Miss Gayton’s Hornpipe

Research projects in progress: Who was Miss Gayton?

I’m interested in “Miss Gayton” because there is a tune known in the folk fraternity by this name, and a step dance collected by Tom & Joan Flett from  a family of dancing teachers in Ayrshire in the 1950s. Then there is Esther Gayton, a ballet dancer who was a big star for just one year -in 1808 – before making a very advantageous marriage and leaving the stage forever. How the two are linked is proving very interesting.

This tune was also featured on a barrel-organ taken by Sir William Edward Parry on his Polar expeditions 1819-1825. The barrel-organ contained many pieces of dance music, designed to provide the crew with some healthy diversion whilst ice-bound over the winter months.  You can now read all about this on my new website Unsung Histories: “A Barrel Organ in the Arctic”

I’m thrilled that dancer Simon Harmer used some of my research into Miss Gayton’s Hornpipe in his community dance project “Step Your Way”, a superb exploration of traditional hornpipe steps and street dance traditions, in January 2021.  A short video of this truly inspiring project is here.

This article is due to be published on my Unsung Histories website in August 2021.