A Dance Card

We were recently given a few items found at Spring Villa. Spring Villa had been the home of the Welch family for at least three generations. Indeed, our museum founder, Peggy (née Welch) Gye had lived there as a little girl and we know her father and grandfather had lived there.

The card donor, who wants no publicity, said to us, ‘You won’t want that card. It’s a grubby little thing’. But we think it is just grand, partly because we have knowledge of the family and can piece together a story.

This is a homemade card on which the names of the dances to be played were written down and against it the name of the partner who had been pre-asked.

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One side looks like this. We can see that the dance took place in the school room in Market Lavington on the 17th January 1902. The other side names the dances and has some hard to read names alongside.

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Of course it is interesting to see just what dances were played back in 1902 – the waltz, the polka, a gallop, lancers, quadrille and so on. But let’s now think about who wrote this card.

From the writing, as well as the place this was found, we are just about certain this card belonged to Jack Welch – Peggy’s father. James Frank Welch, to give him his full name, was born towards the end of 1888 so he would have been 13 at the time. No doubt he felt very grown up completing a dance card like this.

OK, we can’t work out who many of his partners were but certainly ‘Doff’ features and we think this was his little sister, Dorothy. He had the pleasure of a polka and a barn dance.

Mrs Akers appears as a waltz partner. Her husband was a grocer. In 1901 the family lived in Easterton but between 1901 and 1911 Dad Rupert Akers, his wife Jane Acres and a daughter called Dorothy had moved into the middle of Market Lavington and Rupert was the manager of the grocery department of Mr Walton’s department store.

Later, Jack danced with Miss D Akers. This was Dorothy, the daughter of Rupert and Jane who was a year or so younger than Jack.

Some of Jack’s partners are only given initials and others just first names. We are not sure who they were.

But we do feel we get a peep into Edwardian life with this card – it all sounds elegant and quite formal. We think it is a really lovely item and we thank our donor (who doesn’t live in the Lavingtons) very much indeed.

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