The home of Scottish Country Dancing in Maidstone

Group History

Cobtree Hall

The Group was started in 1975 under the name of “The Friends of Cobtree Hall”. This was a social club with the aim of raising funds for MENCAP, which had recently acquired the redundant Church of England Parish church for Willington and Otham “St. John the Evangelist” now known as Cobtree Hall, situated in Mote Park, Maidstone. The funds to purchase the building were loaned to Mencap by the Cobtree Trust. Among the activities that the group embarked upon were Bridge and Folk Dancing. At the suggestion of one of the members, John Rose, the group decided to try Scottish Country Dancing every other week and so the group as we know it today was born. The Friends of Cobtree Hall association was disbanded in 1985 due to lack of support but the Scottish Dancing Group has gone from strength to strength. The Success of the group is thanks largely to the late Peter Green and his Wife Phyllis who ran it between them for the first 22 years until 1997 when Phyllis died. Peter died in 2009.

Initially there was no real experience of Scottish country dancing in the group; most of it was whatever could be gleaned from books. Through one of the member’s connection with the WI, a lady by the name of Vera Simms was recruited to become the first teacher. In 1980 Dick Barford a qualified SCD teacher joined the club and took over the teaching and MC role until 1994 when he stepped down due to career commitments. Dick handed the mantle to John Day, who was Chairman for seventeen years.

By this time the Group was beginning to thrive and by 1999 it had become too large for Cobtree Hall. This is when the group relocated to the current venue at Grove Green. John continued to be the sole MC until 2003 when Dick, who had returned to the group in 2000, agreed to share the MC role with him. John has now retired from MCing and Dick has recruited and trained a team of MCs from amongst the members. They now share the role with Dick.

In all this time the group has never lost sight of the original aim and has managed to contribute substantial funds to Maidstone Mencap, some of which is specifically for the benefit of the children who attend the playschool at Cobtree Hall. In the last 16 years the club has donated over £65,000 to Maidstone Mencap and is currently (2019) donating £4800 each year.