Flowery Morris Hats from Saddleworth Rushcart

Morris flower hats

Saddleworth Rushcart, a weekend celebration when teams (or sides) of traditional Morris dancers from around the country get together, had an unplanned hiatus this year. I’ve been meaning to share a gallery of the hats the performers wear which, as you’ll imagine, fascinate me. 

Morris dancers wearing flower hats in the Saddleworth Rushcart crowd
Morris dancers wearing flower hats

Some Morris sides use artificial flowers, which must be lighter to dance in, but while they look good, my favourites are the real ones. Many Morris dancers make their own designs using glads, mums, roses, carnations and even hydrangeas, combined with the heather that flowers on local moorland for good luck.

Pink gladioli form a point on a morris hat

Morris hat with sunglasses

The hats are finished with decorative hoops, ribbons or feathers.

Ropes, sticks and hats waiting for action

The hats are finished with decorative hoops, ribbons or feathers.

Flower hats in the Saddleworth Rushcart crowd

Morris dancers nail irons to soles and heels
Dancers nail irons to soles and heels
A white terrier guards a floral hat and a drum
Morris dog on guard

The Saddleworth side uses real flowers and a competition takes place to choose the best hat. The desire to keep the hats on while bouncing around always gives the performers a thoughtful air which dissolves to smiles whenever the hats are safely on the ground.

Saddleworth Rushcart hat competition
A dame leads the judging of the hats
Grasshopper on straw hat
Confused grasshopper
Morris man in a colourful ragged coat and flower hat
A colourful hat matches a rag coat with tatters of cloth sewn on

Hat with peach gladioli and chrysanths

For a picture of dancers in action, click here.

24 Replies to “Flowery Morris Hats from Saddleworth Rushcart”

  1. I like the flowery hats, very colourful, and I love the little dog but I’m afraid I can’t get interested in the dancing. I always think there’s something rather odd about grown men dressing up in frilly shirts and long socks with bells round their ankles, prancing about and waving handkerchiefs 🙂

  2. Thank you for another wonderful post! I love seeing the flowery hats, and the dancers! But my favorite photo is the man in the rag coat. What a warm and mischievous smile! Such a charmer! Brightens up the whole day!

  3. What a great way to have a flower show! I have heard of Morris dance but I guess I’ve never seen pictures of it. Today is Labor Day here in the US of A, and these photos seem the antithesis of labor. I know work goes into such a celebratory day, but it looks like pure fun.

    I did have to laugh at the confused grasshopper; I hope he found his way.

    1. They drag a man on a cart piled high with straw around neighbouring villages and up a big hill, so some labour is involved. I’m surprised I haven’t posted pictures of the cart – one for another day!

  4. These are amazing. Do you know about the Courir de Mardi Gras — the rural Mardi Gras — in Louisiana? There are some photos here, on my blog. The strips of cloth sewn on the Morris Dancers and the Mardi Gras celebrants are remarkably similar. There’s some history on my blog that suggests a connection going back to early France. I can’t help wondering if the same dynamic underlies the Morris Dance costuming.

  5. I have recently discovered that Morris dancing may have originated in the dancing of the Moorish population living in Southern Spain in the 10th and 11 the centuries. Seems incredible for something so very English.

  6. Such amazing colors! The flowers are almost alive. The photo of the colorful hat with the rag coat is a true winner. Thanks so much for this wonderful post!

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