Lavercombe, John


Collection date: Jun 1909

Area: Surrey

John Lavercombe of Tatsfield, Surrey: age 75, 8 country dances (figures, not tunes: FW2049-2056) on 25 June 1909: Lavercombe taught (called?) the dances to Sharp through the hospitality of Mrs Garnet and of Mrs Fordham of Limpsfield, wife of Montagu Fordham, the rural reformist (1864-1948).

Most of Lavercombe's dances were published in Sharp’s first Country Dance Book* later in the year (Novello: December 1909). These were: Speed the Plough, Bonnets so blue, Tink a Tink, Hunt the Squirrel, The Triumph** and the Ribbon Dance (aka Cumberland Reel). Lavercombe is credited in the acknowledgments section of the book, so Sharp’s visit was timely.

In FW2049 Sharp noted that Lavercombe was 75, born at Puddington in Devon but lately ‘settled in Tetsfield' (Tatsfield), Surrey. He was in fact baptised on 27/2/1835 at Poughill, 2 miles from Puddington - both villages are in mid-Devon, just north of Crediton. He was the son of John and Mary Ann Lavercombe. Details of his early life are yet to be confirmed but he and his wife Catherine can be found in the 1871 census in Bermondsey, London. He was listed as a bootmaker, aged 36, born at ‘Pughill’ Devon; wife Catherine 34 was born at Thrushelton, Devon; eldest child Mary, 9 was born at Stoke Climsland in Cornwall; second child Selina, 5 was born at St Leonards Cornwall; third child John, 3 was born in Exeter.

In the course of this journeying presumably Lavercombe picked up the various dances. In 1881 he was a grocer in Camberwell and in 1891 he was in Tatsfield a ‘retired boot machinist’. In the 1911 census Catherine stated that she had borne 6 children, 4 of whom had sadly died. John Lavercombe died at Tatsfield on 8/1/1919.

* The first edition of the Country Dance Book can be searched and viewed online at

**Sharp did note Lavercombe's version of The Triumph dance (FW2053) but obtained other versions elsewhere that he also adapted for inclusion in his Country Dance book. For a full account of the history of this dance and Sharp's contribution, see Walker, Christopher The Triumph in England, Scotland and the United States in Folk Music Journal vol8 no.1 2001 pp4-40.

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