Bell, George


Collection date: Nov 1912

Area: Yorkshire

George Bell of Escrick ‘long sword’ dance (1839-1912): age 73: Escrick is 7 miles S of York. Sharp had brief contact with the Escrick dancers in mid-October 1912 (Folk Dance Notes 2/177) but determined to return and did so on 18 November 1912, meeting up with George Bell ‘an old dancer’. He took down 3 tunes FT2806, 2808a/b and made a detailed report (Folk Dance Notes 2/190-207), publishing the Escrick dance in 'Sword Dances of Northern England' Book 3 (Novello 1913 pp19-36). 

The Escrick dance was performed at Xmas and New Year period with several characters being called on - King, Queen, and Betty plus Clown and his wife Madame Sylvester! The dance lapsed ‘about 40 years ago’ (i.e. 1872).

George Bell was born at Riccall in April qr 1839 (Selby 23-551), 6th of 9 children of William Bell, agricultural labourer, and his wife Hannah. He found work as a carter at nearby Escrick village (1871 census) and stayed there for the rest of his life. He married Margaret Cawood in January qr 1871 (9c 711) and they had 5 children. George became a house painter (1881 census) and remained so for the rest of his working life. George died on 21 November 1912 and is buried at Escrick.

A few revival sides perform the Escrick dance today and various Youtubes exist.

Thanks to Kevin Holland for information provided.

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