Glorishears of Brummagem started in 1978, with seven would-be dancers practising at the Bull’s Head, Bishopsgate, Birmingham. They had met previously at local Folk Festivals, and came up with the idea of forming their own women’s Morris side.
Glorishears is the name of a Cotswold hankie dance, and Brummagem is an old colloquial name for Birmingham. Their first public appearance was in 1979 when they danced at several pubs wearing their newly designed kit of crimplene culottes, and a waistcoat decorated with the distinctive heraldic roundel representing Birmingham’s industries.
In 1981 Glorishears joined the Women’s Morris Federation. In 1983 the kit was revised becoming a brown pinafore with white aprons. Glorishears of Brummagem hosted the Morris Federation AGM in Birmingham city centre in 1986, one of the biggest events of its kind to be held in the Midlands.
In 2001 Glorishears successfully bid for a lottery ‘Awards for All’ grant. We ran a competition in partnership with the University of Central England for its students to design a new kit, to be based on tradition but to meet the needs of the twenty-first century. The new blue and green kit was launched in 2002.
Early in the 2000s we branched out and started to perform molly dances from the Fen country. We decided to call ourselves Brummie Gems Molly Dancers referencing Birmingham’s famous jewellry quarter. We chose a different kit, based on clashing patterns and colours and displaying many gems on our waistcoats.
Around the same time we developed our original Brummagem Mummers play, with St. George as the hero and a truly 21st century villain named Lord Litter. We performed this numerous times over the coming years but have more recently moved on to our second play, staring Robin Hood.
During the last few years the traditional custom of wassailing apple trees has become popular once again and we not only wassail our own special tree which we planted outside our practice hall, but we have helped numerous community orchards to wassail theirs too.
Our membership remains strong and not only do we practise and perform together, but we are good friends who socialise outside of our Glorishears activities.
We practise on Sundays at St. John’s Church Hall, Church Road, Perry Barr, Birmingham, B42 2LB 7pm-9pm. New dancers and musicians are always welcome.