Once I Lov'd a Maiden Faire

Maiden Fair

Mayden Fayre

Once I Lov'd a Maiden Faire or Maiden Fair is an English Country Dance. It was found in the Lovelace Manuscript (written somewhere around the 1640s) and later published in The English Dancing Master. It was interpreted by Pat Shaw (website) in 1962 and published in Another Look at Playford. It is a proper Duple Minor dance. It is a multipart dance. The minor set lasts 112 bars.

Lovelace has a little diagram of how the couples should stand: (1s top left, 2s top right, 3s below and between) and describes the dance as:

Leade up twice, and sett twice, then the first man shall sett to the 2nd woman and fall backe agayne, then the first woeman, and 2nd man the like, then the first man, and 2nd woeman shall change places, the first woeman, and second man the like; then the man that was first, shall be in the place, of the 2nd woeman, and shall sett to the 3rd man, and soe thus they shall sett acrosse to each other, and chainge places, like afore; until they come all backe agayne to their owne places;

The 2 first couple shall leade up unto each other, the rest standing still, twice; and backe agayne, then the 2nd couple shall passe through the first, and the first shall goe upwards presently, and pass through them agayne; and come downwards on the out side of them, and then turne before them, and then come below them and after the same manner go on to the rest, until all shall come to theire owne places

Like before, the 2 first couple, shall meete agayne twice, and fall backe twice, then all 4 joyne hands untill the 2nd couple be upmost, and the first couple in the 2nds place, and then eache man turns his woeman, and then lead on iunto the rest, and so until all come unto their places;

Lovelace says "Longways for 6 or 8", Playford says "Longways for as many as will".

Playford writes:

Lead up all a D. and back That again Set and turn S That again

First man and 2. wo. meet a D. and back Then 1. wo. and 2. man as much The 1. man change with the 2. wo. hi into her place, and she into his The 1. wo. and 2. man as much Do thus to all, the rest following.

The 1. man take the 2. man in his right hand, and the 1. wo. the 2. wo. in the left hand, and meet a D. and back That again Then meet and go through between each other, the uppermost man about his wo. and the 2. man between the 1. co. and his own, and turn your faces each to your own, being in the 1. cu. places Then take hands and go half round, and the 1. cu. fall into the 2. cu. places Do thus to all, the rest following.

First man take his wo. in his left hand, and 2. man take his wo. in his right hand, and fall back a D. and meet again That again First man cast off, his wo casting off at the same time into the 2. place, the 2. cu. following them till they come into their own places Cast off again, and the 1. cu. stay in the 2. cu. place Do thus to all, the rest following.

Pat Shaw offers two interpretations of Part 1, the first is a litteral interpretation of Playford but which leaves everyone improper (and given the way dances started in Playford's day seems very unlikely to me), and another version which throws in a partner cross to make everyone proper. I have choosen to implement the second one.

The animation plays at 120 counts per minute normally, but the first time through the set the dance will often be slowed down so people can learn the moves more readily. Men are drawn as rectangles, women as ellipses. Each couple is drawn in its own color, however the border of each dancer indicates what role they currently play so the border color may change each time through the minor set.

The dance contains the following figures: set, turn single, turn single cloverleaf, circle, cast, lead, lead and cast (and probably others).

If you find what you believe to be a mistake in this animation, please leave a comment on youtube explaining what you believe to be wrong. If I agree with you I shall do my best to fix it.

If you wish to link to this animation please see my comments on the perils of youtube. You may freely link to this page, of course, and that should have no problems, but use one of my redirects when linking to the youtube video itself:

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The dance itself is out of copyright, and is in the public domain. The interpretation is copyright © 1962 by Pat Shaw. My visualization of this dance is copyright © 2021 by George W. Williams V and is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website is copyright © 2021,2022,2023,2024 by George W. Williams V
Creative Commons License My work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Most of the dances have more restrictive licensing, see my notes on copyright, the individual dance pages should mention when some rights are waived.