Abbots Bromley Horn Dance

Where: In & around the village of Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire
When: The Monday following the first Sunday after 4th September
Time: All day starting 7am at St Nicholas' Church

 

This is an ancient custom dating back hundreds of years -nobody knows exactly how long but it’s reputedly one of the oldest traditions in Europe. It starts with a simple church service from 7am at St Nicholas Church (somewhat sparsely attended!). Afterwards the Deermen collect their horns from storage in the church and are dancing outside by around 8 o’clock. There are 6 Deermen carrying antlers in Tudor-style costume, a Hobby Horse and a Boy with Bow & Arrow who perform a unique dance together in two lines facing each other, accompanied by Maid Marian (a man in a dress), the Jester and musicians including a boy with a triangle. An assortment of tunes are played  on the accordion (with a few surprising ones like The Isle of Capri). The dance is organised by 2 local families but anyone is welcome to watch and follow the action in and around the village. By around 10.15 they are in Yeatsall, by 11 at Admaston over the reservoir and by 12 at Blithfield Hall (members of the public can watch from below the ha-ha in front of the house – only invited guests are allowed up on the lawn with the dancers). By 2.15 they are back at the Rugely junction just outside the village and make their way back to the Village Green with many stops along the way to dance and to imbibe much needed refreshment at the pubs along the route.Generally later in the day the stops to dance are shorter and further between. At 8.15 the horns are returned to the church and there is a Sevice of Compline. This is the event that set me off on my quest to see more – it’s a great day out with a very friendly atmosphere. I’ll be back!

Helpful Hints

Be careful about the date – the formula for working it out has been fixed for some time but because it shifts from year to year, there are always people who turn up on the wrong day. 2011 was a bad year for this as many were misled by incorrect info on a website (not this one, I hasten to add!) and arrived  a week too soon.

Pick up the free Abbots Bromley map if you can which also has approximate timings and history of the village etc – we got ours from the Church.There’s plenty of parking in the Village if you arrive early and if you want to drive to the outlying venues just follow the convoy – you’ll squeeze in.There are hard surfaces to walk on most of the way round. Refreshments are available all day at Church house which also has a toilet (upstairs) and of course the pubs are open. Take time to view the excellent stalls on the Village Green and try the Abbots Bromley Wakes Cakes (if they haven’t already sold out).

If you’re real lucky you may be able to volunteer to join in a dance – I did in 2011 and it was great! I was absolutely hopeless and clashed horns at one point with my opposite number- I’m telling myself it’s more fun for the spectators when the amateurs make a mess of it!!

In 2017 it will be on Monday September 11th.

Click here for the event website : http://www.thehorndanceofabbotsbromley.co.uk/

Click here for the village website :  www.abbotsbromley.com


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