STICKS clashed and bells jingled for St George's Day in Ledbury, last Sunday (April 23), thanks to a mass-meeting of Morris dancers.

Eleven Morris "sides" from all over the Midlands came to perform at various locations, including under Ledbury's iconic building, The Market House, The Master's House, The Brewery Inn in Bye Street and at the Talbot Hotel in New Street.

Large crowds, estimated at times to be "in their hundreds", gathered to watch the dancers go through their paces.

The hosts were Ledbury's own Silurian Border Morris Men, and all the sides performed age-old dances from the Welsh Border area.

Silurian spokesman, former town mayor, Keith Francis said: "We have been doing these dances for nearly 50 years; we had a similar gathering in Ledbury two years ago: it is often referred to as a ‘Black Meet’ as all the performers disguise themselves by painting their faces, usually black, and many wear quite elaborate costumes.

"It was even more successful than two years ago, and I hope we can put on the event again. Those who came certainly enjoyed themselves."

Mr Francis added: "Most of the visiting sides were mixed sides - men and women, which is all part of the ongoing development of Morris dancing."

Dances performed including the dramatic stick dances, which are particular to the border areas, including the Ledbury region

Visiting sides came from as far as Preston, Leicester, Stroud, Birmingham and South Wales.

The event started at 11am, by the Market House and the event started with a cheque presentation to St Michael’s Hospice.

Mr Francis said: "At our Wassail in January at Much Marcle, we collected from the bystanders and raised over £800, and Weston’s Cider, as in previous years, agreed to double whatever we collected."

The event was organised not only to mark St George's Day but to celebrate Shakespeare's birthday, which falls on the same date.