Last Saturday, 20th November, the South Zeal-based ladies morris dancers group Cogs and Wheels celebrated the 25th anniversary of their founding with a series of dances around Sticklepath, starting off at the National Trust-owned Finch Foundry.
Cogs and Wheels were set up when some of the original founding members were inspired by watching ‘Heather and Gorse Clog Morris’, a Newton Abbot-based ladies only dancing side, performing at the Finch Foundry in celebration of St Clement’s Day, November 23rd, St Clement being the patron saint of metal workers and blacksmiths.
The dancers take their inspiration from the Finch Foundry, hence the name of Cogs and Wheels, and the surrounding Dartmoor landscape, with their colourful costumes reflecting the hues of Dartmoor.
Their dance comes mainly from the Cotswold traditional style but also includes some Border style as well as their own.
Traditionally a hat would be passed around the audience as an opportunity to thank and reward the dancers for driving away evil spirits; today it helps to cover expenses and make donations to local charitable causes.
Saturday’s celebrations started at the Finch Foundry at noon with a succession of dances, followed by a processional dance in the Foundry gardens and a brief moment of remembrance around Sally’s Tree planted in memory of Sally Reason, a founder member and former Squire (the dance officer) of Cogs and Wheels who lost her life to
cancer in 2011.
The dancers then moved on in procession to the Sticklepath Playing Field, where musician Fiona Elsworth gave a brief history of the group, a commemorative tree was planted, and after a few more dances, moved on to the Kings Arms pub for a celebratory buffet tea and more dancing with past members and visitors. Cogs and Wheels started out with nine ladies originally practicing in the gallery of the Finch Foundry at Sticklepath, and currently practicing once a week in South Zeal Village Hall from October through to April, and are always looking for new members.
Contact Cogs and Wheels via the website (below) if you are interested. Contact Donna Tombs on 07771 294331 or by email at email@example.com.
Cogs and Wheels website: