St Albans Morris Men
The Betley Windows
These pages of our website discuss everything you ever wanted
know about The Betley Window and its copies - and probably more!
I hope you will dip into the bits that interest you most, or perhaps follow the suggested Guided Tour signposts at the end of each page.
First, a couple of basic questions you may wish to ask:
The original "Betley Window" which is now (Spring 2002) in the British Galleries of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, England, is famous for containing what antiquarians interpret as a very early representation of morris dancers. This photo is reproduced by kind permission of the V&A - click on it for a larger version. Much more about this original window later.
If you've seen morris dancing these days - or if you've just visited a few web sites and looked at some photos - you'll probably see little resemblance between the figures in the window and today's dancers. But it's not surprising that things have changed a bit in nearly 500 years! If you're lucky, you may well see a pipe-and-tabor player or a hobby horse, as shown right, at a 21st Century morris performance. Click on the pictures to visit other sites related to these subjects - but do come back here afterwards!
As for the second question, Betley is a village in Staffordshire, England, where the original window was installed, and where a copy remains to this day. I am indebted to Patrick Corness, "a Betley man in exile", whose help enabled me to start a paper chase of references and thereby collate the information on this site. Patrick's web site is well worth a visit for other information about Betley and local Staffordshire history.
The three principal versions of the Window are full-colour versions in glass - namely the original in the V&A, the copy (1981) still in Betley, and another copy (1901) in the Museum and Heritage Centre, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey. However, more versions in different materials are coming to light as people visit this site, and I will add information as it becomes available to me.
Do let us know of any other examples you can provide.
Guided Tour: I suggest you now visit the page describing the Original Betley Window.
The Betley Window content of St Albans Morris Men's website began in 1998 as a single page and has grown considerably, as you can see. It was developed by John Price, and comments and additions are always welcome. It is nice to use these pages as a collecting point for information about different kinds of copy, and for other related references.
Original Betley window Kingston-upon-Thames copy Betley Court copy Alison Bailey copy Ruth Dodworth copy Susan McKenney copy
Characters in the Windows Conclusions? Two 19th Century Views of Morris Foreign connections
References and Acknowledgements
John Price 2006. Comments to St Albans Morris Men's webslave