Not being immediately in the vicinity to take part in Little Egypt's activities, I rely on Brian "Baggie"
Stephens to keep me up-to-date with the Side's exploits.
And a jolly fine job he does too.
But I was a little surprised to receive details of a gig that took place on 2 July 2006 at Cressing Temple, in Essex.
On 27 June, Baggie circulated the men thus:
"We've just been asked by the organisers of an event at Cressing Barns if we can dance for them this Sunday lunchtime -
apparently they've been let down at the last minute by "another Morris side"!
It's around 30 minutes, there's a beer tent and a fee ..."
Although not clear whether it was the fee or the beer, Little Egypt roused themselves and at such short notice managed to make a
good fist of the gig; Baggie wrote:
"It was a steaming hot afternoon but the men danced diligently to an astonished group who were sitting within an open
sided marquee enjoying their lunch.
Neville introduced each dance with a little historical background which frequently included the word "fertility".
Some members of the audience exhibited emotions from shock through disgust to complete puzzlement.
The final dance, "Fanny Frail" delighted those young fillies taking part but the strawberry & cream contingent were not as
amused as some audiences we've danced for.
Never mind, we got paid and handsomely thanked by the organiser.
Nothing extraordinary there, you might justifiably say - and the pictures bear this out - but I think some further thought needs to be given to this "gig
out of the blue".
Remember: this was less than a month after our triumphal return from le Pays des Cathares in the Languedoc,
where we had been immersed in the history of heresy and slaughter.
"So what?" I hear you mutter, "Little Egypt are all about heresy and slaughter at the best of times."
Well - here's what. In the literature of Catharism, so blatantly "borrowed" in certain modern best-sellers, there
is a strong connection between the lost "treasure" of the Cathars (as in Montségur and Rennes-le-château) and that mysterious group - the Knights Templar.
And guess who built Cressing in the first place.
The Temple's own web site says:
"Cressing Temple is a scheduled ancient monument in Essex, UK.
The site has its origins in the 12th century, when it was the first grant land of land given to the Knights Templar in England.
It is home to the two finest Templar barns in Europe.The site is made up of a group of remarkable farm buildings, the barns,
a Templar well and a Tudor walled garden.
It is now owned by Essex County Council ."
The Templars and Cathars have at least one thing in common (apart from legends of treasure):
brutal persecution at the hands of the medieval Catholic church.
The beginning of the 14th Century was the time when the latter day Cathars of Montaillou were being suppressed by
Bishop Fournier (later to be Pope Benedict XII), and it was Benedict's immediate predecessor Clement V who ordered the suppression of the Templars, the seizure of their
huge exchequer and the torture and murder of their leaders and membership.
Those of us who love conspiracy theories have
been intrigued by the hypothesis that the so-called Turin Shroud is in fact the sheet that was used to wrap the bloodied wounds of Jacqhes de Molay (Templar master) between his torture by the
French authorities and his death at the stake in 1314.
Anyway, I digress. Little Egypt danced at Cressing, and here are some lovely intimate shots of the side at work.
But it makes you think ... what did we really find in France?