BackDances by Ellen Taylor

In 2023 there was a flurry of interest on the ECD List in the dances of Ellen Taylor, so I started producing this page and finished it in July.  She published a book, “English Country Dances”, containing 23 of her own compositions, of which the best known is probably “Delia”.  But the dance which made her name was “The Lincolnshire Poacher” which won a national competition and was published in English Dance & Song, Winter 1978.  It says there that she was from Carshalton in Surrey.  Carshalton (now in South London) is about a mile from Wallington, and she wrote two dances for the Wallington Folk Dance Club which was no doubt her local club: “Wallington Golden Jubilee” and “Wallington Diamond Jubilee”.  Ellen said in the ED&S article,

In the Winter 1976 issue of English Dance & Song, a competition was announced to celebrate 75 years of dance in the city of Lincoln.  The only proviso being that it must be to an English tune.

On the spur of the moment, I sat down and wrote a dance to the tune of “The Lincolnshire Poacher” — it being the only Lincolnshire tune I know.  It seemed to be appropriate to the title to poach the figures from other dances, so I make no claims to originality, except perhaps in the way the figures are strung together.  The tune I found rather boring by itself, so I poached the Yorkshire tune “The Huntsman's Chorus” as an alternative.  Almost a year later I heard the news that my dance had won the competition.

The prize was a week-end in Lincoln in October, when I was right royally entertained.  I toured Lincoln by flood-light on Friday evening.  Lincoln is a Roman city, and the authorities make the most of their history by floodlighting various excavations and historic buildings, chief of which is the magnificent Cathedral.  This stands on top of a hill and can be seen for miles around.  On Saturday I was taken out for lunch, and then again round Lincoln and the Cathedral by daylight.  The climax of the week-end was a dance attended by about 120 people, and M.C.'d by Nibs Matthews, at which my dance was presented.  It was danced first by a team who had been practising it, and then by the whole assembly, and was very well received.  There were 22 entries for the competition (seven of them to the tune of the Lincolnshire Poacher!) and I understand my dance won by only 1 point over its nearest rival.

I have put all of Ellen's dances on my website, together with the tunes, but if you want to see Ellen's exact words (or Joan Gilbert's exact chords), here's a PDF of the book.

If anyone can tell me any more about Ellen Taylor, or if anyone objects to me publishing her dances on my site, please Contact me.

The Lincolnshire Poacher3 cu
Delia3 cu
Martin's JigSquare
Ellen's CircleSquare
Carshalton GroveLongways
Cons-sequence3 cu
Salute to High Leigh3 cu
Noughts and CrossesSquare
Mount ParkLongways
Wandle Wakes3 cu
Wallington Golden Jubilee4 cu
A Ruby CelebrationSicilian Circle
Ding Dong MerrilySquare
A Trip to EasthampsteadLongways
Capers in the Snow3 cu
Deck the HallLongways
The Nottingham JubileeSicilian threesome
The Golden RoseSquare
Wallington Diamond Jubilee4 cu
Ellen's Fancy3 cu
The Merrymakers' Jubilee3 cu

In publishing this book, I would like to express my indebtedness to William Ganniford, without whose encouragement I would never have started to write my own tunes.

I am also indebted to Joan Gilbert for adding the harmonies.

Ellen Taylor, 1989