Barber, Edwin

Collection date: Jun 1912

Area: Derbyshire


Edwin Barber for the Castleton May Garland dance in Derbyshire: age 69, Dance tune FT2785 on 28 June 1912: Sharp obtained the Castleton information, writing: ‘The particulars of the dance were obtained from Mr Edwin Barber, one of the old dancers, who also sang the tune …’ Sharp wrote this interview up in FDN vol2 p157 and published the dance figures in Morris Book 5 pp103-105 (Novello 1913).

Sharp acknowledged the previous recording of the Castleton ceremony by Sidney Oldall Addy in Folklore Journal vol 12 no.4 (1901). Addy (1848-1933) was a noted antiquarian – he was a solicitor from Ecclesall, Sheffield and he interviewed 86 year old Samuel Marrison in 1900. Marrison died in 1903 and so Sharp sought out Edwin Barber, a lifelong Castleton resident for further details on the music and dancing.

The Castleton Garland dance is performed annually on May 29th (Oak Apple Day, commemorating the restoration of Charles II in 1660). There is a procession round the town then stationary dances at pubs etc. The event has changed and continues to change over time, currently enjoying good community support. See Steve Roud ‘The English Year’ (Penguin 2008) and Castleton History Society.  People carry boughs of oak and the Castleton Silver Band accompany the proceedings. There’s a ‘Green Man’ King and a May Queen figure, both on horseback. Various YouTubes exist.

Edwin Barber was baptised at Castleton on 7/4/1844, 8th of 9 children of Edward Barber, roper and twine spinner, and his wife Mary. Edwin never married and lived for many years with his spinster sister and 2 bachelor brothers. He was a ‘twine-spinner’ or ‘agricultural labourer’ in most censuses but did live his whole life in Castleton. His date of death is to be confirmed.

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