Powell, Joseph


Collection date: Apr 1912

Area: Oxfordshire

Joseph (William) Powell of Bucknell morris (1845-1937): Joseph Powell was the pipe and tabor player for the Bucknell side. He began as a dancer but took over from the previous piper Nelson of Steeple Aston. He is shown in the photograph of the revived Bucknell side in the early 1880s.

George Butterworth’s diary (go to vwml.org Search GB/10) mistakenly gave his name as ‘Joe Pole’ but went on to describe how he met Powell at his cottage at Hawkswell Farm on 14 April 1912.  Powell ‘showed me his pipe and drum, of which he was very proud, having recently refused a sovereign for them…said he could not play very well now but tried one or two tunes, including Maid of the Mill and Shepherd’s Hey. Unfortunately the notes were so uncertain that I could not write anything down, but he promised to practise for me. He showed me the handclapping in Shepherd’s Hey (description follows).’ (p15). Butterworth visited Powell again the next day and obtained some tunes when Powell hummed them to him!

Joseph Powell was baptised on 28/9/1845 at Cottisford church, 6 miles NE of Bucknell, son of William Powell, agricultural labourer and his wife Keziah (née Price). William himself had been baptised as ‘Poel’, so the pronunciation must have been as in ‘hoe’ rather than ‘how’. Anyway Joseph married Charlotte Bourton at St Mary Magdalen church, Oxford on 9/2/1868 and they had 1 son and 3 daughters. Charlotte died in 1908, so Joseph was a widower, living with his daughter Patty, when Butterworth met him.

Sharp met Joseph Powell on 10 Sept 1922 and recorded his interview in Folk Dance Notes 4/91. Joseph was by then 75 and had recently broken his hip, so could not work. His stated occupation in most censuses had been 'carter'. But Sharp placed an order for Joe to make 6 tabors @ 30/- each. The Travelling Morrice visited Bucknell on their 9th tour in June 1931 and Joseph was delighted to see them. He was still able to play a few tunes.

Joseph William Powell was buried at Bucknell on 9/2/1937.

Keith Chandler's history of the Bucknell side is in Morris Matters vol 6 No.2 pp4-11 https://www.morrisfed.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/MM-6-2.pdf

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