The Betley Window
I have no hard facts about the location or symbolism of the Betley
Window, so what appears here is largely opinion. I am interested in
learning more about the window, so if you have facts about location,
dates, maker, patron or whatever, please let me know. I am also
very interested in obtaining a color picture of the window.
The Betley Window, shown below, is alleged to have been made sometime
between 1509 and 1536. It shows what looks like a Morris Team consisting
of six dancers, a Fool, a Hobbyhorse, a
Pipe & Tabor player, plus
some ancillary characters who might be a May Queen and a Friar.
In the center is Maypole with a banner carrying the words "A MERY MAY"
The Betley Window
In his book
Illustrations of Shakspeare, and of ancient manners: with
dissertations on the clowns and fools of Shakspeare;
on the collection of popular tales entitled Gesta
Romanorum; and on
the English Morris dance, published in London in 1807,
Francis Douce (1757-1834)
The painted glass window belonging to George Tollett, Esq., at Betley,
in Staffordshire, exhibits, in all probability, the most curious as
well as the oldest representation of an English May game and morris
dance, that is any where to be found. The learned possessor of this
curiosity, ... has supposed that the window might have been painted
in the youthful days of Henry the Eighth, when he delighted in May games;
but it must be observed that the dresses and costume of some of the
figures are certainly of an older period, and may, without much
hazard, be pronounced to belong to the reign of Edward the Fourth.
The book features engravings on wood by J. Berryman, and the
various panes in the window are numbered and discussed at length
in the text.
"A New Edition" published in 1839 claims engravings on
wood by Jackson.
Three of the dancers on whom it might be visible are wearing codpieces.
Is there some kit possibility there? (Rock Creek take note!)
Up to Morris
Corrections, additions or comments?
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Original March 1995
Last modified: Jan 30 22:24 1996 /