Item BCA - 2018.1312 - William Nathan 'Jingy' Wells, playing his fiddle and a close look at his clothes

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BCA - 2018.1312


William Nathan 'Jingy' Wells, playing his fiddle and a close look at his clothes


  • first half nineteen hundreds (Creation)

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pdf of 17 photographs

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Jingy Wells, real name William Nathan Wells danced for many years and played the fiddle for even more. His first fiddle he made from a large corned beef tin for a sound box and a broom handle. He was completely self taught. After an eye infection which he left too long before getting medical help, Jingy's sight remained very poor. In the 19th century, a musician would have had a personal repertory of tunes he could play, but not all would be suitable to accompany Morris dancers. Tunes in 6/8 and 4/4 time work best. Above all, there has always been a need for a strong beat, loud enough to be heard over six sets of bells. Before 1840 the most common accompaniment was a combination of two instruments, played together by the same man, that being a three holed pipe called a whittle (also known variously as a whistle, or wit or fife) and a tabor (also known variously as a drub or drum.) Jingy wore very distinctive clothing when playing his fiddle for the Morris which you can see in these photographs. The Bampton Traditional Morris Men still have these items. In the picture of the dancers at Weald Manor, on the right-hand side you can see Roy Shergold in his Merchant Navy clothing; Roy came home on leave that morning and as one of the dancers was too drunk to continue dancing, Roy was persuaded to step in at once before going home to change into Morris whites.

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