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Memories Of Father Ken

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Dick you are welcome to your *own* memories of Father Ken but I feel this particular rant is a bit unfair. He was very kind to me personally and I would not have taken up the concertina if it were not for him.


Even if there were some who were unhappy with certain aspects of his character and choices, Father Ken demands respect in death as he did in life, for the many positive things he did for Morris Dance in England and Concertinas. I was and remain priveleged to have met him and heard him play. RIP.

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William Kimber had no problem with women dancing the morris.


Just as well, considering he shared many a platform with Cecil Sharp, who also had no problem with women dancing the Morris. Whilst I don't share their views, I think that many of the older Morris Ring members felt that, if impressionable young lads saw Morris as a "girl's thing", they wouldn't take it up themselves and the Cotswold and NW traditions would "degenerate" to become indistinguishable from Carnival ("Fluffy") Morris. I'm sure that this (probably mistaken) belief was the driving force behind their apparent prejudice, rather than pure misogyny (although some were undoubtedly guilty of that, too).

Edited by Dave Rogers
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we live in a democracy,we are entitled to different views


Exactly. Which is why we now have three Morris organisations instead of one. Most movements suffer division and upheaval at some point in their histories. As I've already mentioned, Father Ken's attitude towards women dancing Morris was very widely held in Ring circles (it may be still) and I doubt very much if this would have altered had he been in favour of it. I do think that those who shared his views did so out of a passionately-held belief that they were doing the right thing for the future of the Morris. As it turns out, they were wrong - Morris is still reasonably healthy in most parts of the country, it's still developing and changing (rather than being preserved in aspic), and it's still thought ridiculous by a large percentage of the population. ;)


Just as a matter of interest, what do you personally think were Father Ken's reasons for being opposed to women dancing? I don't know the answer myself, although I've already suggested one or two possibilities.

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  • 4 months later...

Twas brillig and the slythy toaves,

did gyre and gymball in the wabe,

all mimsy were the borrowgroves,

and the mome wraths outgrabe.




At the age of 9 at School we read Lewis Carrol's "Alice in Wonderland" - it opened a whole new world of literature for me - the first book that I had ever read and wanted to read again, finding new meaning each time.


At the age of 11 the school Music Teacher played a selection of different types of music including Wagners "Introduction to Act III of Loengrin" - it was the most exciting piece of music that I had ever heard - (there is a story about this but I don't have time at the moment). - I went on to listen to a lot of other music by Wagner, much of which talks deeply into my soul.


At the age of 13 the English Teacher introduced us to Wordsworths poems - the delight of the "Daffodils" and the sadness of the "Sheepfold".


At the age of 15 I saw a performance by the "Beaux of London City Morrismen" a team of men dancers (with policeman hobby horse and a man in a tall hat bashing the dancers with a bladder) - I was utterly excited by this and wanted to do this kind of dancing. I had seen several performances of Ballet, but whilst I loved the music, I was totally uninspired by the ladies prancing around in silly skirts, and men whose only purpose was as a prop for the ballerina. Many years later Rudolf Neuref burst on to the the scene and inspired a whole generation of brilliant male ballet dancers, perhaps if I had seen him at the age of 15 I would have taken up Ballet rather than Morris! (O.K. stop falling about laughing at the Disney vision of Ballet dancing Hippopotamuses). I was able to take up Morris Dancing about a year later and enjoyed over 20 years of happy dancing.


At the age of nearly 17 I met FATHER KENETH LOVELESS, and was absolutely knocked out by his playing both sight and sound. I enjoyed dancing to his playing, and got to know him a little over the years. I had recently taken up the Melodeon and had seen other (english system) concertina players; and thought they were nice little instruments but was very uninspired by the sort of sound they produced. Father Ken told me that he had learned to play from William Kimber of Headington who played a Jeffries Anglo-Chromatic Concertina, but they weren't made any more. Some years later I spotted a couple Jeffries Anglos in an Antique Shop and bought one, and set about playing it in the Loveless manner, and enjoyed several years playing for Morris on it - well to cut a long story short this led to a Jeffries Duett in Ab -which led to inventing an entirely new type of Duet Concertina which I am pleased to say many people now enjoy playing. So you see without FATHER KENETH LOVELESS I would never have even

started playing the Concertina!


As I grew older I learned that Lewis Carrol was said to consort with child prostitutes. Richard Wagner was continually in dept took ruthless advantage of a young King who worshiped him, stole his favourite conductors wife and was said to be anti-semitic, and was Hitler's favourite composer. William Wordsworth was said to be having an incestuous affair with his sister.

I recently read a Biography of Rudolf Neuref which said he was personally not a very nice man, took ruthless advantage of many people who helped them, then dropped them like a hot cake as soon as they were no longer use to him; and didn't care in the least where he stuck his -- (well we won't go there, he paid the price in the end).


As the Millionaire said at the end of the Film "Some Like it Hot" after Jack Lemmon takes off his wig - "Nobody's Perfect !"


I loved Loveless, I am deeply in debt for his inspirational playing, no doubt he would not have approved of women Priests, but we never ever discussed theology, he was too busy living.




P.S. If you didn't understand the Lewis Carrol quote at the beginning you will have to ask Humpty-dumpty.

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... to cut a long story short this led to a Jeffries Duett in Ab -which led to inventing an entirely new type of Duet Concertina which I am pleased to say many people now enjoy playing. So you see without FATHER KENETH LOVELESS I would never have even started playing the Concertina!

Sure, if he hadn't existed, you'd have to invent him! :unsure:

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1)Regards Beaux - I am talking about 1953 - They were very energetic then, this was the very first Mens Morris I had ever seen, as teams get older they do slow up a bit; when did you see them?


2) Which brings me to a bit more of my family history.

In 1913 my Aunt went to teacher training college, and as part of the course learned English folk & country dancing. By the time she qualified a terrible war had broken out and she took up a teaching post in a boys school. There was no interest in that from boys who expected to go off to the trenches as soon as their schooling finished. However she joined a Country Dance Club in Gillingham, Kent doing Trad English dances, Morris, Longsword, and Playford.

She told me that after the war not many men came back; remember that of Cecil Sharp's first Mens Morris team practically all including Herbert Macilwaine who helped C# to write the early "Morris Books", and the promising English composer George Butterworth were killed; I believe of the 6, only Douglas Kennedy survived. One young man she got attached to, weakened by 4 years of warfare promply died the following year in the Flu epidemic.

Well she said "We enjoyed ourselves making our own fun without men during the war, so why shouldn't we continue to do so after it had finished?" There were many other similar (almost entirely ladies) groups, they formed the backbone of the English Folk Dance & Song Society, and financed the building of Cecil Sharp House.


3) In the Fifties of last century through my fathers interest in Balkan Dancing I met Philip Thornton, who had travelled extensively in that part of the world recording folk music (he was a BBC sound recordist) and learning the dances. He wrote 3 or 4 books about his travels, and in one he describes how he brought over half a village of dancers to an EFDSS Albert Hall Festival in the 1930s, where they performed to great aclaim. However he describes how the English dancers all women (my aunt was one of them) plodded round in white dresses doing Playford, donned baldricks and bells and plodded round for morris dances, and linked up with Long-swords to perform sword dances as lifelessly. If I remember it correctly (it's over 50 years since I read Philip Thorntons books) one of the Balkan Villagers said that the English danced like "dead puppets" and that "when a man lives too far from the soil a fire dies in his soul".

It was in 1934 that several Mens Morris Sides joined together to form the Morris Ring - to bring back the fire into the dancing. It was almost immediately interupted by another terrible war, however more men survived this time including Kenneth Loveless, but this time they were determined that morris dancing was not going to reach the same low point that it had after between the two world wars.


4) If you read the Obituary I wrote about Gladys Thorp in the ICA magazine you will see that Father Kenneth played for EFDSS morris dancing classes which included women dancers, so I think that refutes your conjectures about Fr Ken completely against womens morris.



Next week I will see if I can rewrite the hillarious story of Father Ken in his night-shirt and night-cap, from the same ICA article.

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P.S. If you didn't understand the Lewis Carrol quote at the beginning you will have to ask Humpty-dumpty.

There's glory for you.


Thanks for the reminiscenses, Brian. They help to flesh out a period from which I inherited much but know little about beyond the obvious.



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the Wicki system of duet,which is identical to the Hayden,had already been invented.

It was invented in 1896.

the system had already been discovered and had fallen out of popular use.

Hmmm, I wonder whatever happened to all the Wicki instruments then, there should be loads of them available secondhand, if it "had fallen out of popular use" somewhere. :unsure:


Then again, I always thought it was an obscure Swiss patent that nobody had ever heard of... :huh:


I have a tape of RevLoveless,that ChrisTimson gave me,he was a good presenter of his material,and was quite entertaining.

I think Ken was always "a performer", on or off stage. :rolleyes:

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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I first heard that the system had been invented over a hundred years ago,when I bought a Wheatstone hayden duet,from SteveDickinson in 1986,this opinion was confirmed by posts on this forum,by RobertGaskins.

The Wicki System - Concertina.net Discussion Forums28 Feb 2004 ... A full discussion, including a scan of the patent, is on the web at www.maccann-duet.com/wicki/wicki-system-1896.htm ...

www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=801 - 55k - Cached - Similar pages

my informaton came from this and from,concertina library.[RobertGaskins]



I'm well aware of that, thanks! :)


you may be right it was never popular

The question should perhaps be more one of "Was it ever made?" But to say that it "had fallen out of popular use" seems to suggest that they were once commonplace and the Wicki principle should have been well known to anyone interested in/investigating the subject. :huh:


... but to claim as Inventor did that we owe the invention of the Wicki/Hayden in some roundabout way to ken loveless is bizarre ...

Life generally is bizarre, don't you find? (Well I do anyway! :rolleyes: ) But I expect Inventor (Brian) knows better than anybody what inspired him to devise the Hayden layout. ;)

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  • 4 years later...

I'm a bit late in joining this topic - but I've only just found it! I've always like the fact that most folkies know Ken, and all have their own impression of him!


I was very lucky to know Father Ken when I was young - he baptised my sister and myself, and it's from him that I get one of my middle names - and so he was always regarded as an Uncle. He taught me how to mix a pink gin, and then refused to let anybody but me make them when he came for his holidays by the sea. I've found out, in later life, that my parents always used to make his first couple of pink gins with a full measure, and then gradually phase the gin out completely! I was a bit more generous in my measures, not understanding what gin was! I was only 9 when he died, so never got a chance to "experience" him properly.


I think that part of the reason that I play concertina is wanting to pay tribute to Ken, though if I could play it even a thousandth like he did then it might start to be a tribute! It was after I bought my first English that I found out that he played Anglo, but never-mind!


I have a few cassettes at home of and relating the Ken, they are;

  • The recording of his funeral - Thaxted Church, 23rd July 1995
  • An interview with Ken on Radio Sheffield - 4th February 1975
  • A concert at the Victoria and Albert museum - 31st May 1989
  • "A Selection of Songs and Morris Jigs" - recorded at his home in 1992

I'm going to convert the tapes to digital at some point in the (hopefully not too distant) future, and (copyright allowing) would like to make them available. The first and the last are copyright of the Morris ring, so I'll have to discuss it with them (or BFB before he stops running the shop). I haven't had a chance to listen to all of them yet, but there are some wonderful tunes and a chance to hear his inimitable speaking style.

Edited by the_educated_fool
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