Cecil Sharp, a great pioneer of the folk music revival, was spending Christmas with his wife Constance and their children, at the home of Constance’s mother. She lived in Headington, at Sandfield Cottage which (despite its name) was
quite grand house where building work had been recently done by the local firm of Knowles & Son. Foreman of the gang was a morris dancer and brilliant concertina-player named William 'Merry' Kimber.
On Boxing Day 1899 Kimber appeared at the house
with the Headington morris dancers. They were not looking to make history - only to earn some money, as bad weather had led to a shortage of building work.
Sharp saw the dancers performing ‘Laudanum Bunches’ with Kimber playing the concertina,
and was fascinated. He had until then been wholly unaware of the morris tradition. Sharp asked Kimber to come back the next day to play the tunes while he wrote them down.
So began a long and dynamic relationship. Kimber became Sharp's informant on
the Headington Quarry Morris tradition - which had a recorded history stemming from the late 18th century. And Kimber went on to partner Sharp at lectures. Sharp spoke and Kimber played the concertina, also demonstrating the dances with great vigour and
A nationwide revival of the morris followed. Existing traditions were explored with passionate interest, and a number of Morris clubs came into being to support the traditional teams still dancing. In Oxfordshire, it was found that besides
Headington Quarry, towns and villages such as Bampton, Abingdon and Eynsham also possessed vigorous traditions maintained from early times.