Pratley, William


Collection date: Sept 1911

Area: Oxfordshire

William Pratley at Ascott-under-Wychwood (1839-1920): age 71, 5 morris tunes + 3 songs on 15 Sept 1911: William Pratley was a member of the ‘younger’ morris side at Ascott* (see also Benjamin Moss). William was a dancer, not a musician and so sang the tunes for Sharp. In his notes for Bacca Pipes (FT2683), Sharp wrote: ‘Pratley gave me this as the pipe tune but when he danced it, he sang a version of Green Sleeves. The dance he danced was practically the same as the Bampton except that he did each figure backwards, i.e. anti-clockwise instead of clock-wise’.  

William Pratley was baptised on 24/11/1839 at Ascott, son of William Pratley Snr, woodman and his wife Jemima. On 6/4/1867 at Ascott he married Elizabeth Lidiard. He could not sign his name. The couple had 13 children, all born in Ascott. William was an agricultural labourer all his life. He died January qr 1920 (3a 1264).

Sharp recorded information about the Ascott-under-Wychwood morris tradition in his Folk Dance Notes vol 2 pp41-45. The dancing had stopped ‘about 30 years ago’. Sharp did not publish any Ascott dances in his Morris Books but Lionel Bacon was able to use further researches to present a number of Ascott dances in his ‘Handbook of Morris Dances’ 1974 pp19-27. Ascott dances are danced today by local sides Charlbury Morris and Summertown Morris.  

*Modern maps have ‘Ascott’ with 2 ‘t’s but Sharp wrote ‘Ascot’.

See P.S.Heath-Coleman article for Morris Matters vol 5 no.4 pp4-12


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