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The North Walbottle Dance

This is George Butterworth’s notation of North Walbottle (or Whorlton) seen in December 1912 while he was visiting the North East with Cecil Sharp. They stayed at Helene Brown’s house in Benwell. Butterworth of course was a composer and becoming well known. His ‘Banks of Green Willow’ and his setting of A.E.Houseman’s poem, ‘A Shropshire Lad’ are sublime and a great promise of what was to come from this quintessentially English musician. Both of these and his other surviving pieces can be seen on You Tube.

He came under Ralph Vaughan William’s spell in 1906 and began to explore the music and dances of the working people in a very different way to Sharp. Looking at his notes, which appear to be taken down on site, it’s obvious that he understood the rapper as a dancer. For a few years he had been part of Sharp’s demonstration team and reportedly loved dancing Royal Earsdon.

His notes seem very similar to those of today’s dancers and are an aide memoir as opposed to Sharp’s which were very much an observation from a ‘watcher’ and not a dancer. In 1914, George Butterworth became another war victim. He joined the Durham Light Infantry and Wikipedia has this,

"Butterworth's letters are full of admiration for the ordinary miners of County Durham who served in his platoon. As part of 23rd Division, the 13th DLI was sent into action to capture the western approaches of the village of Contalmaison on The Somme. Butterworth and his men succeeded in capturing a series of trenches near Pozières on 16–17 July 1916, the traces of which can still be found within a small wood, although Butterworth was slightly wounded in the action. For it, Temporary Lt George Butterworth, aged 31, was awarded the Military Cross, gazetted 25 August 1916, although he did not live to receive it.

He was shot by a sniper on August 5 and died at Pozières on the Somme. "

The Walbottle (Possibly the Whorlton, since Sharp mentions visiting there during those few days just before Christmas in 1912) notation and a different Calling on Song tune from Winlaton can be found as part of the ‘Full English’ the largest searchable digital archive of early 20th century English folk arts, Full English

North Walbottle Dance

No song 8 bars stand in large ring –
Next strain, meet, clash, turn & do Single Guard (swords over right shoulder)
(1) Then Curly 2 circles , 1 2 3 5 4

Then Nut (like Earsdon) - Rose and step (8 bars)
Then untie & Single Guard.

(2) Right & Left
Like Figure Eight, except that 2 & 3 follow 1, 4 follows 5,
Order of crossing in 1,5,2,4,3

Then Nut?

(3) Number One Ring
After single guard form hilt and point & continue moving clockwise. Then turn back to back (1/2 turn c. cl.) Raise arms above heads and tie nut (left hand under neighbour’s right)

Step for 8 bars, while leader holds up nut for a few seconds, then replaces it (? Turns it over) – All make half turn clock (?) & go straight into Single Guard

Fast Nut
Begin like Curly – change over as in fig 8 – remain on wrong sides – then cross back.

Four Corner
1 & 5 break away and make ½ half turn out, and face opposite direction. 2 goes round 1, 4 round 5.
This gives line thus 4 5 3 1 2
1 & 5 jump over swords (stepping in between)
3 makes ½ turn cl. & makes back somersault
Then 4 & 5 turn & that ties the nut.

Number two ring
Form Ring turn back to back & step. Then 2 followed by 3, 4, 5 jumps No 1 sword. 1 stands still –
That ties the nut.

The Navvy
2 circle movement beginning with Curly.
Then 2 & 4 change & keep changing 3 follows 2, 4 going between. 1 &5 remain in their own circles.

1& 5 break away and go round 2 & 4 respectively – 3 moves forward (squeezes through)
Goes right round 1 & 2 . 3 turns again to the left followed by 1&2 getting into his right place at the end. Meanwhile 5 (after passing round 4) turns again to his right 4 follows him (half a turn). This ties the nut.

Number Three Ring
Form ring, 3 & 4 hold up sword
4   3
5   2
Then 5 1 2 go under and turn to right 4 makes 2 whole turns & turn back to back – That ties nut (high) Leader holds up while others step.
To untie 5 1 2 go under 3 and 4
5 turns right
1 turns left
2 turns left
3 turns to left (i.e. turn) –
4 turns twice ? and changes places with 3
That ties nut again (ordinary)

Stand in the Guard
After Single Guard stand so
1    5
2    4
And step – 3 Jumps over
Then back somersault.
Then tie nut.
Tommy now joins circle (between 4 & 3) and all do Curly & Right and Left and Four Corner
The Betty joins in (between Tommy & 3) & they do Curly
Stand in the Guard - & Four Corner

Then tie the nut and form line.