In 1978, two Worthing postmen joined forces with five friends, who all frequented the now defunct Half Brick pub on the Brighton Road and formed a men’s Morris side. A year later wives and girlfriends, who weren’t content to remain on the sidelines, formed a ladies’ side and joined them to become Sompting Village Morris. We are a joint team, with men and women performing separate dances, usually at the same event, and accompanied by a band of talented musicians.
The Broadwood Morris men taught the new team their Horsham dances, led by Sompting Village Morris founder member, Sid Wakeham (1937–2016).
Since then, both the men’s and the women’s teams continue to perform traditional English Morris dances from the Cotswolds, North-West, Sussex and Border traditions. Our enthusiastic musicians accompany the dancers with old English country dance tunes.
THE SOMPTING BADGE – The Sompting badge, worn by the dancers, reflects the side’s link to the church of St Mary the Virgin Church in Sompting. The Saxon tower pictured on the badge is believed to date from the 11th century, and is topped by a four-sided Rhenish Helm
DANCING EVENTS – Both the men’s and the women’s sides dance out together at pubs around West Sussex on Wednesday evenings from May to September, followed by music and singing sessions in the pubs afterwards. We practise on Wednesdays during the rest of the year. We also dance at fetes, shows, Morris days of dance, folk festivals, local clubs, youth groups, and corporate events throughout the year. In the past, the side has accepted invitations to dance at a variety of European dance festivals, including appearances in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Greece. Sompting Village Morris has formed international links with traditional dance teams from several of these countries.
Keeping Tradition Alive
A typical year in Sompting, and our very special events (with thanks to our kind sponsors).
Sompting Village Morris dancers like to keep the old traditions alive, and we have a programme of annual festivities.
At Christmas and New Year the Sompting Tipteerers enact the famous Sompting Mummers’ Play, whose local origins have been traced back to the 1800s.
JANUARY– New Year’s Day – with dancing, and the Sompting Tipteerers’ Mummers play, followed by a music and singing session in the pub.
JANUARY– Wassail – We parade down Tarring High Street with flaming torches, then bless the apple tree in the Vine pub, with lots of bangs and whistles. This is followed by an evening of music and singing.
MAY – May Day – Early start in Shoreham with dancing, Morris procession and crowning of the May Queen. Following this our members enjoy a full English May Day breakfast at a local pub.
MAY – May Procession – Processing down Tarring High Street, holding branches of May.
JUNE – We celebrate the Summer Solstice by walking up Highdown Hill and “Dancing down the Sun”, ending with flaming torches and a beacon, then walking back down the hill by moonlight.
SEPTEMBER – End of Season Event for Sompting Village Morris performers and families.
OCTOBER – Our famous family event, The “Conker Festival”.
DECEMBER – Performing at the Black Horse, Findon and at the George, Burpham for the Boxing Day crowds, plus the enactment of the Sompting Tipteerers’ Mummers play.