BackThe Fallibroome Collection

What is Fallibroome?  It's a collection of six books of dances, but not in the same way as Playford, Thompson or Johnson, which were original collections published at the time.  The Fallibroome collection contains modern interpretations of 18th century dances from various sources.  The interpretations are by Bernard Bentley who lived in a small village in the parish of Prestbury in Cheshire called Fallibroome.  So someone may say “That's a Fallibroome dance”, someone else may say “No, it's from the Dancing Master”, and they're both right!  One thing the dances are not, is Playford; John and Henry Playford were both dead by then and the Dancing Master was being published by John Young.  (Actually there is one published by Henry Playford in 1686 — “Westmorland” — though Bernard Bentley found it in John Young's edition of 1721.)  These are mainly 18th century dances, a few from the early nineteenth century and one square written by Bernard Bentley himself.  This, “Saint Andrew's Assembly”, is totally out of character because it is Playford-style — a set dance of three figures, using the Up a double, Siding and Arming introductions.

Bernard Bentley, who died in 2003, was a Mancunian and a founder member of the Manchester Morris Men.  He was an authority on North-west Morris, as well as a noted interpreter of English country dances.

The 18th century was the heyday of the triple minor dance.  Bernard Bentley wisely converted many of them to duple minor or three-couple sets.  His explanations mainly use the same terms as Cecil Sharp (except the unexplained “Foot it”), but he isn't so good at indicating the timing of the movements; his descriptions can be a bit vague.  On the other hand he's very honest about the changes he's made to the dances, either to convert them to three couple sets or because the original instructions didn't seem to make sense or fit the music.  In some cases I've dropped his changes and gone back to something closer to the original; in one or two cases I've made changes myself (and I will tell you so when I'm calling the dances).

There are 102 Fallibroome dances, and many of these don't appeal to me (at least on paper) because I don't feel there's enough to them.  They may be partly redeemed by good tunes; I don't know.  Bernard Bentley certainly had an ear for a good tune — often an unusual tune — and some musicians say that there's very definitely a “Fallibroome” style, different from a “Playford” style.  And having said that many of them are too simple for me, I still struggle to call “Duchess of Grafton” with its 10-bar A-music and 11-bar B-music!

When I started dancing, Fallibroome was a collection that nobody knew: they'd met “Miss Sayers' Allemande” or “Chelmsford Assembly” but that was as far as it went.  Wild Thyme made Fallibroome something of a speciality and produced two albums — “Wild Thyme plays Fallibroome” and “The Beau's Retreat” — containing what they believed were the best dances and tunes.  Why not try some of them out and see if you can discover the Fallibroome magic.  EFDSS republished the series in one book in 2009, complete with facsimiles of the originals, plus “A Fallibroome Garden” — twelve dances composed by Bernard Bentley in eighteenth-century style to a set of Contretänze by Beethoven and originally published as a booklet in 1990 — and I hope this will make the Fallibroome dances more popular.  Read about it here (PDF).  You will search the EFDSS website in vain for this book — the shop has now been outsourced to and I haven't yet managed to find it there.

Two top favourites with English dancers in North America are Saint Margaret's Hill and Dublin Bay, though the dancers don't know that the versions they love are from Fallibroome.

And for the people who won't be satisfied with anything less than a complete list in alphabetical order, here are the titles and the volume in which they appear.

3 • Accomplished Maid5 • Anna Maria2 • As Quick As You Please5 • Assembly of Lovers6 • Balloon1 • Barn Elms2 • Beau's Retreat4 • Beaus of the Park4 • Beaux Delight1 • Blackwell Hall6 • Bouzer Castle4 • Burghee's Hole5 • Burgundy's Flight4 • Buskin6 • Camberwell3 • Captain Catton's Maggot3 • Chelmsford Assembly5 • Clapham Frolick6 • Cock Ey'd Brown4 • Cream Pot5 • Cuckoo's Nest1 • Daphne's Delight4 • Doll Tearsheet's Rant1 • Doway2 • Drapers Gardens1 • Dublin Bay6 • Duchess of Grafton4 • Easter Eve5 • Easter Thursday6 • Eliza3 • Enfield Wash3 • Green Man1 • Hambleton's Round O5 • Happy Pair6 • Hare Hatch1 • High Ginks4 • Huntington's Maggot2 • I Often For My Jenny Strove1 • In the Fields in Frost and Snow2 • John the Madman5 • Johnny Cock Thy Beaver4 • Jolly Cooper6 • Joy After Sorrow6 • Kings Arms Assembly5 • Ladies Joy3 • Lord Anson For Ever6 • Love and Beauty2 • Love and a Bottle1 • Love's Triumph4 • Mars and Venus2 • Merry Companion3 • Merry Girls of Maidstone5 • Miser's Jewel4 • Miss Barrett's Waltz3 • Miss Nancy's Delight1 • Miss Sayers' Allemande6 • Miss Silvie's Delight3 • Miss Sparks's Maggot1 • Monk's March with the Wanders2 • Mount Hills1 • Mrs. Hill's Dance1 • Mrs. Savage's Whim3 • New Year's Day in the Morning5 • Paston's Maggot1 • Paul's Alley6 • Philandering1 • Physical Snob2 • Pilgrim4 • Pinks and Lillies3 • Primrose6 • Prince Frederick's Hornpipe2 • Put In All4 • Rakes of Rochester5 • Ratcliff Cross6 • Ravenscroft's Hornpipe6 • Saint Andrews Assembly1 • Saint Brides4 • Saint Giles's Pound3 • Saint James's Beauties1 • Saint Margaret's Hill6 • Sea Nymphs4 • Shropshire Lass4 • Spanish Gypsie3 • Splendid Shilling5 • Sprigs of Laurel2 • Three Coney Walk5 • Tom Jones4 • Top and Bottom3 • Topaz2 • A Trip o'er Tweed3 • Trip to Virginia2 • Tunbridge Walks2 • Union Jigg2 • Vienna5 • Virgins Frolick2 • Westmorland5 • Wildboar's Maggot6 • Wolverton Hall5 • Woodlark5 • Worcester Assembly3 • Young Fox2 • Zephyrs and Flora

On Wednesday, January 31, 2007, Don Curtis from Brighton wrote:
Thanks for your Fallibroome page. I enjoyed it.  Very lively, opinionated and forthright as I would expect from you Colin.

Your page was linked to me by Peta Webb and Elaine Bradtke when I was enquiring about the origin of Huntington's Maggot.
Elaine has excellent hunches she says
'I can't find any solid information on where it came from, but I have some hunches.  It is very Baroque in style, possibly French'

She also says
'The word Maggot, from the French _Magot_, means a whim, or a fancy.  I suspect it was written in the french style by an English composer.  Pepys mentions the Huntington Waits in 1667, so the title could refer to this band of musicians. Or, as it sounds to me, it could be originally from some sort of theatrical work a masque or revel.  There are a body of plays from Elizabethan theatre based on the story of Robert, the Earl of Huntington, also known as Robin Hood.  It is also known that Playford took many of his tunes and dances from courtly sources such as masques and revels.  I haven't been able to find the missing link - which exact play/revel/masque was the source. So this is merely supposition on my part.'

But no one is quite certain. If you can add anything to the above very helpful information I would be delighted and surprised.
Best wishes