The cart in our parish was always drawn by four or six
iron-grey horses -- fine spirited animals -- lent by farmers in the
neighbourhood for the occasion.
The horses had their heads decorated with garlands made of tinsel, which
were kept in the church to be used at this particular time, and wore
collars with little bells attached to them, which rang as they moved
their heads. The men who had charge of the horses were in their shirt
sleeves, which were ornamented with rosettes and pieces of decorated
This cart was taken round the parish, after visiting the hall and magistrates
houses, attended by 12 men in their shirt sleeves, dressed in their best
clothes, who were similarly adorned as the drivers of the rushcart, with
the exception of wearing a long-coloured sash round their shoulders.
These were called morris dancers, and were attended by a fiddler and a
chief, called "the "fool", who was dressed as a
woman and carried a ladle in his hand to collect the pence -- and a bell
was attached to his back, which rung as he walked; and whenever the rushcart
stopped they danced, while the fiddler played.
The dance was a very simple one, the dancers turning round at
certain parts of the dance, and making a cracking noise like a whip with
handkerchiefs, which they carried in each hand.
Why they were called morris dancers I never heard, but often thought it
was after old Captain Morris, who had charge of the Bridgewater packet,
which came up the canal every other morning from Manchester and which
the morris dancers visited first on Rushbearing Saturday to get odd
coppers from the passengers.
The rushcart is a thing of the past, but the morris dancers still go
round the parish on Rushbearing Saturday, with their fool and fiddler,
the latter playing the good time-honoured tune of the morris dancers.
Jonathan Millican, Foxley Mount, Lymm