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A Very English Winter: The Unthanks

Rachel and Becky Unthank explore England's winter customs and dance traditions, from Bonfire Night in Lewes to the North East's longsword dancers and East Anglian molly dancers.

Rachel and Becky Unthank continue their journey around England's hidden customs and dance traditions and into the dark heart of its winter pastimes. The follow-up to Still Folk Dancing After All These Years, which explored English folk dances from spring to harvest, this film explores English folk customs around the country though the other six months of the year.

Two hundred years of political intrigue and clashes with police authorities in Lewes on Guy Fawkes Night have created an awe-inspiring procession of burning popes and other effigies of the enemies of the bonfire, not to mention a heavy police presence to this day. Throwing the Yorkshire carols of Sheffield out of the church repertoire has only served to enhance the heart-stopping show of unrestrained joy found in the powerful singing at the Royal Hotel pub in Dungworth.

The longsword dancers of the North East and molly dancers of East Anglia, who have gone collecting funds each year, are a reminder that no higher power puts food on the plate. Just as these customs rely on the communities themselves to mark each point with song, remembrance and a gathering together, the very need to survive lies in the hands of your neighbour.

The Unthanks discover these stories through singing, dancing, meeting people who have grown up with these traditions and trying not to get set on fire.

1 hour

Last on

Wed 18 Jan 2017 01:55



Role Contributor
Presenter Becky Unthank
Presenter Rachel Unthank
Producer Ellen Hobson
Director Ellen Hobson