It was at Llanofer that Thomas Gruffydd composed his Llanofer Reel.The dance was danced by the Manor house’s servants to entertain the family and guests. It was Mrs Gruffydd Richards (The harpist’s daughter) and the Headmaster – Mr.T. A. Williams that recalled the dance in 1918 so that the dancing of it could be revived in the school and village. Mrs Richards remembered dancing it at the Court when she was young. The notes and music were published by the Urdd in Welsh in 1934 (Price-2 pence!). Then it was published later in English by Gwynn Publishers LLangollen – “20 Welsh Melodies” and later still as a single publication by the same Publishers (G.P.C.3401+8205).
The dance is for three dancers (One man and two women) – an unusual form in the Queen Elizabeth style of dancing. There are fourteen figures altogether, each having a traditional name e.g.Tua’r Delyn (Towards the harp). This is probably a reference to the fact that it was usual to dance Llanofer Reel in a long column of ‘threes’ in the Banqueting Hall, which was long but reasonably narrow. The column of dancers advanced towards the upper end of the hall where the Head of the Family, other members of the family and favoured guests sat. Exactly overhead was ‘The Musician’s Gallery’ – harpists in this case. This is why the Welsh name for the dance movement involved was chosen rather than the English term for such a movement ‘Honour to thePresence’.
Nowadays when dancing for an audience, dancers adopt the audience as ‘The Presence’ as a mark of esteem, respect and a source of encouragement and appreciation.
This may be where the term ‘hornpipe’ should be referred to. The idea grew that the connection of the British Isles and the sea underpinned the idea that a hornpipe should be a dance for a sailor or sailors. The musical authority, Mrs. Lilly Grove wholeheartedly believed that, and furthermore suggested hornpipe dancing in sailor’s clothes! However, the interesting fact must be that the dance was given a name by a Welsh musical instrument – The Pibgorn (Hornpipe or Shepherd’s Pipes).
This instrument was also common in Cornwall, Ireland and Brittany, and the Welsh Dance is certainly a pastoral character, rather than a nautical one. There is now some certainty that the origin of this dance was in Wales or Cornwall. It was later, in the period of Chaucer 1340-1400, that this dance became popular in England.