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Haddenham Ceilidhs' 40 Years

by Haddenham Webteam – 2nd December 2012
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jackie oates  jim moray 02trio threlfal 01

For many of us, the word 'ceilidh' conjures up visions of a barn dance with a Scottish flavour. However, a ceilidh was originally a social gathering of any sort, and did not necessarily involve dancing. Based on its original definition, a 'ceilidh' is "a literary entertainment where stories and tales, poems and ballads are rehearsed and recited, and songs are sung, conundrums are put, proverbs are quoted, and many other literary matters are related and discussed".

For the last 40 years Haddenham Ceilidhs have provided an opportunity to catch up with good friends while enjoying high quality folk music, and traditional styles of country dancing.

On Saturday 1st December, Haddenham Ceilidhs celebrated their 40th Anniversary, with a Festival of music and dance.

The afternoon kicked off with a performance by Jackie Oates and Jim Moray, who delivered a contemporary folk concert of impeccable quality – two brilliant performers, rarely seen together.

The audience then tapped their feet along with Feet First Appalachian Clog Dancers, one of the first dance groups to popularise Appalachian dancing in this country, using the traditional dance steps and combining them into innovative and exciting dances.

Meanwhile, in the more intimate venue of the Walter Rose Room, Jane and Amanda Threlfall took a quintessentially English traditional songs and breathed new life into them, invoking a refreshing sense that this was how they were always meant to be. They were more than ably assisted by Roger Edwards to become Trio Threfall.

The ceilidh dancing, as ever, took place in the Main Hall, with The Old Swan Band providing driving fiddles with a full raunchy brass section and rhythm from drums and keyboards. Hugh Rippon, who officially retired from calling in June, masterminded this part of the evening.

Back in the acoustic concert venue, Dave Webber, Anni Fentiman and Brian Peters presented 'On the Road to Mandalay' – a journey in song through the life of the Victorian soldier, as illustrated by Rudyard Kipling's 'Barrack Room Ballads', and set to music by the late Peter Bellamy.

Listen to Jackie Oates here and live in concert here

Listen to Jon Moray online here

Listen to Trio Threlfall here

Listen to Dave Webber & Anni Fentiman here

See the 2013 Haddenham Ceilidhs programme here


To many in the United Kingdom, and some world wide, Haddenham is known as the village where you can enjoy dance, music and song based on our traditional folk heritage. The first Haddenham Ceilidh was held over 40 years ago in December 1972 and since then there have been nearly 400 Ceilidhs in the village hall.

It all started soon after John Heydon moved to Haddenham in 1971. He was already running a monthly Ceilidh in Pinner and quickly realised that Haddenham had one of the best village halls to be found – an ideal venue for dance. The Ceilidhs had grown in popularity with their success over the years and where as, when they started, Ceilidhs were few and far between, they are now held in virtually all parts of the country. The Ceilidhs have not stood still and over the years extra events and facilities have been added. Significant milestones include:

Ceilidhs in the main hall
December 1972 First Ceilidh
October 1983 Concerts in the Walter Rose Room in addition to
December 1983 First Haddenham Festival
January 1984 First early evening concert before main Ceilidh
December 1986 First New Years Eve Extravaganza
December 1987 First Craft Fayre incorporated into the 5th Haddenham Festival – in this we have sought to make available some of the best of our National Crafts – Sadly no longer organised
January 1994 New years Day Madness- an event following straight on after New Years Eve- Almost a 24 hour Marathon!
January 2002 New Years Day Evening Millennium Ceilidh
December 2012 The 40th anniversary of the Ceilidhs and the 30th Festival celebrations
April 2013 400th Ceilidh

Events have a wider appeal and are not just there for serious dancers and singers. They are available to everyone – couples, singles, families, social clubs, etc., and you can also have your own personal celebration, within the event, but with your private party still taking advantage of all the event's activities.

So there you have a potted history of Haddenham Ceilidhs. Make sure you put the first Saturday of the month from October to June in your diary and don't overlook our Festival & New Year's Eve Extravaganza, now held every alternate year.

For more information contact Haddenham Ceilidhs Office at:

John's House
5 Church Street
Bucks HP20 2QP

Telephone (01296) 415333
Email: johnh@actionfolk.co.uk

You can visit the Haddenham Ceilidh's website here

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