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A Summer Assembly in Richmond: GeorgeFest19

posted Oct 16, 2019, 7:03 AM by Richmond branch RSCDS   [ updated Oct 16, 2019, 7:04 AM ]

GeorgeFest, 21st August 2019

GeorgeFest is a ten day August festival held in Richmond, North Yorkshire.
Offering a full and varied programme of themed events it attracts visitors and celebrates a period when
the town flourished as a regional hub. The 18th century was a time when Richmond was very prosperous
bringing wealth, status and a social ‘Season’ when polite society would gather for events, of which
dancing would form an important part.

This sets the scene into which Scottish Country Dancing, with its long tradition, fits very naturally and for
the last two years Richmond RSCDS has played a unique part in the Festival through the creation of our
own Summer Assembly taking place in the Town Hall.
The historic Town Hall was rebuilt in 1756 to provide a setting for Balls and Assemblies: for Richmond
Branch in the 20th century it has been the focus for our monthly Branch Socials held there since the
Branch was formed in 1952 and so making a direct link with that dancing tradition.

Even a quick glance through the publications of The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society reveals so
many 18th century origins of our traditional and popular Scottish Country Dances. Our aim in taking part in the
Festival has been to demonstrate how Scottish Country Dance is part of a living tradition, continuing to
enjoy favourites familiar in the 18th century ballroom whilst devising new dances to take the tradition forward for
the dancers of today.

Our Festival programme brought together examples of dances such as ‘The Machine Without Horses’,
credited to Rutherford 1772 and published in RSCDS Book 12, and ‘West’s Hornpipe’. – Ladies’ Pocket
Book 1797. Another essential was ‘The Summer Assembly’, a Reel devised more recently by Roy
Goldring in the 1980s; as well as other recently devised dances which could be shared with the audience,
giving visitors a chance to join in the fun. The programme was enhanced by the traditional music, ably
played by a lively band of musicians, (all of whom are also dancers) and aptly named ‘The Music Will Tell
You’!


Richmond Branch RSCDS is proud to have links to the history of the town in the form of two dances
celebrating the local beauty ‘The Lass of Richmond Hill’. In the spring of 1992 the Branch marked its 40th
Anniversary with the publication of a book of new dances; two of which were inspired by this 18th century

personality. A Reel ‘The Lass of Richmond Hill’ written by Fiona Turnbull, and a Strathspey, ‘Miss
Frances I’Anson’s Strathspey’, written by Clarice Middleton, 1st President of Richmond Branch. The
Georgian Festival has given us the opportunity to include these special dances in our programmes.

We were especially delighted on the afternoon when we were joined by ladies of the Georgian Theatre
suitably dressed for the occasion in gowns and bonnets. They added the authentic touch to give a flavour
of how the Town Hall Assembly Room would have appeared full of local society all eager to dance!

Branch members have supported the initiative, given their time and taken part in the Festivals of 2018
and 2019. We have all enjoyed the challenge of presenting a family friendly, lively and colourful event
which is an appropriate and unique part of the Georgian programme. We have also been able to
highlight and acknowledge our own debt to the traditions of Scottish Country Dance. We are proud to be
contributing to the aims of The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society and keeping that tradition alive into
the 21st Century

 Joy Bradshaw
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