Hayes, Miss Frances


Collection date: Mar 1911

Area: Cumbria

Miss Frances Hayes, Headmistress of St John's school, Keswick: ‘Lumps of Plum Pudding’ FT2568 on Sunday 5 March 1911: Miss Frances Hayes sang this morris tune and rhyme to Sharp while he was on a quick visit to Keswick. She was familiar with the tune because it was played to accompany her schoolchildren when they danced on stage at local festivals.

Miss Hayes had been in post as the headmistress of St John’s school for girls and infants in Keswick since 1897 – she was there, aged 36, in the 1901 census (RG13/4878 f103 p32) and again in the 1911 census. Her school was built in 1840 for 262 children and there was a separate National school for boys and infants in Penrith Rd (Kelly’s Directory 1894).

It was Miss Hayes and Miss Marshall who together trained the school children to morris dance. The West Cumberland Times (Wed 18 Jan 1911) reported that ‘a repeat performance of picturesque morris dances and old English songs and singing games in which children of St John’s school, Keswick have been so admirably trained by Miss Hayes (headmistress) and Miss Helen Marshall of Castlerigg Manor was given on Saturday night in the Queen of the Lakes pavilion, which was well filled’. See separate profiles of Miss Helen Marshall, Richard Clayton and John Southworth.

Quite possibly Miss Hayes brought a few of her freshly trained children to perform for Sharp on the previous day 4th March 1911, when Sharp met with Mr JT Southworth, the 'Mawdesley man’ who had taught his dances to her children in 1909. Sharp was able to record all the various figures of these dances in his field words notebook (CJS/1/9/1/1910/4 pp50-56). He then transcribed them into his Folk Dance Notes vol2 pp17-29. There were 2 dances – the stationary (‘Stage’ dance) to the tune of ‘Lumps of Plum Pudding’ and the processional (’Road dance’) to the tune of ‘Cock o’ the North’.

The connection between the Mawdesley and Keswick dances has been a puzzling one but the simplest and strongest link is that Frances Hayes was actually brought up near Ormskirk and very probably witnessed the Mawdesley morris men dancing in the period 1893-96. She was a fledgling teacher at the time and when she had the opportunity as a headteacher to try out new ideas for her children – songs, dances, singing games – she could reach back to old contacts to invite John Southworth up to Keswick. Her mother still lived nr Ormskirk up until 1907 and could read press reports of the second burst of morris activity by the Mawdesley men under John Southworth (1901-03).

Frances Hayes’ story is that she was baptised Frances Anne Hayes on 28/6/1865 in Brighton, eldest of 2 daughters of Arthur Hayes, cook and servant, and his wife Frances (Snr). Arthur was no ordinary cook – he was head cook for Lord Edward Skelmersdale (later Lord Lathom), sometime Lord Chamberlain. There were 13 servants in the household at Portland Place in London. Arthur was working at Lathom Park country house, 3 miles from Ormskirk in Lancashire, in the 1871 census and he settled his family there. In 1881 census Arthur was temporarily back in Lord Lathom’s London home but his wife and daughters remained at Lathom Park. Frances Jr had by then become a pupil teacher at the local school. Arthur died in 1890 but his widow Frances Snr, who was originally from Cockermouth in Cumbria, was no doubt pleased when her daughter Frances obtained her teaching position at Keswick. Frances Snr stayed on at Lathom, however and was looked after in the Almshouses there until her death in 1907.

The 1921 census will provide further details of Miss Hayes’ career and local sources may be able to add comments to this biographical sketch. It’s not known when Miss Hayes retired or when she died.

Roy Smith has researched the Mawdesley-Keswick link in his article 'Mawdesley's Morris Dancers Remembered' in the 'Morris Dancer vol IV no.2 2010' pp21-33 https://themorrisring.org/sites/default/files/docs/mdancer/volume-4-number-2.pdf 

Note: As well as the 'Mawdesley' processional dances, the Keswick children had also learned Cotswold morris dances. Miss Florrie Warren, of the Esperance Club, visited the school in Jan 1910 to teach several Headington dances (West Cumberland Times report 22 Jan). This was just prior to the Sharp-Neal split and the subsequent publication of the first Esperance Morris Book (March 1910). These tensions obviously did not affect Miss Hayes' invitation to Sharp the following year.

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