Chesterfield Garland was started in 1977, the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Celebrations.
Clog Dancing is a fairly recent English dance tradition which began in the 1800s in the mill towns of the North West of England. Most of the dances bear the names of towns there, e.g. Lancaster, Goostrey, St Helens. As girls moved from rural areas to the newly industrialised cities, they took their dancing traditions with them and adapted them.
Many of the figures in the dances are inspired by the movement of the machinery in the mills – the wheels and cogs which made constantly changing patterns. The mill owners encouraged their workers to take part in this healthy activity, which could reflect well on their mill or factory, especially during Wakes weeks or at fairs where ‘their’ team was taking part.
These dances are part of a living tradition. We use jingles sticks (made from mill bobbins) and waver sticks with ribbons and also, of course, garlands, to add shape and excitement to the dances. As well as the traditional dances, we find others by sharing with other teams and creating our own (such as ‘Chesterfield’ and the ‘Barton Hop’, written in memory of a founder member of the team).
No dance side could exist without its musicians and we are
very lucky to have valuable support from a talented group of people who play
fiddle, accordion, bodhran, banjo and guitar to create music that has existed
through folk history for centuries.
Often new arrangements of traditional tunes are made by the musicians, which enhance the dances.