the Pipe and Tabor compendium

the Pipe and Tabor compendium

essays on the three-hole pipe

England: history of the pipe and tabor

18th century - folk customs


dancing round the maypole


" In the year 1708 there did come a great company
of Broad Brims for to stop the May Dance about the
pole at Sinnington, and others acting by concert did
the like at Helmsley, Kirby Moorside and Slingsby,
....whilst yet the may Queen was not yet
come but when those with flute and drum and dancers
came near to crown the Queen the Broad Brims did
pray and sing psalms and would not give way ..."

The account is taken by Calvert from one Nares book.

I749, Letter from Strawberry Hill, dated May 3; Walpole wrote:
" The next day what was called 'a jubilee-masquerade in the Venetian manner' at Ranelagh: it had nothing Venetian about it . . .When you entered you found the whole garden filled with masks and spread with tents which remained all night very commodely. In one quarter was a Maypole dressed with garlands, and people dancing round it to a tabour and pipe and rustic music, all masked ..... "

quoted in 'Chelsea: The Hospital', Old and New London: Volume 5 (1878)

17591759 Ranelagh (after Antonio Canaletto ) 1759 player1759 player
1761 1761Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Wednesday 14 December 1898


“assembled on Mayday, to dance before Squire Launcelot, as he made his morning’s progress through the village. Then all the young peasants made their appearance  ……. The old men and women, in their holiday garments, stood at their doors to receive their benefactor, and poured forth blessings on him as he passed. The children welcomed him with their shrill shouts, the damsels with songs of praise, and the young men, with the pipe and tabor, marched before him to the May-pole, which was bedecked with flowers and bloom. There the rural dance began.”

‘The Life and Adventures of Sir Launcelot Greaves’ by Tobias Smollett; chapter 3

c1770 fabricc1770 fabric print c1770c1770 fabric print player
17841784 satire 17841784 Prince of Wales is
playing the pipe and tabor
17931793 England, sketch 1793 player1793 player Holland1796 Holland maypole

“The place of our retreat …… The whole neighbourhood came out to meet their minister,drest in their finest cloathes, and preceded by a pipe and tabor.  A feast was also provided” …

“often the blind piper would pay us a visit”

‘The Vicar of Wakefield’ by Oliver Goldsmith ch 4, page 26

1766 wedding procession1766 wedding procession in Richmond
plough Monday
Plough Monday
Rapper sword dancers
In 1788 a group of sword dancers from the north, Cumbria, came to London and performed at the Pantheon theatre. They were accompanied by a 'fidler'. This is a term occasionally used for a pipe and tabor player [see 'terminology'].


In 1772 a music book was written in which descriptions of the pipe and tabor were given. Although the instruments were used for rustic music they were also played in the concert-hall.

militia marching
1761 “his Majesty reviewed the Dorsetshire Militia in Hyde Park;”1761Derby Mercury - Friday 30 October 1761
for more on the 18th century see:
18th makers
18th century players
ceramic ape players
dancing bear
dancing dogs
morris dance
people ceramics


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