The Witch and the Fool

Black Annis

Black Annis, so some say, was a witch who lived in the Dane Hills area of Leicester. She was reputed to lure children to her lair, devouring their flesh and bones and hanging their skins out to dry. Each year on midsummers eve, we celebrate Black Annis’ memory by dancing at the site reputed to be Black Annis’ lair (or bower), a secret location in the Western Park area of Leicester. Look out for the rare and spectacular appearance of Black Annis at some of our dancing displays. She will make the feint hearted tremble with her wizened brow and slack lips!

Black Annis and Big Willy win the Scarecrow Competition at Evington Village Fete

In case you think we made all this up – we are corroborated by a man who died before even some of our older members were born!

Where down the plains the winding pathway falls
From Glenfieldville to Leicester’s ancient walls
Nature, or art with imitative power
Far in the glen hath placed Black Annis’ bower
Yea, though the false truth of former days
Foul not the path where falsehood artful lay
Black Annis held her solitary reign
The dread and wonder of the neighbouring plain
Tis said the soul of mortal man recoiled
To view Black Annis eye so fierce and wild
Vast talons foul with human flesh there grew
And features livid blue glared in her visage
Whilst her obscene waist,
Warm skins of human victims close embraced


William Morris (Big Willy to his friends)

Big Willy

One of our members does not conform in terms of kit or gender (ambiguous, androgynous and even ambidextrous). He is our fool, Big Willy (short for William Morris). He livens up the dances by providing humours distractions, mirth and general frivolity.

Betsy – the ‘lady’ Molly dancer

In the winter Big Willy takes a well earned rest from all those women.  He is replaced by the ‘lady with the broom’ or that Molly tart Betsy as she is better known. She is pictured here with some tall dark strangers at Cheltenham festival a few years ago.