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Following in the many footsteps of Will Kempe

PUBLISHED: 10:49 02 May 2015 | UPDATED: 10:49 02 May 2015

Rick Jones returns to Norwich after re-enacting Will Kemp's journey of dancing from London to Norwich in nine days. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Rick Jones returns to Norwich after re-enacting Will Kemp's journey of dancing from London to Norwich in nine days. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2015

In 1600, the actor and dancer Will Kempe, Morris-danced from London to Norwich - and now UEA graduate Rick Jones has recreated his journey.

Comic actor and dancer William Kempe danced the morris from the Mansion House, London, to the churchyard of St Peter Mancroft, Norwich, in a journey he called the 'Nine Days' Wonder' during February and March 1599Comic actor and dancer William Kempe danced the morris from the Mansion House, London, to the churchyard of St Peter Mancroft, Norwich, in a journey he called the 'Nine Days' Wonder' during February and March 1599

It’s known as the Nine Days’ Wonder because of the time it took Kempe to cover the 108 miles.

Freelance journalist Mr Jones, 58, followed in Kempe’s footsteps ahead of the celebrations for the 400th Shakespeare anniversary next year.

Kempe appeared in a number of Shakespeare’s early plays.

His journey began at Southwark cathedral, where he was joined by a fellow UEA graduate, comedian and writer, Arthur Smith.

From there, he danced through Romford, Brentwood, Chemsford, Braintree, Long Melford, Bury St Edmunds, Thetford, Hingham, and finally on to Norwich.

Dressed in garb similar to Kempe’s, complete with jester hat and Morris dancing handkerchiefs – Jones described the trek as “very, very tiring.”

To finish the outfit, the 58 year old also carried a lute, made 35 years ago, by Norwich local David Van Edwards.

Mr Jones said he took on the challenge “just to see if I could.”

The reaction of the public varied, he said: “People were either put off or intrigued. I had horns hooting, people waving and shouting good luck.”

Mr Jones’ official entrance into Norwich will be on May 6, when he will arrive at St Stephen’s roundabout at 9.30am. From here, he will dance into the city centre and up the steps of City Hall, accompanied by other Morris dancers. There he will be greeted by the Lord Mayor, Judith Lubbock.

Mr Jones has had some Morris dance training, as he was taught by the Blackheath Morris group in preparation for the task. His family – wife Ronnie and children John, Bruce and Jane – are unsurprised by his actions, as he has previously recreated other journeys made by Elgar, Bach, Mendelsson and Handel.

Are you undertaking a historical re-enactment? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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