Welcome to the Web Site of

The Illustrious Order of Fools and Beasts


A Fool from
the Betley Window

Our Badge

The Hobby-horse
from the Betley Window

This web site is to acquaint you with the activities of some of the more eccentric members of the Morris in the UK and elsewhere.

We have an ancient heritage; the "beasts", can be traced back to ancient times and no king or emperor would have been without his "fool".
We are their modern equivalent and our aim is to add an additional dimension to displays of Morris dancing throughout the country.

Whilst we are all members of our own clubs and organisations, our common interests in portraying a wide range of "characters" bonds us together.
We have an annual get together called an Unconvention, where we provide some entertainment for the public, share experiences and offer advice, (asked for or otherwise), to old and new members. The order is associated with all three UK Morris organisations.


Order Events Membership Officers E-mail contacts Related Events
Badges Founders Members List History News
Fools Gallery About Fools Beasts Gallery About Beasts Some Pictures
Reports Minutes Obituaries Archive Pictures Other Links
Links to
Fools & Beasts Sites
Links to
Unconvention sites
Links to
Morris Character Sites
The Betley Window
(Original site)
The Betley Window
(Duplicate site)

Unconvention 2016

This years gathering was hosted by Wyvern Jubilee at Castle Cary, Somerset, from 28th to 30th October


Members of the Illustrious Order of Fools and Beasts at the Bishop's palace in Wells during the 2016 Unconvention

These occasions are to provide a chance for the varied characters that support the Morris in their own sides to get together. They discuss techniques, problems, technical matters like beast construction and the way the characters interact with the dancers and the audience. However the main aim of the weekend is to have fun, with chatting, eating, drinking, dancing and putting the world to rights comprising most of the activities.

Friday evening gives time to have supper, meet old friends and make new ones as well as getting things organised. Most opt for 'indoor camping', but tents, caravans, motor homes and, (for the wealthy), local accommodation are all options.

With help from one or two local sides, who can cope with this level of disruption, the delegates tour the nearby towns and villages by bus to inflict their unique form of entertainment on the residents and visitors. This year the first stop was to the Heck's Cider farm at Street, where following sampling the produce and quite a bit of dancing, they stocked up for later imbibing.

Wells was the focus of attention for the Saturday and with the Market on that day there were plenty of people to be entertained. One spot in the market area and another by the Bishop's Palace gave plenty of scope to have fun with people of all ages and many nationalities. Many had never encountered Morris dancing before, let alone been subjected to this overkill of English eccentricity, but they all seemed to appreciate our contribution to their lives. They will probably never forget the impact of the Illustrious Order. After lunch, another session by the cathedral went down well with participants and audience alike, although some canine spectators expressed mixed emotions.

A problem with the bus meant quite a few of the delegates had to kill time in a nearby Micro-pub, for which there were few complaints. However, sadly, a stop at Crosscombe had to be abandoned as the evening feast was imminent. Excellent food, good company, sufficient ale, some traditional toasts and much singing, rounded off an enjoyable and eventful day. Taking advantage of the extra hour provided by the return to GMT, either to extend the social evening, or to have an extra hour's kip, is why these Unconventions are usually held on the "Clocks back" weekend. (These Fools are certainly not foolish!)

Sunday, after a hearty breakfast, there was a workshop This time it consisted of a talk by Cliff Marchant, an experienced fool and former Squire of the Morris Ring, about the relationships between characters, dancers and audience members. That was followed by useful comments and discussion about the unique situations in which fools or beasts may find themselves.

The AGM  for this group, which is affiliated to all three UK Morris organisations, is held to sort out business aspects.  Although light-hearted, there are serious matters, such as insurance, health and safety, child protection and the role of the Illustrious Order that need to be addressed. There is no secrecy in the meeting and minutes are published on this web site.

After packing up and clearing the hall, the company moved to Castle Cary for more dancing and larking about, before the delegates set off for their homes all over the country. All in all, this was an enjoyable and well organised event and Wyvern Jubilee Morris Men were thanked for hosting it.

Watch this space for news of next years Unconvention.

You can take six horses to water,

but you cannot make them drink.


The equine division of

the Illustrious Order

at the "Horse Pond"

in Castle Cary.



(John Stait struggles to explain

to a passer-by what is going on.)


Unconvention 2015

This Fools and Beasts Unconvention was hosted by Ripley Morris Men at Cromford on 23-25 October.

Most of the participants at Carsington Water Visitors Centre

Attended by budding and experienced Fools, Beasts and Morris Characters from the Ring, Open and Federation. A truly JMO event!

The Unconvention was based at Cromford Community Centre,
7/9 Market Place, Cromford, Derbyshire DE4 3RE

It involved workshops, a Saturday bus tour to Carsington Water and various other delightful beauty spots!

Sadly the weather was not kind to us, so audiences were small, but who cares when you are having fun!

The excellent feast was at the Greyhound Inn in Cromford.

On Sunday morning the AGM was held. Click here for provisional minutes.

We were ably supported by Ripley Morris Men on both days.

We were joined by Lady Bay Morris from Nottingham for a couple of spots.

There are lots more pictures on the Facebook pages at: https://www.facebook.com/FoolsAndBeasts


JMO Day of dance 2015

This was held in Bristol on April 18th.

As expected there were quite a lot of fools and beasts attending with their sides.

However, some itinerant beasts were roaming the city causing fun and games for children and adults alike.

Trigger, Knotty and Dennis are seen below near the check in at the L Shed before embarking of their unruly tour of the City Centre.

This year the event was arranged under the auspices of the Open Morris by Rag Morris of Bristol.

With some 50 sides and over 500 participants it was a spectacular event and Bristol will never be the same again.

There are lots more pictures on Facebook.

The three beasts above were the stars of probably thousands of photos taken by people from many countries. They are great ambassadors for English eccentricity!


Congratulations to Adam Garland on his appointment as Squire of the Morris Ring.

It is good to have a "Beast" occupying the top job.


At the end of the service at the 2013 Thaxted Ring Meeting, a new etched panel in the "Fools Window" was dedicated to John Colbert of Woodside, Stafford and Cambridge Travelling Morris. It was fitting that John's widow Barbara was present together with a strong contingent of Stafford and Woodside Men.

Maybe other sides should consider further such commemorations.

The new window engraving showing John Colbert in his Green Man Outfit.



East Suffolk Morris Men have had a change of beast. Their longstanding Hobby Horse; Constant Billy, so ably ridden by the late Des Herring has, after many years' in the saddle, retired to a local museum.

 Adam Garland is still appearing as Henry, their Hooden Beast, and they now have Clive, who is master of a new hobby horse.

Adam has written some notes on

Animal Behaviour Hooden and Hobby Horses

This could be useful to other potential beasts and we reproduce them here



We can now publish some very useful tips for Fools and Potential Fools, written in the 90s by Mike Wilkinson, Fool to Dolphin Morris.
If you want to know about the philosophy and technique of our art click here.

The order now has a Facebook presence at  http://www.facebook.com/FoolsAndBeasts?ref=ts
for lots of information and contributions by Members and friends of the order.

You can also follow Rob and Trigger on Facebook.

To send information or comments about the site please contact "Knotty", the webmaster, on knotty@foolsandbeasts.org.uk or call +44 (O)l785 823O67

The links above will take you to the detailed pages of this remarkable organisation.

Links in black are for future expansion. Please bear with us while we compile this site.

Sadly, you can no longer sign our Guestbook, as the Spammers have destroyed it!


 Click for Links

The Illustrious Order is affiliated to The Morris Ring
The Morris Federation
The Open Morris

The Illustrious Order welcomes foolish and beastly members
of other Morris Organisations.

Since the last Unconvention, the Order has decided to accept interested and qualified individuals from other Morris, or similar Folklore Groups, internationally.

If you are interested please contact the Scrivenner or Webmaster.


The order is indebted to many people, including those listed for pictures and information about the people and activities of this very special branch of the Morris Barbara Sunderland, Robert Chisman, John Price, John Edwards, Ellen Burke, Jenny Howard, Peter de Courcy, Julian Kohler, Andy Cooper, John Burke,


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