911 the morris dancers of Thaxted numbered 60 strong, and included a youths’ team, girls’ team
and two children’s teams. The teams performed to an audience of 2,000 at a flower show in nearby Stisted..."

"...the summer of 1913 as being a high-point for the Thaxted Movement in terms of dance, with much of the town
participating, if not in Morris but in country and social dance. He states that the phenomenon had taken off across
all social classes, breaking down barriers between landowners, clergy and sweetfactory workers.

Noel himself did not take part in the dancing, but his curates did, and the vicar who succeeded him, his son-in-law
Jack Putterill, danced well into his 70s and played pipe and tabor until almost 80. Conrad allowed dancing in
church upon occasion, but Jack began to actively encourage this, and the offertory dance during the church service
remains a feature of Morris Ring events throughout the country."

Revival: The Transformative Potential of English Folksong and Dance, 1880-1940

1912 "At the Savoy Theatre, London, morris dancers and a pipe player will be introduced into the country
scenes of A Winter’s Tale...”the quaint morris dancers with their accompaniment of pipe and tabor in the rustic scenes..”

Pall Mall Gazette - Monday 19 August 1912

1912 story, with James Muggeridge - a pipe and tabor player:

“…with them when we arrived was another elderly man, a little their junior, blowing and beating away
at his pipe and tabor as though dear life depended upon it….The pipe and tabor have now passed
into the limbo of musical archaisms, but it was absurd to allow them to do so…. as they continued,
and the pipe and tabor continued, I became conscious of a new feeling.  For the Morris dance is like nothing else.


1912 Bucknell morris men
“The Bucknell men had their own pipe-and-taborer, but he died many years ago. Mr. Jim Pole, who learned
his instrument from the older player, was kind enough, however, to play his pipe and tabor for our two dancers,
when we were noting down their steps….”

‘The Morris book : with a description of dances as performed by the Morris men of England’ by Sharp, Cecil J,  MacIlwaine, Herbert C

“ Oxford society had got over its first surprise at the spectacle of University Dons in bells and baldric
dancing these vigorous dances to the music of the pipe and tabor or their modern equivalent.”

1915 Description of the costume worn by morris men: 1915‘English Folk Song and Dance’ by FRANK KIDSON AND MARY NEAL

Visitors to Kelmscott Village Fair were entertained by morris men from
Little Faringdon with their bells and pipe and tabor in 1921

1923 Silchester Women’s Institute garden fete1923 feteReading Observer - Friday 01 June 1923
19241924 It is unsual in England to have more than one pipe
and tabor player playing on any occasion.
1925 player1925 J Sherman's photograph taken alongside the Oxford University Morris Men

Georgie TaylorGeorgie Taylor, 1925
playing for morris dancing


"A scratch set called the
Isis Strollers danced at a Reading Festival…. accompanied on Pipe and Tabor by Mrs Taylor (Georgie), Secretary of the Oxford Branch."
In the 1929/1930's Joan Sharp (1898-1968) played pipe and tabor for morris and country dancing in England and on tour to the USA and Canada.
Joan Sharp playingJoan Sharp and Douglas Kennedy
1930 Joan Sharp newspaper cuttingSheffield Independent - Monday 24 November 1930
19291929 Joan Sharp in Canada
Some morris dancers were completely against women as dancers, managers and musicians until early 21st century.
In April 1934, one dancer of the East Surrey Morris wrote a letter in which his criticism of the intervention of women
in morris dancing was unequivocal: "As regards men’s morris, my feeling is that it should be entirely man-managed.
Women should have nothing to do with its management at all." (source)
Winsome Bartlettsource Despite attitudes such as these some women contributed fully to the morris movement. Winsome Bartlett in 1968 for example helped to set up, teach and play the pipe and tabor for Dartington Morris Men. She also made pipes and tabors, sang and appeared on the radio playing the pipe and tabor (1953).   W. Bartlett1970 Winsome Bartlett playing for Dartington Morris Men

Bexhill-on-Sea Observer - Saturday 16 October 1926 - newspaper report:
Various explanations and a history of folk dancing were given by Mr Douglas N Kennedy. 
A notable feature was a morris jig with a pipe and tabor accompaniment.

1930 brass pipe made by Bill Warder for the St. Albans Morris Men revival. 
It is influenced by the pipe depicted on the title page of William Kemp's "Nine Days Wonder."1930
1938 reported in the Illustrated London News - Saturday 15 January 1938
“Folk-dancing in the Albert Hall...The New Year Festival ...The English (morris) dances were performed for the most part to the pipe and tabor :”
bell1949 Thaxted, Essex: church bell decorated with a pipe and tabor player and morris dancers. 1950 newspaper cutting11950 newspaper21950 newspaper review
1950 Kenworthy Schofield played the pipe and tabor: 1950 Kenworthy SchofieldLuton News and Bedfordshire Chronicle - Thursday 15 June 1950
Kenworthy Schofieldmade his own pipes

19501950 Berkhampstead

about 19501950's Great Dunmow 1950's Leeds1950's Leeds Morris Men

1953 newspaper cutting1953 newsapper cutting contd1953 newspaper cutting

19531953The Tewkesbury Register, and Agricultural Gazette. - Saturday 18 July 1953
19531953Rugby Advertiser - Friday 17 July 1953
19531953Kent & Sussex Courier - Friday 11 September 1953
19551955Herts and Essex Observer - Friday 30 September 1955

1956 Standon Morris Men Country Dance Party 1956Herts and Essex Observer - Friday 06 January 1956


1956 Day of Dance 1956Herts and Essex Observer - Friday 28 September 1956

1958 Winchester Morris Men at Horndean1958Portsmouth Evening News - Saturday 07 June 1958
1958 Standon Morris Men1958Herts and Essex Observer - Friday 27 June 1958
1958 Village Tour 1958Herts and Essex Observer - Friday 13 June 1958

Leicester1961Griffith Jones, Leicester 19681968 Bill Barrett at Kettlewell Yorkshire

Bill Barrett, said
"I first played the pipe and tabor on a pipe of composite construction—bamboo and bicycle pump"

morris instrumentsused to be played for a morris side:
The pipes are in C and D.
Drum measures 12 inches in diameter

19711971 Geoffrey Metcalf
Ravensbourne MM
cartoon by Raymond “Jak” Jackson
in the Evening Standard
19811981 Kevin Holland 1984 Cumbria1984 Thirlspot

1978 Mitcheldean, Gloucestershire

"With a waving of handkerchief's
and clashing of sticks , Mitcheldean
village's own Morris Men made their
first public appearance on May 1 this
year . ... they danced outside the
George Hotel to the music of piano
accordian and pipe and tabor"

19851985 1986 Plymouth Morris1986 Plymouth Morris Men
1988 Leeds Morris Men1988 Mike Chandler with
Leeds Morris Men
1990 Leeds Morris1990 Allan Jarvis with
Leeds Morris Men
Bert CleaverBert Cleaver with
Leeds Morris Men

Russell WortleyRussell Wortley

Bristol Morris Men
"Bristol's longest-established men's Morris Dance Side, founded in 1951 perform Cotswold Morris Dances, (some more traditional than others!), to music provided by melodeon, concertina, fiddle
or pipe and tabor."

late 20th centuryLate 20th century
Leeds Morris Menplaying for
Leeds Morris Men
Alistair at Leedsplaying for
Leeds Morris Men
NorfolkThornham, Norfolk
Gloucester Morris Men21st century
Gloucester Morris Men

2004source page 17 Bampton

20052005 Chris Thorne
Ellington Morris

20082008 Lichfield, Green
Man Morris Men

20082008 York
20092009 Tom Bower
20112011 Bert Cleaver 20112011 Colchester MMColchester Morris Men
Stephen Cheek
The St Albans Morris Men advertise that they play for dances in many places in the area, accompanied by musicians on
accordion, melodeon, three-hole pipe and tabor.
20122012 Durham Folk Party
20142014 Frances Eustace
playing for New Esperance
at Hastings
According to a suvey of 2014 11% of morris dance sides in the UK have a pipe and tabor player musician.
20152015 Bath Spa
20152015 Cambridge MM

GillianSince 2004 Gillian Guest
has played for dancing,
(long-sword, Playford,
clog and morris)

20162016 playing in Wallingford
20172017 Taylor's Morris
Men London
Mendip MM playerMendip MM
20172017 Nick at Castle Donington
20172017 Long Man Morris
20182018 Whitchurch Morris Men 2018 Ely2018 Eel Festival, Ely 20192019 Jim Giddings
at Peterborough
20192019 Allan Jarvis with Whitchurch Morris -
he has been playing for morris since 1964.
20192019 St Albans Morris 2021 Adderbury Morris Men2021 Adderbury Morris Men 20212021 Bridport Folk
John Tilsely Photography
20212021 Taunton Deane
20212021 Traditional Bampton
20222022 David Wright
playing for Yateley MM
20222022 Andy Richards 20222022 Steve Rowley Forest of DeanForest of Dean MM

For more and detailed information on pipe and tabor players who accompanied morris dancers see Roy Dommett's article here and the piece by Alice Little here.

Helm collection
Inventory of about 3,700 records on British & Irish folk plays, Morris dancing and related traditions, including some notes on the pipe and tabor collected by the late Alex Helm.

Special Collections of University College London Library.

painting21st century painting
Merry Illuminations by Alison Merry


20222022 Gez Pegram 20222022 The Mayflower Morris
Men of Billericay
20222022 Whitby Folk Festival 20222022 Ken Watson playing for Grimsby MM
at Whitby Folk Festival
20222022 at Sandwich Folk and Ale Festival:  
Black Swan Morris, Carshalton, Surrey
20222022 Terry Carter 20222022 Windsor Morris
20222022 Adderbury MM

20232023 Stephanie plays for
Black Annis Morris  all-women morris side
20232023 playing for Sweyns Ey Morris Swansea 20232023 Grace Williams playing for London Pride Morris
20232023 Guildford Summerpole,
playing for Pilgim Morris
20232023 Tony Wade at Rufford Abbey
Country Park, Nottinghamshire
20242024 Perkins

20242024 White Hart MM Alcester, Warwickshire

20242024 Newark Day of Dancing
20242024 Vernon Harwood      

for other types of dance see:
dance of death
18th century dance
folk customs
Regency dancing


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