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Picture of Morris Man The 'kit' which a Morris man wears is unique to the 'side' and also tends to reflect the style of Morris which the side dances. Cotswold Morris (the tradition which is based mainly on dances originally found in the villages in and around Oxfordshire), Border Morris (from the Welsh borders) and North West (from the North West of England), Rapper Sword and Long Sword are the most popular styles. 1. The Hat (if worn)
When worn, the hat is usually made of straw and decorated with fresh flowers ( Cotswold Sides ) or a bowler shape with either fresh or artifical flowers (North West) or maybe a top-hat. There are others, watch out for them. Bald wigs are not part of the kit - it's just that some of the dancers are a bit short of hair!
2. The Baldrick
This is usually taken to originate from the way in which the sword was carried, using crossed-straps over the body. The Morris Baldrick is the main identifier, particularly of Cotswold sides.The colours together with the central emblem/badge are unique to a side - the badge often identifying some feature from the home area of the side - Whitchurch feature the church, not surpisingly,in Whitchurch.
3. Breeches/Whites
Morris sides are normally split between those who wear 'whites' - white long trousers (not cricket whites which, strangely enough, are really cream) and breeches - knee-length trousers (balck is the most common) worn with long socks (usually white).
4. Handkerchiefs and Sticks.
Handkerchiefs waved during some of the dances are supposed to ward off evil spirits and are not for blowing your nose on! They are mainly white but sometimes you see other colours, particularly if the dancer or performer is a 'fool'. When not in use they are often tucked into the belt for storage.
The sticks are used in other dances and are a sword replacement. Some dances use long sticks and others short ones, some use one and others two. In the wrong hands, sticks can be dangerous!
5. The waistcoat
Not all Morris sides include a waistcoat in their kit. Cotswold sides usually use a plain waistcoat, often bearing an emblem representing the badge of the side on the back and sometimes covered in button badges gathered from all sources. Border sides have a 'tat' waistcoat consisting of shreds of coloured cloth sewn together. Whitchurch has the church on the back - if you see us then look at the time on the church clock - every man has his own time!
6. The important part - the Bells.
These are worn on a pad strapped below the knee and make that unique sound which will identify the presence of a Morris side in the area! Rumour has it that they are supposed to ward off evil spirits. Oh! and yes, we do know the one about the blind football players with a bell in the ball!

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12th July 2021
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