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The Mary Neal Day Click image for more

"The aim is to have no spectators, but to have everybody present joining in the dancing" Mary Neal, 1910

The Mary Neal Day: Saturday Feb 7th, 2-11pm
Presented by the Mary Neal Project and the English Folk Song and Dance Society at the Cecil Sharp House, London.

100 years ago Mary Neal got people dancing. Join us on Feb 7th - along with makers, bakers, artists, children, folk musicians, singers and dancers - for a day-long celebration of her life and work.

An instigating spirit behind the English Folk Song and Dance Revival, Neal's pioneering work with the Somerstown sewing girls and children of the Espérance Club has been overlooked - until now.

For the last 3 years, her great great niece, Lucy Neal, on inheriting Mary's personal papers, has travelled from Kings Cross to Abingdon, Thaxted and New York to explore the legacy of Mary Neal and the great Espérance experiment. The day - which affords a historic reconciliation between Neal and her one-time collaborator Cecil Sharp - creates a celebratory encounter between contemporary arts and English folk practitioners to look at tradition with fresh eyes through song, dance and debate.

Guest speakers and performers include Shirley Collins MBE, Alistair Anderson, Laurel Swift, Benji Kirkpatrick, Miranda Rutter, Freddie Opoku-Addaie, Robin Deacon, Project Phakama, Master Baker Lee Parvin, children from Edith Neville and Bentley Primary Schools and English Ceilidh Band, The Gloworms.

Your comments

19 October 2010
Elizabeth Lucy Robillard
Wonderful site, thank you, I am a big fan

01 October 2010
The loan seem to be important for guys, which would like to start their company. As a fact, it is easy to receive a collateral loan.

07 May 2009
Mary Neal
WOW! Mary Neal is Wonderful! My name is Mary Neal and I am proud of it!

15 February 2009
Gill Adams
All most enjoyable, thanks. I came for the evening concert and the Gloworms Dance with Cat Kelly. I am one of the group that Laurel teaches to play English traditional in West London. The next day I went to visit a friend, aged 100, in Ealing - he remembered Mary Neal because he was involved with Czech-English friendship/dance group in the 30s. Just a few days previously he and his wife had had come across an autobiography of Conrad Noel, who I now know was the famous Thaxsted 'red vicar', lying around in the home they live in. We retrieved it and found mention of Mary Neal's contribution to the community at Thaxsted plus some nice pictures. I've got the book on loan now if Lucy wants to see it.

09 February 2009
Peter Judge and Kitty Judge
This was a splendid day. We loved the children's ceilidh and the Morris workshop with Abingdon and the New Esps. We did indeed dance our socks off and then enjoyed some great performances. The choreographed dance was specially good - a woman dancing Bacca Pipes over a spreadeagled man? Inspired! - and Alastair Anderson: Kitty said "he played that concertina like he was playing a violin." This site is great - have the archivists recovered from the paper clips in it? - but I want to see photos, and be able to hear the talks which I missed when I was dancing! Thanks again! But I missed the

09 February 2009
Juno Braun
It was such a surprise to attend your wonderful event. I had never heard of Mary Neal and to be honest knew very little (if anything) of Morris dancing. It was wonderful to see an event that was both diverse in cultures and ages. I look forward to seeing the pictures soon. Thanks for the memories and fun!

09 February 2009
Very inspiring and so much fun! Looking forward to seeing the videos of the talks; and a massive well done to everyone from Edith Neville and Bentley for coming and displaying such good teamwork! Fantastic dancing guys! Lets hope we all get to meet again some day soon!

09 February 2009
Richard Lister
What an exemplary way to use an archive - not only to rediscover and celebrate a life and legacy, but also to reinvigorate an entire cultural tradition. It was a moving and inspirational day - and most of all, really good fun!

08 February 2009
Pete ogan Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers.
I was delighted to have been invited to remember Mary Neal,s life and work on a day when everyone enjoyed their dancing and music! Mary has been long remembered in Abingdon as much more of a celebrity than Cecil Sharp, because of her long relationship with the side. Long may her memory live!

08 February 2009
it was fantastic i had such a lovely day

08 February 2009
Peter Murphy
Its been a great glad I came inspirational ..esp' the new work on the day Thankyou Mary ...and thankyou Neal family.... I'm gonna go home an sing n dance in me local

07 February 2009
Peter Kanssen
I'm very glad that I came and learnt more about Mary Neal, as well as having a very enjoyable day. I'm bagman of a morris side, I think we should be toasting the immortal memory of Mary Neal along with Cecil Sharp at our feasts

07 February 2009
Sophie & Teresa, Bentley Primary School
Fantastic and memorable day, thank you.

07 February 2009
what a wonderful day-thank you.


The archive is still being added to. Please feel free to comment if there's something you'd like to observe or add.



The Mary Neal Day