Ancient history

 Morris dances were often associated with Whitsun Ales - parish festivities at which ale was brewed and sold for the benefit of the parish. These traditional events were often presided over by a Lord and Lady of the feast. After the Civil War and Commonwealth the link with the church was broken but in the South Midlands Whitsun Ales survived, most often  as community ventures.

Eynsham erected a maypole -- the traditional sign of an Ale -- in 1660, after the Restoration. Sometimes the Ale was known as a 'Lamb Ale' after the practice (as at Kirtlington) of chasing and catching a lamb, which unfortunate animal then formed the basis of the feast. Eynsham's was a Lamb Ale, and the last 'Lady of the Lamb', was said to be Sarah Stayt, who died in 1840. This would suggest that the last Ale took place around 1800. It is very probable that Eynsham's morris dancers were entertainers in the Ale throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
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Feathers Russell c. 1901  
 

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