the Pipe and Tabor compendium

the Pipe and Tabor compendium

essays on the three-hole pipe

England: history of the pipe and tabor

Cotswold morris dance

21st century - unknown21st century - unknown


..... "These instruments, though they have been played within the memory of living men, are now fallen into disuse. Such traditional Morris-men as still exist amongst us use the fiddle, concertina, or accordion."

The Musical Times

A dance collector at the turn of the century asked an old man watching a Morris side what he thought of the dancing. He was told, 'These young lads dance fine enough, I suppose, but you can't dance well to those new- fangled fiddles - the pipe and tabor's the thing'.

Headington Morris Revival of 1899
In 1899 Percy Manning and Thomas William Taphouse (1838-1903) organised a one-day revival of Morris dancing and old songs. 
Manning demonstrated the whittle-and-dub, which were old instruments from Leafield.  They had been played for Morris dancing
prior to the 1850’s. 

1903 November 5th

"a November 5th procession in 1903..... London this year;..... procession, which I saw from my window in Kensington about the middle of the day;..... For musicians they had a man playing a shrill long tin whistle or pipe, and another following the cart beating a drum...... . It was a poor vulgar show,..... but it retained in its debased state several of the principal features of the old morris-dance...... the drum and penny whistle represented the ancient tabor and pipe;"

Charlotte Burne remembered



'"The music is that of a pipe and tabor ('whittle' and 'dub') played by one man; a fiddle is now often used. "

The Mediaeval Stage (2 volumes, 1903) by Sir Edmund Kerchever Chambers

'A SPECIAL Loan Exhibition OF Musical Instruments, Manuscripts, Books, Portraits, And other Mementoes of Music
and Musicians, Formed to commemorate the Tercentenary of the granting by King James I. of a Charter of Incorporation

c. 1735 item 924. Pipe and Tabor and two sets of Bells worn on the knees of the Morris Dancers. —
Belonged to Thomas Humphries, of Witney Oxon., and was played by him at most of the Morris Dances
in the villages and towns of Oxfordshire for nearly 40 years. Lent by Mr. W. Taphouse.

c 1750 item 918. Tabor Pipe and Drum. Lent by the Rev. F. W. Galpin.

c 1750 item 785. Morris Dancer's Pipe. Lent by Mr T.W. Taphouse  
Mr Taphouse[Thomas William Taphouse (1838-1905) ]
1906 In an article entitled England’s Folk Songs:1906Morning Post - Thursday 23 August 1906

Punch 13th Nov. 1907
Punch gave a full page picture of boys and girls dancing in procession through the village streets led by Mr. Punch himself playing his pipe and drum.



Punch cartoon

1908 from the poem ' Where Avon Flows' 1908Cheltenham Examiner - Thursday 15 October 1908

Banbury Guardian - Thursday 15 July 1909

Newspaper article regarding the Headington Morris Men headed 'Morris Dancing in Oxfordshire' recalls how the side were constantly invited to London and other far-off cities to teach the dances that had been handed dwon from father to son.

1909 letter - Annie G Gilchrist at Bazil Point, Hesketh Park, Southport, Lancs, to Lucy Broadwood at 84 Carlisle Mansions.

'she has heard that Mr C [Cecil Sharp] has been practising on the pipe and tabor - a pair of which he has picked up in Gloucs in the hope of illuminating the structure and limitations of morris tunes. '

Cecil SharpCecil Sharp

mouthpieceCecil Sharp's pipe's mouthpiece made by Dolmetsch

1909 Commenting upon the ‘Pastoral Fete on the Abbey Lawn’1909Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard - Saturday 10 July 1909

1909 newspaper article: 19091909 newspaper cuttingOxford Journal - Saturday 17 July 1909
1909 newspaper article entitled ‘The Morris Dance – The History of a Picturesque Old English Pastime’1909Midland Counties Tribune - Saturday 15 May 1909
1910 introduction of morris dancing to schools: 1910 newspaper cuttingEast Anglian Daily Times - Thursday 13 January 1910

1910 Opera ‘Hugh the Drover.’
“the fair scene in Act I has, among much else, entries for a hobby horse and a fool laying about people with a blown up bladder, plus 6 morris men processing with a pipe and tabor man to the tune of the Winster Processional”

Journal of the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society No.28 October 2003

Thomas PittsThomas Pitts 1855 – 1940

Newspaper article about 1911 women's morris side here

1912, 21 February  Kidlington "Lamb-Ale"

"A Morris dancer, insert (photog) with the pipe and tabor."

Oxford Journal Illustrated newspaper photographs index, 1909-1928

1912 At the Savoy Theatre, London, morris dancers and a pipe player will be introduced into the country scenes of A Winter’s Tale...”the quaint morris dancers with their accompaniment of pipe and tabor in the rustic scenes..”

Pall Mall Gazette - Monday 19 August 1912

"...the summer of 1913 as being a high-point for the Thaxted Movement in terms of dance, with much of the town
participating, if not in Morris but in country and social dance. He states that the phenomenon had taken off across all social classes, b
reaking down barriers between landowners, clergy and sweetfactory workers.

Noel himself did not take part in the dancing, but his curates did, and the vicar who succeeded him, his son-in-law
Jack Putterill, danced well into his 70s and played pipe and tabor until almost 80. Conrad allowed dancing in church upon occasion
, but Jack began to actively encourage this, and the offertory dance during the church service remains a feature of Morris Ring events throughout the country."

Revival: The Transformative Potential of English Folksong and Dance, 1880-1940

Visitors to Kelmscott Village Fair were entertained by morris men from Little Faringdon with their bells and pipe and tabor in 1921

1923 Silchester Women’s Institute garden fete1923 feteReading Observer - Friday 01 June 1923
19241924 It is unsual in England to have more than one pipe and
tabor player playing on any occasion.
1925 player 1925 J Sherman's photograph taken alongside the Oxford University Morris Men Georgie TaylorGeorgie Taylor, 1925
playing for morris dancing
In the 1929/1930's Joan Sharp (1898-1968) played pipe and tabor for morris and country dancing in England and on tour to the USA and Canada. Joan Sharp playingJoan Sharp and Douglas Kennedy
1930 Joan Sharp newspaper cuttingSheffield Independent - Monday 24 November 1930
Some morris dancers were completely against women as dancers, managers and musicians until early 21st century. In April 1934, one dancer of the East Surrey Morris wrote a letter in which his criticism of the intervention of women in morris dancing was unequivocal: "As regards men’s morris, my feeling is that it should be entirely man-managed. Women should have nothing to do with its management at all." (source)
Winsome Bartlettsource Despite attitudes such as these some women contributed fully to the morris movement. Winsome Bartlett in 1968 for example helped to set up, teach and play the pipe and tabor for Dartington Morris Men. She also made pipes and tabors, sang and appeared on the radio playing the pipe and tabor (1953).   W. Bartlett1970 Winsome Bartlett playing for Dartington Morris Men

Bexhill-on-Sea Observer - Saturday 16 October 1926 - newspaper report:
Various explanations and a history of folk dancing were given by Mr Douglas N Kennedy. 
A notable feature was a morris jig with a pipe and tabor accompaniment.

1938 reported in the Illustrated London News - Saturday 15 January 1938
“Folk-dancing in the Albert Hall...The New Year Festival ...The English (morris) dances were performed for the most part to the pipe and tabor :”
bell1949 Thaxted, Essex: This bell is decorated with a pipe and tabor player and morris dancers. 1950 newspaper cutting11950 newspaper21950 newspaper review
1950 Kenworthy Schofield played the pipe and tabor: 1950 Kenworthy SchofieldLuton News and Bedfordshire Chronicle - Thursday 15 June 1950
Kenworthy Schofieldmade his own pipes

19501950 Berkhampstead

about 19501950's Great Dunmow 1950's Leeds1950's Leeds Morris Men

1953 newspaper cutting1953 newsapper cutting contd1953 newspaper cutting

19531953The Tewkesbury Register, and Agricultural Gazette. - Saturday 18 July 1953
19531953Rugby Advertiser - Friday 17 July 1953
19531953Kent & Sussex Courier - Friday 11 September 1953
19551955Herts and Essex Observer - Friday 30 September 1955

1956 Standon Morris Men Country Dance Party 1956Herts and Essex Observer - Friday 06 January 1956


1956 Day of Dance 1956Herts and Essex Observer - Friday 28 September 1956

1958 Winchester Morris Men at Horndean1958Portsmouth Evening News - Saturday 07 June 1958
1958 Standon Morris Men1958Herts and Essex Observer - Friday 27 June 1958

1958 Village Tour 1958Herts and Essex Observer - Friday 13 June 1958

Leicester1961Griffith Jones, Leicester 19681968 Bill Barrett at Kettlewell Yorkshire 1984 Cumbria1984 Thirlspot Cumbria

1978 Mitcheldean, Gloucestershire

"With a waving of handkerchief s and clashing of sticks , Mitcheldean village's own Morris Men made their first public appearance on May 1 this year . ... they danced outside the George Hotel to the music of piano accordian and pipe and tabor"

1986 Plymouth Morris1986 Plymouth Morris Men 1988 Leeds Morris Men1988 Mike Chandler with
Leeds Morris Men
1990 Leeds Morris1990 Allan Jarvis with
Leeds Morris Men
Bert CleaverBert Cleaver with
Leeds Morris Men
Forest of DeanForest of Dean


Bristol Morris Men
Bristol's longest-established men's Morris Dance Side, founded in 1951 perform Cotswold Morris Dances, (some more traditional than others!), to music provided by melodeon, concertina, fiddle or pipe and tabor.

late 20th centuryLate 20th century
Leeds Morris Menplaying for
Leeds Morris Men
Alistair at Leedsplaying for
Leeds Morris Men
Russell WortleyRussell Wortley
Gloucester Morris Men21st century
Gloucester Morris Men
NorfolkThornham, Norfolk 20052005 Chris Thorne
Ellington Morris

20072007 Orange Peel Morris

20082008 Lichfield Green Man Morris Men
20082008 York
20092009 Tom Bower
20112011 Bert Cleaver 20112011 Colchester MMColchester Morris Men
Stephen Cheek
The St Albans Morris Men advertise that they play for dances in many places in the area, accompanied by musicians on
accordion, melodeon, three-hole pipe and tabor.
20142014 playing for
New Esperance
morris dancers at Hastings
According to a suvey of 2014 11% of morris dance sides in the UK have a pipe and tabor player musician.
20152015 Bath Spa
20152015 Cambridge MM
20162016 playing in Wallingford
20172017 Taylor's Morris Men London
Mendip MM playerMendip MM  
20182018 Whitchurch Morris Men 2018 Ely2018 Eel Festival, Ely 20192019 Allan Jarvis with Whitchurch Morris -
he has been playing for morris since 1964.
20212021 Whitchurch Morris

2021 Adderbury Morris Men2021 Adderbury Morris Men

painting21st century painting

For more and detailed information on pipe and tabor players who accompanied morris dancers see Roy Dommett's article here.


Helm collection
Inventory of about 3,700 records on British & Irish folk plays, Morris dancing and related traditions, including some notes on the pipe and tabor collected by the late Alex Helm. Special Collections of University College London Library.

20222022 Steve Rowley
20222022 Gez Pegram   20222022 Andy Richards Forest of DeanForest of Dean MM
for other types of dance see:
dance of death
18th century dance
folk customs

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