American Morris Newsletter  

American Morris Newsletter

Volume 28, Number 1
May Day, 2008

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 In Celebration of Morris in America  

The Squire Who Never Was!
Ivor Allsop

In 1949 Richard Callender was elected as the 5th Squire at the 28th Meeting of the Morris Ring in Thaxted. Unfortunately he died before he could take up the office. But what of the man? We need to start at the beginning.

Richard Callender was born at 3, Barnsbury Square, London on September 29th, 1893 the second son of Hugh William (G.P.O Clerk) and Mary J. Callender (née Martin). Nothing is known of his early schooling but he eventually joined the army as a "boy-soldier" and served in the London Regiment rising to the rank of acting Regimental Sergeant Major. He saw service in Egypt where, according to his medal card, he went on August 10th, 1915 at the tender age of 21 as a Company Sergeant-Major. He was reportedly the youngest or one of the youngest CSM's in the army, he was twice mentioned in despatches and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal and the Territorial Force Efficiency Medal. According to his obituary he was also:

...Commissioned in the field, he fought in the Salonika and Palestine campaigns, was twice mentioned in dispatches, and was awarded the M.C.1 and 2

In the Second Supplement to The London Gazette of Friday, the 11th of January, 1918: 3


War Office, 12th January, 1918

The following Despatch has been received by the Secretary of State for war from General Sir Archibald Murray, K.C.B., late Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force:

General Headquarters
28th June, 1917
MY LORD, - I accordance with the concluding paragraph of my Despatch, dated 28th June, 1917, I have the honour to enclose here with a list of those Officers, Ladies, Non-commissioned Officers and Men whose names I wish to bring to your notice for gallant or distinguished conduct in the Field, or for other
valuable services. I have the honour to be, My Lord,

Your most obedient Servant,
Egyptian Expeditionary Force.


Mentioned in Despatches

 Callender, No. 450206 Co. Serjt.-Maj (actg.
 Regtl. Serjt. -Maj.) R.M. ...

I have included all the information from this entry to show that Callender was, at the very least, on an acting commission as a Warrant Officer. I have searched through all the London Gazettes for First World War under the name Callender and there is nothing about how or why Richard Callender won the Military Cross. (This is a medal which is only awarded to Officers and Warrant Officers 1st and 2nd Class). It was introduced in December 1914 along with the Other Ranks Military Medal, but he was definitely awarded the medal. I have not been able to find out when he left the army but presumably it was about 1919. He was living with his parents at 44, Digby Road, N.4. when he left the army.

The earliest mention of his connection with the English Folk Dance Society was in 1920 in the speech made by Douglas Kennedy when proposing the health of the Squire-elect, Richard Callender at the Thaxted Feast. (See below). This was to prove a very fortuitous meeting for Callender because this is when his association with the English Folk Dance Society began; he was elected as a member to the English Folk Dance Society in 1921. He also attended the Summer School at Cheltenham where he met Cecil Sharp in 1921.4 Having left the army, he now needed to earn a living and became an assistant schoolmaster, where he trained and which were his first schools I have not been able to find out. In 1922 he joined the teaching staff of the E.F.D.S. This was in addition to his full time job as a schoolmaster and was a somewhat meteoric rise since he only became known to Douglas Kennedy in 1920. On July 31st, 1926 he married Mahala Bunting Love (27). She was born in Cromer, Norfolk but was living at Hatch Park Gardens in Mersham at the time of her wedding. She was also a teacher.5 She joined the E.F.D.S in that year either in her own right (she was living at 18, Woodbury Grove, N.1.) or as a direct result of meeting Callender. In the 1926-27 Annual Report they appear as Mr. & Mrs. R.M. Callender, 83, Highbury Station Road, N.1.6 She would, of course, have had to resign her post as an assistant schoolmistress as this was the rule for female teachers when they married before the Second World War. By 1927, they had moved back to 44, Digby Road, N.4.7 where his widowed mother lived. He joined the staff at the adult education centre at Morley College in 1928 where he was responsible for teaching Physical Education and for Folk Dancing. I have been unable to find out whether this was a full-time appointment or whether he was still teaching in a school. (Apparently the records for the staff at Morley College were lost during the Second World War):


A new development early in the season was the formation of a Club Team, for the training of which the College authorities subsequently granted a special class, under Mr. Callender. During the season, teams drawn from this class have upheld the honour of Morley at the E.F.D.S. Albert Hall Festival, and at competitive and non-competitive festivals at Wimbledon, Central London, Caterham and Reading, as well as providing the E.F.D.S. with two sets of eight for demonstrations at its Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath fixtures.8

This set the pattern for the Morley College Folk Dance Club and their teacher for the next few years taking part in many competitions and displays around London and the Home Counties.

There had been a number of visits to the Netherlands by teams of dancers from the English Folk Dance Society beginning in the autumn (Fall) of 1924, the year Cecil Sharp died. In the week after Easter in 1932 a group of sixteen members of the now English Folk Dance and Song Society arrived at the Hook of Holland to be greeted by Mr. and Mrs. Van der Ven. There were thirteen dancers, two musicians and a singer in the party.


Mr. Douglas Kennedy, director of the E.F.D.S. triumphantly holds up "The Lock" during their performance of "The Earsdon Sword-dance" in the Maurick [te Vught Castle] court-yard. 4 April 1932 [Richard Callender is on the extreme left as you look at the photo].9

The tour started in the North Brabant capital, s'Hertogenbosch where the cathedral carillon played Sellenger's Round, Gathering Peascods, Down by the Swanee River and other appropriate ditties.10 Other places visited included Leiden, Arnheim, Amsterdam and the Hague.


The burgomaster of s'Hertogenbosch, Mr. F.J. van Lanschot, receives the "Staff" of the E.F.D.S., at an old fashioned Brabant coffee table in the famous Den Bosch town hall cellar on behalf of the local council. 4 April 1932. [Richard Callender is standing on the extreme right of the photograph].11

During their visit to Arnheim the E.F.D.S. team performed in Stadsschouwburg [Town Theatre] to great acclaim.

After being a member of the EFDS team in Holland in 1932 Callender lead the EFDSS team to Finland in September 1933 and was in the Society's Rapper team which performed at the International Folk Dance Festival, July 15th - 20th, 1935. As well as performances of the national dances from eighteen countries by the traditional sides in the Royal Albert Hall on three days and at Lambeth Palace, the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury on the fourth day, there was also a conference where papers were given on such diverse topics as Folk Dance Wedding Customs in Poland; Morris and Moresca to Sybolism in Dance by such luminaries as Violet Alford, Rodney Gallop, Douglas Kennedy and Richard Wolfram.


E.F.D.S.S Rapper Team at the International Folk Dance Festival 1935
[No.1 Richard Callender, No. 2 Willie Thorn, No. 3 not known, No. 4 Willie Ganiford, No. 5 Tommy Adkins, Musician not known.]


After the Inaugural Meeting of the Morris Ring at Cecil Sharp House on October 20th, 1934, during the winter Morley College Morris Men applied for association in the Morris Ring. They attended their first Ring Meeting at Thaxted on May 31st - June 2nd, 1935 where they were admitted into association in the Morris Ring.

Presumably Callender would have been present at this meeting as a member of the College Morris Men. In 1936, he was back in the Netherlands leading the Easter School at Oosterbeck, near Arnheim. He was still teaching the Morley College Folk Dance Club and emceeing their monthly dances. For the rest of the 1930s, Richard Callender was busy teaching at Morley College, and running various weekends either for or on behalf of the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

He was at the Morris Ring Meeting held in Thaxted on June 10th, 1939 where he accepted the Staff of Office on behalf the Dutch Morris Men. Could this have been the De Meihof Morris Mannen?

A business meeting then followed, the Bagman read the minutes of the last meeting, which were confirmed and signed. The first continental club to join the Ring, a side of Dutch dancers, was then presented to their English representative, Richard Callendar (sic).12 Richard Callendar (sic): An EFDSS teacher and member of its demonstration sides. He had close connections with Morley College, and was largely responsible for building up the Dutch club "De Meihof Morris Mannen". In 1949 he was elected Squire of the Ring, but died before he take up office.13

Also in 1939 he led an EFDSS team at the International Folk Dance Festival in Stockholm, Sweden.
Throughout the Second World War Callender was busy emceeing dances for both Morley College and the English Folk Dance and Song Society, taking weekends of dance up and down the country.

On April 16th, 1941, Mrs. Callender gave birth to their daughter, Mahala Mary

June 17th, 1944, Cecil Sharp House re-opened with temporary building work to make the place habitable completed; the National Team with the exception of Willie Ganiford (who couldn't get leave) was led in the dancing by Richard Callender. On December 2nd of that year Callender was first elected on to the EFDSS Executive Committee he also became the Director of the Christmas School at Chelsea Polytechnic.

His work for the Society and Morley College continued throughout 1945 and 1946 but the Morris Ring had gone into abeyance at the beginning of the war, the last meeting being at Cecil Sharp House on March 10th, 1940, as most of the members of the Morris teams were in the forces or doing war work. On March 23rd, 1946, the Morris Ring held its first meeting after the war, again in Cecil Sharp House when about 100 men attended,


...representing the following clubs: Balgowan, London Pride, Morley College, St. Albans, Salisbury Springhead and Stansted.14

1946 was also the year that Richard Callender returned to Holland to run, first the Christmas Folk Dance School, at Ommen and then Easter Folk Dance Weekend at Lunteren, both in Holland, after the Stratford-on-Avon Summer Festival, Callender went to a course organised by the Folk Dance Society of Flanders, near Brussels, the finale of the week was a festival held in a dance salon in Molenbeck which was broadcast by Radio Belge. This was followed by another week long course again in Lunteren.15 During the Sunday of Stratford Festival the Morris Ring held its Ring Meeting.

During the Sunday, the Morris Ring held its meetings and Feast and in the evening the Festival dancers were organised into three companies (led by Alec Hunter, Kenworthy Schofield and Richard Callender) which danced in different parts of the town on the following day.

The Bank-Holiday was fine and sunny and the town was crowded with visitors. While the Bampton Dancers and two of the Festival Companies processed through the streets, the third opened the Festival in the Theatre Gardens with a large audience. This swelled to overflowing as the other companies arrived, each with its own stream of onlookers. The performance of the Morris and Sword dances were interspersed with bouts of country dancing i9n which the onlookers took part as far as the dancing space permitted.16

Throughout 1946 and 1947 he alternated with Douglas Kennedy as the caller for the Square Dances which were held at Cecil Sharp House whilst still finding time to teach at Morley College Folk Dance Club. In 1947 in the magazine De Meiboom [The May Tree] there is an interview with Richard Callender where he talks about the formation of a Dutch Morris Ring, attending Ring events in England and

"Our Squire this year is Douglas Kennedy. Last year it was me..." 17

I have not been able to find out who the 'our' is. It is possible that the De Meihof Morris Mannen might have survived the war and he is referring to them.

1948 was a rather quiet year for Callender, he was the MC at the Morley College New Year Party which they held in Cecil Sharp House and where he was presented with a wallet for all that he had done for the club. He was also the MC for a couple of dances for the EFDSS in Cecil Sharp House. No year would be complete without his visits to the Continent and this year was no exception during the Easter holiday he went first to Belgium before going on to The Hague, in Holland where the Dutch Folk Dance Society held their Easter Course where he helped with the examinations for the Dutch students. Morley College Folk Dance Club made full use of Callender's talents at the beginning of 1949 getting him MC their New Year Party yet again and making a presentation to him for his services to the club. This time he was given a Ronson Cigarette Lighter.

In February 1949, Bob Ross, the Ring Bagman, sent out a circular about the 27th Ring Meeting at Cecil Sharp House on March 26th detailing the programme and the fact that the men will have to find their own lunch although there will be a feast in the evening. The following interesting paragraph gives some idea of how the Squire was elected and when:

Part of the circular to the 27th Meeting of the Morris Ring at Cecil Sharp House

Although there would appear to be a 'cut-off' date for nominations they could and would be accepted at the meeting, there is no mention of electing a new Bagman on the circular. This led to a rather sharp handwritten letter from Kenworthy Schofield to Bob Ross which begins

Dear Bob,

As you are well, no doubt, well aware, the Bagman, as well as the Squire, has to be elected on March 26th. Of course you are eligible for re-election whereas Arthur [Peck] is not, but your re-election is not automatic, and it is quite in order for other candidates to be nominated.

It goes on in a similar vein for another page and as one would expect this rather upset Bob Ross, who takes umbrage at this and asks for an apology which he eventually gets. All the while nominations are arriving for the office of Squire, Cambridge and Bedford Morris Men nominated Frederick Hamer on March 15th, 1949, St Albans Morris Men (Kenworthy's team) nominated Geoff Metcalf for Squire and John Strange for Bagman. Bob Ross then sent out a notice


The following have been nominated for election
as Squire of the Morris Ring:

Geoffrey Metcalf of Ravensbourne by St. Albans

Frederick Hamer of Bedford by Cambridge

Prior nominations for election are not mandatory and any other name can be considered at the club representatives meeting on March 26th.

It will be seen that there is no mention of nominations for the Bagman.

Needless to say there is always one club which will take the line 'we can nominate on the day'. Morley College were such a club and held a meeting on the Thursday before the Ring Meeting and they nominated Richard Callender for Squire and Robert Ross for Bagman..

The handwritten Log of the 27th Meeting shows:


A meeting of club representative was held immediately after tea at which the first business was the election of a Squire. It was decided, after some discussion, that, since on of the nominations had been received by the bagman only on the previous day, this should postponed until the Thaxted meeting, when only those persons nominated well in advance would be considered. It was also decided, on the motion of the Cambridge men, and seconded by the Letchworth Morris Men, to propose at the Thaxted meeting amendments to the constitution which would ensure that nominations were made well in advance in future. A further amendment, to provide that the elections of Squire and Bagman respectively should take place in alternate years, was also to be put forward, proposed and seconded by the same clubs.19 

The election was, therefore, held over until the Thaxted Meeting by which time Kenneth Constable (Hon. Treas. EFDS.) had added his name to the list of nominees, being nominated by East Surrey Morris men on April 23rd, 1949.

The amendments to the constitution were put to the club reps meeting and were passed. There is nothing in the Second Log Book about the voting numbers, just that Richard Callender was duly elected:


All re-assembled in the Church Hall for tea which was followed by the formal meeting of the club representatives at which the following amendments to the Constitution were passed unanimously:

Add to Article 4:
"at least one calendar month before the meeting at which the election is to take place, and these nominations shall be circulated by the Bagman at least three weeks before this meeting."

Add to Article 4, after the preceding:
"The election of Squire and Bagman shall take place in alternate years."

The election of a Squire then followed and Richard Callender was successful.20

Callender must have got a majority of the votes cast even though he was not present at the meeting although Morley College Morris Men were. After the Feast, Douglas Kennedy gave the toast to the Squire-elect:


At the conclusion of the meal the toasts of the King and the honourable Cecil Sharp were drunk and the Douglas rose to propose the health of the Squire-Elect. It was, he said, a pleasure for he had known Richard Callender since 1920 and knew he had had a great influence in encouraging Morris Men. Also he knew the [Beaux] of London and got on very well with them. What he had done and what he would do justified his election.21

This is a rather fulsome recommendation from Douglas Kennedy when one considers the calibre of the other nominees, two of whom, Fred Hamer and Geoff. Metcalf became the next two Squires of the Morris Ring and Kenneth Constable became the treasurer of the EFDSS, as well as the model for the illustration on the front cover of the Ring brochure The Morris and Sword Dances of England Pub: The Morris Ring, in the early 50s only being superseded in 1978 by the revised edition which featured Green Man's Sword and Morris Club performing the Lichfield dance, Castlering, on the front cover instead of Constable.

Richard Callender should have taken over at the 29th Meeting of the Morris Ring to be held at St Albans on September 10th, 1949; this was not to be as he was leading a delegation of the English Folk Dance and Song Society at the International Folk Music Festival in Venice from September 7th to 11th, 1949.


...It was a matter of regret to all that Richard Callender's inability to be present necessitated the cancellation of the item "The new Squire dances himself in"...22

There is some doubt among some people as to whether or not Richard Callender should be classed as the fifth Squire as he did not dance in. This was a custom begun by Douglas Kennedy and continued ever since. But to my mind it is the election which is the important event, the 'dancing in' is incidental to being Squire. Little or nothing is known about Richard Callender now by today's Morris dancers and the reason for this article is to try and rectify this state of affairs.

Callender was, according to people I have spoken to, an outstanding organiser and the most wonderful dancer of his generation. His non attendance at the St Albans Ring Meeting raised some eyebrows as Arthur Peck, the then Squire, wrote to Bob Ross:


I think it must have been H. Moreton who told me, at our Festival on the 23rd, that Richard C. was not coming through for St. Albans. This seemed to me such a serious thing that I took the opportunity of raising the subject with a few men from other Clubs who were present, and they all took a serious view of the situation, notably Kenworthy, who, I gathered, would like to have gone to Venice himself - I don't know if he would have decided to do so, of course - but anyway isn't my own feeling, which please do not mention to any other man, is that this is really not good enough for the Ring, and I incline to think that if the Sq. elect is not present at the time when his nomination comes and does not come through at the time when he should be let in, it is very doubtful whether he is the proper man for the job. I cannot help feeling that we shall feel somewhat foolish if we get to St. Albans, which after all should be one of the most important Ring meetings so far arranged, and find ourselves having to say that the new Sq. is not there to be admitted to office. I felt myself it was a somewhat awkward position at Thaxted. However I feel it is no business of ours to urge him to come to St. Albans. I don't know whether you heard from him after the election. I wrote to him a week later and so far have heard nothing from him. It seems a bit odd that he has not written to either of us to say he is not coming to St. Albans. I should even be prepared, if the Clubs wish it, to go so far as considering declaring the election ineffective, and I cannot help thinking there would be strong reasons for doing so.

This extract from Arthur Peck's letter shows that the nominating Clubs for the other candidates for Squire were unhappy with the way things were working out and that there were 'mutterings in the ranks'. There was no Ring Meeting planned for the autumn so the earliest Callender could have taken up office was in March, 1950.

The following letter from Bob Ross to Callender shows that there was some feeling expressed at the reps meeting at St Albans:

Sidcup, Kent.

5 October 1949
Dear Richard,

As I told you in my letter of May 30th,
you were due to be admitted as Squire of the Morris Ring
at the meeting at St Albans early in September, but as
you were not there it was not possible to do this. I am
therefore writing now as Bagman to tell you of the
discussion which took place then at the meeting of the
Club representatives, and of the arrangements which were

At this meeting it became apparent that neither
Arthur nor Moreton nor I had had any reply to our letters
to you, and I cannot avoid mentioning your failure
to reply and the lack of any statement from you about your
absence from St. Albans has caused a good deal of
disappointment, and even resentment, on the part of the
Clubs, who expected at least a message from you to them
on this occasion. As a result, many of the representatives
were in considerable doubt whether or not you were anxious
to take over the duties of Squire. The Clubs expect an
explanation of this position from you, and in these
circumstances they have asked Arthur to continue in office
until they have had an opportunity of meeting again after
hearing your views.

You will realise, I am sure, that all this puts
Arthur in a very difficult position, and for my part, also,
I find the necessity of writing to you in this way most
embarrassing. It would therefore be very helpful to have
an early indication of your attitude, so that this awkward
situation can be cleared up as quickly as possible.

I could not write to you sooner since, as you know,
I also was not at St. Albans, and I have to learn
what took place from Cassals, who was acting as my deputy,
and from Arthur. I have discussed with them how best to
put the meeting's decision into effect, and they have
both seen this letter and agreed that it is a fair
statement of what passed at the meeting.
Yours sincerely


It seems peculiar that Callender should have made such a public relations 'gaff' but as will be seen from the letter he wrote to Bob Ross there is an explanation:


The amazing thing is that he blames the postal services for loosing his 'long letter' to Humphrey Moreton; we have to accept his explanation because there is no way of disproving it. Bob Ross replies to this with a non-committal letter saying he:


"...must get in touch with Arthur before making suggestions as to how best to straighten things out. I
shall be writing to him today and hope to see him next week-end. Meanwhile I shall let the one or two
other people who knew of my to you know at once your answer. ..."

I presume that the other people he had to let know were Kenworthy Schofield and Alec Hunter, Kenworthy had raised doubts about Callender as Squire and there was a letter from Alec Hunter dated October 7th, 1949 making the point that Richard and Arthur were temperamentally different in reply to a letter from Bob Ross.

Cambridge Morris Men, I think, saw the Morris Ring as their 'baby'. They were the Club which originated the idea of an umbrella organisation for Morris clubs, they provided the first two Squires in Alec Hunter and Kenworthy Schofield, were very approving of Douglas Kennedy as the third Squire since he was the Director of the English Folk Dance and Song Society and also provided the fourth Squire in Arthur Peck as well as providing both Bagmen to date. It must have come as a shock to them and to clubs with a close association with them when their nominations for Squire were not elected, so there is no reason to be surprised at the reactions of Arthur Peck and Kenworthy Schofield or for the letter from Bob Ross to Callender quoted in full above.

Before he could take up the office later and for the Ring to be able resolve the matter, Richard Callender died of a heart attack on November 8th, 1949 at the age of 56 years. His occupation was given as a 'Teacher Secondary Modern School'. The Morley Morris Men went on for another 14 years; I can find no mention of them after the London Ring Meeting in 1963. But I leave the last word on Richard Martin Callender to Geoffrey Mendham (Jockey Morris Men):


...Mendham (who was also at Morley College but after the War, goes on to state he "was noted as the Great War's youngest RSM. I remember him as one of the finest morris dancers I have ever seen; he was a very large man who confounded any idea that morris was effeminate, yet danced with accuracy and grace as well as strength.23


In the first number of De Meiboom (The May Tree) after the death of Richard Callender
this photograph taken on the Paascursus, 1949.

For many people Richard was an unforgettable figure and will appreciate having this photograph.

Front cover of the NCBV (the Dutch Folk Dance Society) Magazine.


1 The Times, 12 November 1949, p.7
2 Honours and Awards Army, Navy and Air Force, 1914-1920.
J.B. Hayward & son. 1979. p. 308 col. 2
3 Number 30474 Second Supplement to The London Gazette Of Friday, the 11th of JANUARY, 1918
4 English Dance & Song,
Vol. XIV No. 1 January 1950 p.7
5 Marriage Certificate - Richard Martin Callender & Mahala Bunting Love July 31st 1926
6 E.F.D.S. Annual Report,
September 1st 1926 - August 31st 1927
7 Ibid
8 Morley College Magazine, Morley College Folk Dance Club, Second Annual Report,
Vol. xl No. 2, November 1929, pp. 23 & 27.
9 De Volksdans Her Leeft
[The Folk Dance Revived]. Dr. E. Vander Ven-Ten Bensel. n.d (1933) [p.45]
10 E.F.D.S. News,
No. 30 Vol. iii Part 6, July 1932
11 De Volksdans Her Leeft,  [p.82]
12 The First Log Book
written and compiled by Walter Abson , First Bagman 1934 - 1946, 1991 pp. 41, 44, and 54
13 Ibid, p. 44
14 Ibid, p. 54
15 Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society,
Vol. v No. 2, 1947, p. 96
16 The English Folk Dance and Song Society Report, September 1st 1945 to August 31st 1946,
p. 3
17 The Morris Ring Circular July 2006 No. 52 p. 5
18 Letter from Kenworthy Schofield to Bob Ross
dated March 6th 1949 2 pp.
19 Typescript of the handwritten Second Log Book: Meeting at Cecil Sharp House
March 26th 1949
20 Typescript of the handwritten Second Log Book: Meeting at Thaxted
March 27th - 29th 1949
21 Ibid
22 Typescript of the handwritten Second Log Book: Meeting at St. Albans
September 9th - 11th 1949
23 E-Mail Chris Metherell,
21.03.2006 1p.

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