There is a thriving folk scene within Wantage, Grove and surrounding villages.
Wantage Folk Dancing
The effervescent Icknield Way Morris Men, who celebrated 50 years in 2009, practice every Wednesday night throughout the winter in Grove Scout Hut (by the Rugby Club). They dance at pubs around the Vale during the summer and their favourite pub is the Abingdon Arms in Wantage.
The energetic Cornucopia perform Appalachian Step Clogging and British Clog dancing and meet at Grove Methodist Church Hall every Monday night, than afterwards at The Bell in Grove.
The light-heartedly dignified Vale Islanders perform 17th century Playford dances in the costume of the period. They meet every Tuesday at Charney Bassett village hall, then often at The Chequers afterwards.
The Wantage Folk Dance Club is a friendly group who meet at the Charlton Centre and dance a variety of dances (traditional, modern, Playford, Amercian square dances and contras). It’s a fun way to exercise!
Wantage Ceilidh (barn dance) Bands
These bands play for ceilidhs (barn dances) and can be hired to play at weddings and other events.
Bathshebas Wedding – ceilidh band
Jigworks – Irish ceilidh band
Larkrise Ranters – ceilidh band
Mad Hatters – ceilidhs plus Thomas Hardy inspired music
Melobo Ceilidh Band – English folk/rock barn dance band
Pandemonium – ceilidh and folk music band
Tumbledown Dick – traditional barn dance band
Background music in your own garden
If you just want two or three musicians to make fine acoustic music in your garden for a family party, BBQ or maybe a neighbourhood get together, then get in touch with Howard who is in contact with many of the musicians above.
The sound of real acoustic music is a wonderful backdrop for a garden party; relax, eat food, drink wine and chat to your friends long into the evening.
White Horse Ceilidhs
Stomping barn dances in Grove. White Horse Ceilidhs organise a dance every months with live bands and good ale.
Local display teams are invited to perform during the half time interval, with Cotswold, North West, Border, Rapper, 17th Century English dance, Appalachian and English Step Clog groups all based within the Vale of White Horse, so you’ll be well entertained whilst you catch your breath!
Folk Music Sessions
The Shoulder of Mutton has a session every Friday at 9.00pm. It also has a Slow Session for beginners and the not so confident players on the 2nd Sunday of each month from 2.30pm.
The Abingdon Arms sessions stopped during 2013 following several months of poor attendance.
There are two well established festivals run by Kate and Dave Guest – Folk for MS is the first weekend of the Wantage Summer Festival and White Horse Folk Festival is usually the third weekend in August. Both events give you the opportunity to watch, listen to and dance to some of the best folk and traditional artists in the country.
Evenings of varied entertainment – folk music, songs and recitations are provided by Pandemonium. Folk for MS (see above) includes a first class folk concert evening each year.
Christmas is a particularly busy time with Carols in the Abingdon Arms the last Wednesday before Christmas and the Wantage Mummers annual rendition on Boxing Day in Faringdon (http://www.wantage.com/wpam), Wantage (12noon) and the Hatchet in Childrey (1pm).
There is an occasional series called Around the Christmas Tree – an evening of music and readings put on at Wantage Museum by The Domino Players and often includes folk band Pandemonium.
Graham Hubbard and Howard Hill
Updated March 2016