Betley Window


Betley Window
   A painted glass window, formerly in Betley Hall, Staffordshire, but now at Leigh Manor, near Minsterley, Shropshire, and dated between 1509 and 1536. The window has twelve roughly diamond-shaped panels which portray, in colour, six dancers, a musician, a hobby horse, a friar, a fool or jester, a female character, and a maypole with the words 'a mery May' across it. The window's content was first brought to the attention of scholars by George Tollett, who contributed a description to Johnson and Steevens's influential edition of Shakespeare published in 1778, as a note to Henry TV part 2. It was long thought to be one of the most important pieces of visual evidence regarding the early history of *morris dance, the *hobby horse, and the *May games, but the nature of this evidence is, however, problematic. Some of the figures on the window are so similar to those on a work by the 15th-century Flemish engraver Israel van Meckenhem as to call into serious question their relevance to England, and *Dean-Smith deplores the false conclusions based on the assumption that the figures are English.
   ■ E. J. Nicol, JEFDSS 7:2 (1953), frontispiece, 59-67; Margaret Dean-Smith, Folklore 79 (1968), 161-75.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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