Between the Wars

 Regular dancing began again very quickly after the War with Lady Mason of Eynsham Hall providing the material for the first set of new smocks. In  1924 more smocks were made by Ada Gardner, daughter of Fred Harwood, who was then foreman of the side. 'You use to hear my father shout "cross" or "round" or whatever; he used to start the dance and then when he knew that the steps was right, they went round or crossed. He was a soldier, he could shout.'

Music was supplied by a simple fiddle, and a three foot midget named Billy Betterton often acted as fool or 'bladder man' in the twenties. But Ada Gardner recalls 'I know one year they couldn't get a side together and that's when it stopped, 'cause the youngsters wouldn’t pick it up.' Sid Russell wrote in 1937 that 'the smocks we had seven years ago have gone', so the break probably came around 1930.


Although public displays certainly stopped for a time, the dancers apparently got together occasionally for 'private shows'; Lottie Pimm remembers them dancing in the family's shop every year up to the outbreak World War II. In 1935 a children's Morris side turned out for the Silver Jubilee of George V. The team learned Morris from Sharp's books, except for the Eynsham dance Brighton Camp which the Russell family taught them. 'All the Russells could dance automatically, it was in the blood'.


In 1937 men began practising together under Sid Russell. They danced out for George Vl's Coronation on 12 May 1937, the team then being Buff Russell (74 years old and still dancing), his sons Sid, Bert and Cecil; Arthur, Perce and Phil Lambourne, Jack Drewitt, and Ern Edwards (who also played for the Morris in the twenties) on mouth organ and melodeon. The Travelling Morrice from Cambridge visited the team on 26 June 1937, and the two teams danced in the Square. As usual, the vigour of Eynsham's dancing impressed; one of the visitors wrote, 'The dancing was an absolutely exhilarating sight and the step most vigorous. There is no feeling of decadence about the Eynsham dancing.'

As the smocks had gone, the side's costume consisted simply of a sash, the bell pads and what have become known as 'Anzac' hats, over ordinary clothes.

During the revival the side was drawn more into the general 'folk dance revival', dancing at meetings of Morris sides at Abingdon, and once going to dance at the headquarters of the English Folk Dance and Song Society in London. But in the end dissension within the group about altering the dances, and other matters, had the result that the side stopped dancing out in public in 1939.

 
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Buff Russell 1937
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