Tune of the Day: The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance
The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance is a folk dance dating back to the Middle Ages, taking place each year in Abbots Bromley, a village in Staffordshire, England. The modern version of this picturesque dance involves reindeer antlers, a hobby horse, Maid Marian (portrayed by a man in a dress), and a Fool (or Jester).
There is no special or traditional tune for the dance, but one of the melodies most commonly associated with it is the one we present today, known as “The Wheelwright Robinson's Tune”. Andrew Bullen (Country Dance and Song, May 1987) notes:
It was sent to [British folksong collector Cecil] Sharp in 1910 by a Mr. Buckley, an Abbots Bromley resident who noted the tune in 1857 or 1858. He learned it from William (or Henry) Robinson, the town's wheelwright and a very good fiddle player. While he never played for the dance, he was the only one in the village who remembered the tune, which he said was still used when he was a young man. We know that Robinson was born in the 1790's, because he sold his shop in 1878 while he was in his eighties. Robinson indicated that the tune was ancient in his day.