Denman, Hercy

Collection date:

Area: Nottinghamshire


Hercy Denman (1876-1928) was a solicitor in Retford, who first told Sharp about the Tideswell morris dance. He wrote a short note, which Sharp perhaps stuffed in a file, incorrectly naming the correspondent as Percy Denman and dating it as 17 July 1908. A year later Sharp transcribed all his various cuttings and filings into his Folk Dance Notebook vol1, so that Denman’s Tideswell note appears there on p42. Denman wrote to Sharp again on 7 June 1911 informing him that the date of the Tideswell Wakes event had been moved. Sharp wrote this into his Folk Dance Notes vol2 p38. It was academic, as Sharp had visited Tideswell in the interim (30 June 1910 FT2497) to obtain the dance.

Hercy Denman was obviously a musical man, who set up a folk dance group that Sharp visited and supported (1910 letter @ vwml CJS1/12/4/5/1). Sharp no doubt stayed with Hercy Denman in May 1911, when he collected a few songs from 3 singers at the Retford workhouse.

The Nottingham Journal of 17 June 1912 reported in full about a folk event led by Denman: ‘Twice on Saturday a demonstration of physical training including Swedish drill, skipping, Morris, country and sword dances was given in the Victoria Large Hall, Nottingham, and upwards of 1,300 teachers and others interested attended…the morris dances were contributed by the girls of the Retford Pupil Teachers Centre, whilst Miss Hannah Mawson and Miss Helen Karpeles gained well-earned applause for their morris jig. The folksongs, contributed by the whole of the girls present, under the conductorship of Mr TH Denman of Retford, gave a pleasing finish to a programme of all-round excellence’. This was important outreach work by the new EFDS (English Folk Dance Society) to rival the training programme of Mary Neal's Esperance Guild.

Denman was foremost in setting up a Nottinghamshire branch of the new EFDS, which Sharp had formed in Dec 1911. He spoke up for the 30 or so local branches and was on the EFDS National Committee (see 1920 correspondence).

Thomas Hercy Denman was born on 14/7/1865, 2nd child of Thomas William Denman Snr, solicitor and his wife Louisa (née Wass). He was always called ‘Hercy’ to distinguish himself from his father. Sadly his mother Louisa died in October qr 1867, when Hercy was just 2. His father never remarried. Hercy himself never married and was a solicitor in Retford all his working life. He died on 17/2/1950 at Netley, Hampshire.

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