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Plaque tribute to folk dance expert
Buy this photo » Pictured with villagers at the blue plaque unveiling are, front from left, morris dancer Gerard Robinson, Trinity College president Sir Ivor Roberts and historian Mike Heaney, Mr Tiddy’s biographer
A FIRST World War hero who was instrumental in the research of folk dancing and funded a community hall has been honoured.
A Blue Plaque recognising Reginald Tiddy, who died on the Somme, was unveiled at the Ascott-under-Wychwood hall that bears his name on Saturday.
Mr Tiddy’s research into the traditional dance of mumming, from his days as an Oxford University Fellow and lecturer, is still being used to this day.
Bodleian Libraries executive secretary Mike Heaney, who spoke at the unveiling, said: “There are two things that make Mr Tiddy very interesting.
“The first is that he was, 100 years ago, one of the first people to start research into our folk law, specifically into our mummers plays, in a serious way.
“His research was the main source of information on mummers plays for the last 100 years.
“Over the last 20 years a lot more has been done, but no one can be active in the field unless they know about and use his work.
“Secondly, he was very much involved in the local community life and he built a hall at his own expense for the community to enjoy. He was very much active on the behalf of the working classes and the agricultural labourers, trying to improve their conditions.
“The village hall has been the centre of village life now for the last 100 years.”
Mr Tiddy was born in Margate in 1880 and won a scholarship to University College, Oxford.
He went on to become Classics Fellow at Trinity College and then university lecturer in English literature – a new subject at the time.
While in Oxford, he started a branch of the English Folk Dance and Song Society and performed in a side known as the Dancing Dons.
Before his death, Mr Tiddy collected some 33 mummers’ plays, travelling round villages to find new examples.
They were published by his friends in 1923.
Mr Tiddy moved to Ascott-under-Wychwood in 1909, later living in the village’s Priory Cottage, and, in 1912, built the village a new hall.
In 1914, he volunteered for military service.
Resisting suggestions he should transfer to the safety of the Intelligence Corps, he was promoted to Lieutenant with the 2nd/4th battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in 1915. He was posted to the Somme in May 1916 and, while searching for wounded men on August 10, was hit by a stray shell and killed.
Deputy Lord Mayor of Oxford Mohammed Abbasi, who attended Saturday’s unveiling, said: “Reginald Tiddy did a lot for Ascott-under-Wychwood.
“The community is very proud of him and we in Oxford are also very proud of him as well.
“I hope the plaque will inspire future generations.”