English Country Dance is one of the greatest contributions to the Western European Dance. In France there was the Barok witch was mainly performed in Versailles. The Barok is a beautiful dance, the nobles would dance excellent minuettes and sarbandes. This was introduced to the United Kingdom but never became as populair as it did in France, because the royal court had its epic center in Versailles, the france society copied everything that was done there.
In the United Kingdom society followed a different example which had a lot to do with the British nobles and their High Tea Parties on their beautiful estates, this is where the English Country Dance was captured in the hearts of society.
Old Country Dance
When you hear the name Country Dance do not think of a meadow with people dancing around wearing ribbons and bells, in fact the Country Dance was a popular court dance, and the fine tuning of country dance is a result of this popularity. When Queen Elizabeth 1st was travelling thru the United Kingdom she saw villagers perform these dances on common grounds, she liked it so much that it was introduced to her royal court. Her "dancing masters", turned them into new dances that became true royal court dances, that is where the roots of old country dance lies.
New Country Dance
What is known as "New Country Dance", was developed during the Restoration of monarchies at the English court and really flourished towards the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th century. We know that Charles 1st as well as Charles 2nd danced these figures that formed spacious patterns on the dance floor, and often had a special meaning. These patterns might look complicated but lets not forget that dancing was an essential part of the culture life and everyone danced a lot. There were many "dancing masters", that would teach and some people even had private lessons at their homes. There is a nice quote from a diary from Samuel Pepys, He is getting nervous from the many visits that the Dance Master paid to his wife, he gets so suspicious that one day after one of the dance lessons he ran to the bed room to feel if the bed was warm.