the Pipe and Tabor compendium

the Pipe and Tabor compendium

essays on the three-hole pipe

England: history of the pipe and tabor

the 16th century dancing

“Three hundred years ago there was no country whose people were more addicted to dancing than the English.
They danced at every church or village festival, at Christmas, Shrovetide, Easter and Whitsuntide, at the village
fair, the Church ale, the wakes, and the harvest-homes, at the New Year, on Plough Monday, and on the first
of May. They danced round the May-pole, and they danced round the bonfire. In the city of London the
'prentices and the girls danced in the streets, after the shops were closed, to the music of the pipe and tabor.
.At the Guilds feasts they went to church in the morning, and after church they feasted, and after the feast they danced.”

People's Palace Journal of January 11, 1888

1520 "..King Francis and Queen Katharine having finished their repast above, came into the hall, and dancing
commenced to the sound of the tabour, and pipe, and viol; the first dance being performed by the Lady Mary
with a French nobleman..."

"All the other lords, barons, and courtiers ate in this place in like manner apart at their respective tables, and during
the repast all the musicians here, namely, trumpeters, and players on the cornet, sourdine, trombone, fife, tabor,
viol, and “tuifolo” each in their turn; "

An Account of the Conferences held by King Henry VIII. with the Emperor Charles V. and King Francis I.
'Venice: May 1520, 21-25', in ' Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 3, 1520-1526'

“July 9, 1539, a performance of Antonio Landi's comedy, Il Commodo, was given.  At the conclusion of the play
was an aria accompanied by four sackbuts. This was followed by a dance, with bacchantes and satyrs, a four-part
instrumental work performed by two cornetts, two crumhorns, a coiled trumpet (tromba torta), pipe and tabor
rebec and harp.”

the renaissance wind band and wind ensemble, 1983

1560 Aston Tirrold, Berkshire
“...Also the parson presenteth that ther is used in the same churchyard piping & dansing”

Archdeaconry of Berkshire Act Book

1577 criticism of dancing:

“…It is for their recreation, forsooth, (say they) and then it is a worlde to see, nay, a hell to see, howe they will
swing, leape, and turne when the pypers and crowders begin to play, as if they had neyther wisedome, grauitie,
chastitie, sobrietie, honestie, or discretion : in such sort doe they use themselves in these wanton and unchaste dauncings,..”

1843 reprint page 176

1579 Cambridgeshire, Diocese of Ely, Bishop Richard Cox's Injunctions:
“ITem bicause the Saboth day is so fondly abused in going unto Fayers and visiting of frendes, and acquaintances,
and in feasting and making of good chere, in wanton dawnsing, in lewd maygames sometyme continuing riotously
with Piping all whole nightes in barnes and such odde places, both younge men and women out of their fathers
and masters howses, I charge all my parishes, within my Dioces, and charge the Churchwardens, Sidemen,
and ministers to see that no such disorders be kept vpon the Sabaoth day, commonly called the sundayes,
as they will aunswere vppon their othe.”

1581 Aldworth, Berkshire
 “…they denie that there was anie pyping or dansing in the churche yearde at anie tyme but sayethe upon
a tyme when the parson was preaching there weare some strangers that had mistrelles there and made
mearye but left playing when they weare commanded…” 

Archdeaconry of Berkshire Act Book

1581 Leverington, Cambridgeshire, Diocesan Court Proceedings:

“Willelmus Typpin (Alehousekeper) he suffred a piper to be at his house with uther cumpanye,
dawnseinge uppon Candlemas daye 1580 at the after none in service time.”

“…neither is ther anie tune or stroke which may be sung or plaide on instruments, which hath not some poetical
ditties framed according to the numbers there of: some to Rogero ... to Galliards, to Pavines, to Jygges, to Brawles,
to all manner of tunes wich every Fidler knows ...”

 ‘A discourse of English Poetrie’ 1586, by William Webbe page 59, reprint 1871

Bleadon, Somerset, on July 8,1586
: “ the tyme of the sermon, ther was pyping tabering & [day] dancing and wold not come to the sermon nether...”

Accusation in the 1593/4 Ex Officio Act Book of Butcombe against a fidler for tempting people away from church:
“...for withdrawing of the parishoners there from divine service being a fidler...

1590 Aldborough, Yorkshire North Riding, Detecta for the Visitation of Archbishop John Piers:
” henrie Robinson & wilfrid Ingland…

for behaving them selfes disorderlie in church in service time,
in piping dauncing & playing Mr hudesley the vicar being then preaching”

As she grew older, Queen Elizabeth I became more and more interested in 'English' dances, as opposed to those
of Continental origin, and on her journeys through the countryside it was customary to bring the country people
to dance before her;
" 'Her Majestie is in very good health and comes much abroad these holidayes: for almost every night she is in
the presence to see the ladies daunce the old and the new Country dances, with the tabor and pipe"

1591 Queen Elizabeth visited Cowdray, where she watched Lord and Lady Montagu dancing with their tenants and
"'in the evening the countrie people presented themselves to hir Majestie in a pleasaunt daunce with tabor and pipe"

Nichols, J. 'Progresses of Qneen Elizabeth. Vol. II. The Qneene's Entertainment at Cowdrey' p. 6 in 'THE DANCE and SOCIETY
A Sociological Analysis of the Inter-relationship of the Social Dance and Society in England from the Age of Chaucer to the Present Day'

“On Thursday the lords and ladies dined at a table forty-eight yards long, and there was a country dance
with pipe and tabor which drew from her Majesty gentle applause.”

Highways and Byways in Sussex, by E V Lucas, 1904, p5


" London is so full of unprofitable pipers and fiddlers, that
a man can no sooner enter a tavern, than two or three cast of
them hang at his heels, to give him a dance before he depart."

In the thirty-ninth year of Elizabeth (1597), a law was
promulgated against these humble sons of the
Muses, by which all minstrels, "wandering abroad,"
were classed as "rogues, vagabonds, and sturdy
beggars," and were promised severe punishment.

' Short Apologia of the Schoole of Abuse,' Gosson, page 277

1598 ' Love's Labour's Lost - Act 5' by William Shakespeare

“…Dull. I'll make one in a dance, or so; or I will play
On the tabor to the Worthies, and let them dance the hay….”

other Shakespeare quotes here


“In 1599 Elizabeth paid her last visit to Hampton Court, as determined as ever to be young and frivolous.
She was seen through a window dancing 'The Spanish Panic (? pavane) to a whistle and tabourem 
(pipe and tabor), none being with her but my Lady Warwick.'”

From: an unpublished report of Lord Semple of Beltreis to the King of Scots,
in possession of Sir John Maxwell of Polloc; cit. Strickland, 'Lives of the Queens of Engl'. iv, 710.

1600 Queen Elizabeth: 1600

1602 On 19th September, the Earl of Worcester wrote to the Earl of Shrewsbury, reporting on Queen Elizabeth's
'progress' saying: 
 “Wee are frolyke heare in Cowrt; mutche dawncing in the privi chamber of Contrey dawnces before the Queene maiestie,
who is exceedingly pleased therewith. “

quoted in ‘Framing a Ditty for Elizabeth: Thoughts on Music for the 1602 Summer Progress’ by Ross Duffin, 2020

1602 also the “letters between the Earls of Salisbury and Worcester, 1602, describe the dancing
of country dances with the pipe and tabor in the palace of Nonesuch at Cheam.”

'Playford's English Dancing Master 1651' by margaret dean-smith f.s.a. 1957

folk customs

1569 folk customs from Newport, Isle of Wight:

“And assone as ye said commen people ar spedde competentlie with greene bowes they retorne home
in marchinge arraye the commoners before the keapers folowinge them: next ye minstrell vice & morisse
daunceres after ye Sergeantes with their maces….”

There was a separate May Day procession for the ladies:
" ye bailives wifes with their sisters ye comburges wifes orderlie in their degree by cooples to walke foorthe
to Bugge berie [Buckbury] for custome & pleasure onlye ye Lorde ye morisse daunceres ye vice & mynstrell
plainge before them"
page 22

1585 “In a diocesan letter of May 1585, Bishop Cooper of Winchester had forbidden May-games
"and other vaine pastimes upon the Sabath Dayes"
page 26

1596 “an elaborate feast which took place in the forest in August, 1596…there weare ye Cheyfe youth
of ye yeomandrye that dawnced ye morreyce (then in request) all kind of musike, and Dawncinge”
a celebration in Newport recorded by Sir John Oglander, the deputy Captain of the Island in the
1620s and 1630s, in his Commonplace Books.

from 'Newport Ligger Book' quoted in ‘THE WOOD EAVES’ by Jane Cowling

1592 High Commission Order for the Suppression of Entertainments:
“…beinge led awaye with vaine & phantasticall delightes (much more lyke Infydelles then christians) have
verye often & yat by great troupes mayde yer repaire eyther to Rushbearinges Burkes/ may powles/ may games/
 morrisdances/ gilldalles/ Somergames/ with other pypinges & daunsinges bulbaytinge bearebaytinges or to some
other unlawfull or ungodlye pastimes frequentinge allso feastes/ drinkinges/ Stage plaies/ rydiculus shewes/ wakes/
flours of the well & other ethnicall & unchristian metinges & conventicles wherebye the Sabaoth hath been usuallie prophaned…”

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