Brit News

Cricket on the village green

A nostalgic view of rural Britain must include the quintessentially English sporting endeavour of Cricket. Traceable back to the early sixteenth century, the sleepy summer version should be played over a period of many hours and structured around civilized breaks for 'lunch' and 'tea' - thus integrating sport with the village social life.

Those not playing the game should be diligently preparing an array of light refreshments to be enjoyed by all in the pavilion. The 'tea' should include neatly cut sandwiches, preferably cucumber, and plates piled high with cakes and scones.

After a strenuous contest out on the field, some light refreshments and pleasant conversation provide a welcome break for players and spectators alike. Tea in the pavilion encapsulates all that's important in summer: family, friends, some gentlemanly sportsmanship, good food and a nice cup of tea or glass of something stronger.

Flower shows

There are few nations in the world that lavish quite so much time, love and attention on gardens and gardening as Britain. Britain is indeed home to a whole host of floral societies and flower shows.

In the early 1800s, the sweeping landscapes of the previous century were gradually replaced with formal flower gardens stuffed with new exotic perennials. In the 1820s the Royal Horticultural Society began holding a series of floral fetes at the Duke of Devonshire's estate in Chiswick - these and similar shows introduced gardening as a popular middle class pursuit and by the First World War formal flower gardens themselves were increasingly being replaced with more decorative and artistic plantings.

​Flower clubs and societies based around gardens and gardening were founded throughout the 1800s including the Royal National Rose Society in 1876. In 1858 the first rose show for roses grown purely for exhibition was held at London's St. James's Hall.

From small horticultural shows run by local garden societies to massive events attracting thousands, flower shows continue to grow in popularity to this day - a sign of the enduring passion for gardening that is embedded in British society.

​Summer traditions

Morris Dancing

The bizarre spectacle of grown men wearing elaborate costumes adorned with ribbons, bells, flowers and feathers, prancing around to a musical accompaniment of fiddles whistles, accordions and drums, on a rural village green is a sight to see. This ancient and unique traditional folk dance usually takes place in close proximity to a pub and involves much beer drinking, cheering and general merriment.

​Although the origins of Morris dancing are widely disputed (the word Morris probably comes from 'Moorish') the practice can be traced back at least 600 years. It became popular among peasants during Elizabethan times and in 1600 Shakespearean comic actor Will Kempe famously morris danced from London to Norwich in nine days.

Today each village group will have their own particular style, costumes, steps, dances and folk songs that have been handed down from generation to generation.  Associated with seasonal festivals and celebrations, morris dancers certainly provide a captivating form of entertainment on a warm summer's evening. Brandishing their swords and sticks, shouting and whooping, these eccentric, clog wearing characters are a quaint reminder of Britain's rich and colourful past.