Sir Roger de Coverley ~ Wilson

Roger de Coverley Roger of Coverly Sir Roger de Coverley ~ Wilson Sir Roger de Coverley

Sir Roger de Coverley ~ Wilson is an English Country Dance. It was devised by Thomas Wilson in 1808 and published in An Analysis of Country Dancing. It was interpreted by George Williams in 2021. Originally a 5 Couple Longways this version is a proper Longways as many as will dance. In this dance the couples are permuted by: 51234. The minor set lasts 64 bars.

Sometimes called the Finishing Dance as it was often the last dance of the evening (See Fezziwig's ball in Dicken's A Christmas Carol). This later evolved into The Virginia Reel

Like the Virginia Reel there are many variants. This one, is, as best as I can make it, the dance that Wilson described in 1820.

Like the Virginia Reel the dance is a longways set for a variable number of couples, usually between 4 and 8.

Wilson writes in 1820:

The top Lady at A and bottom Gentleman at B advance, meet at F, Courtesy and Bow to each other, and then retire to places at A D; then the Lady at C and top Gentleman at B do the same: the top Lady and bottom Gentleman advance to the same Situation and swing with right Hands; the top Gentleman and bottom Lady do the same: then the top Lady and bottom Gentleman swing with left Hands; the top Gentleman and bottom Lady do the same: the top Gentleman and bottom Lady meet and turn with both Hands; the top Gentleman and bottom Lady do the same: then the top Lady and bottom Gentleman meet and Allemande round each other; the top Gentleman and bottom Lady do the same.

The top Couple at A B, pass each other at E, and cross over every Couple till they come to the Bottome, the Lady moving in Direction C D, and the Gentleman in the Line little c and d.* (Should the set be very long, they may cross over every other Couple, missing a Couple ever time; in crossing, the Lady passes in front of the Gentleman, that is, always passing the Gentleman on her Right Hand.)

The top Couple, by crossing over, will now be at the Bottom; they Cross Hands and Promenade up the middle, in the Lines c d; all the Couples follow them, beginning from the Bottom: the Ladies all follow the Lady that commenced the Dance in Line G; and the Gentlemen follow her Partner in the Direction H, by which means they all regain their Situations, except the Couple that begun the Dance, who will now be at the Bottom of the Room.

N.B. This Dance may be performed by any Number of Persons.

In another publication (1809) Wilson describes a dance called "Roger de Coverley", and Playford published "Roger of Coverly" in 1695. Neither dance is much like this one.

(For a long time the first description of the dance that I could find was from 1820, and that is the source of the quote. Later I found the version from 1808. The figure is the same, though the words are slightly different.

The animation plays at 120 counts per minute normally, but the first time through the set the dance is 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 dances of George Williams (including this one) are licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike: CC BY-NC-SA license.
An online description of the dance may be found here.

1-4Long 2nd corners advance, honour, retreat
5-8Long 1st corners advance, honour, retreat
9-12Long 2nd corners advance, right hand turn, retreat
13-16Long 1st corners advance, right hand turn, retreat
17-202nd corners left hand turn
21-241st corners left hand turn
25-282nd corners two hand turn
29-321st corners two hand turn
33-362nd corners regency allemande
37-401st corners regency allemande
41-441s cross, dance around 2s
45-481s cross, dance around 3s
49-521s cross, dance around 4s
53-561s cross, dance around 5s
57-601s promenade to the top, each other couple following as they pass
61-641s cast to bottom, others following to places

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.

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The dance itself is out of copyright, and is in the public domain. The interpretation is copyright © 2021 by George Williams. And is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. My visualization of this dance is copyright © 2019 by George W. Williams V and is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website is copyright © 2021,2022 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.