The end of the Rutland Journey, Lyddington
The idea of dancing the Morris in every village in Rutland had often reared its head in the 'Old White Hart' in Lyddington after practice sessions on a Monday evening, but it wasn't until the then Squire Dave Casewell suggested we dance in all the villages over one weekend that the idea took root and caught the club's enthusiasm
From an old print of a Rutland map on the pub wall we counted 36 villages - apparently easy! However a more sober inspection of recent Ordnance Survey maps revealed the surprising fact that there were 54 villages and towns in the old county - not so easy. Undaunted by the size of the task the planning began.
Such an event lends itself to fund raising and after serious debate it was decided that the Mental Health Foundation should receive any monies collected during the tour. Fortunately this led us to Tony Ruddle, of Ruddles brewery (sadly no longer in Rutland), whose enthusiasm and support, both moral and liquid, boosted the club both before and during the event.
Why did we do it? For some time the club has had the philosophy that the Morris dances belong in the village streets and market squares, and that an audience of five (in a hamlet) is just as important as five thousand at a large Fete or Show. (Many of the villages in Rutland had previously been considered 'too small to visit', especially if there was no pub!) There was the strong feeling that the identity of Rutland should be preserved and that the Rutland Morris Men should be seen in all the villages and towns - it was also important to us that young children should see us so that they can tell their grand children 'when the Morris Men came to the village'.