search the folktrax site


Village Traditions - Dorset

12 folksongs, Country Dances, Reels and a Christmas Mummers Play recorded at Evershot, near Dorchester, in 1936. Includes singers: Andrew Curtis of Corfe, Charlie Wills, of Bridport, Frank Hillier, of Okeford Fitzpaine, and a local gypsy family, John and Carolyne Hughes. Bob Gale's song "Dorset is beautiful" and The Haymakers Band provide further variety. 15 years before the appearance of the BODHRAN drum in Ireland, Dorset and Wiltshire had similar stick-and-drum players like Alfie Tuck from Bridport who accompanies melodeon player, Bert Pidgeon.

1. THE GREENWOOD TREE (Waltz) - The Drovers Band, Bridport - 1'11"

2. LAWYER LEE - Andrew Curtis, Corfe - 2'11"

3. Talk - village dances and playing the riddle-drum with a stick - 4'02"

4. FOUR HAND REEL - Bert Pidgeon (mel) & Alfie Tuck (stick & drum) - 0'51"

5. COLD WINTER'S NIGHT/ OLD FOLKS AT HOME (talk bef) - Carolyne Hughes/ BARBARY ALLEN John Hughes - 7'14"

6. DORSET IS BEAUTIFUL (Bob Gale) - Derek Lawman with Chris Rooney (guitar) - 3'45"

7. THE BANKS OF THE SWEET DUNDEE - Charlie Wills, Bridport - 3'48"

8. MISTER DONE - Frank Hillier, Okeford Fitzpaine - 2'09"

9. SWEET ELLEN THE FAIR - Andrew Curtis - 1'57"

10. SPEED THE PLOUGH/ THE GOLDEN FARMER - The Haymakers Band - 2'30"

11. THE SINGING OF THE TRAVELS (Symondsbury Mummers Song) - Haymakers Band - 0'30"

12. EVERSHOT MUMMERS PLAY rec 1936: Act 1 - 13'32" & Act II - 3'01"

13. UP SIDES AND DOWN THE MIDDLE - Bert Pidgeon (mel) & Alfie Tuck (drum) - 2'32"

Recorded & edited by Peter Kennedy and first published on Folktrax cassettes 1977.

#1. Peter Kennedy began his West Country recording sorties in Thomas Hardy country around Dorchester. The first "Village Barn Dance" radio programme came from Puncknowle (then pronounced "Punnel"), when dancers from Portisham (pron. "Possum") showed their local Ring Dance.

#2 & #9. ANDREW CURTIS, aged 81 when recorded at his house in Townsend Road, Corfe, was born at Puddle Mill, on the Isle of Purbeck. His father from Swanage was a carter and Andrew started doing delivery work for the Post Office at the age of 8. After that he did "every job on a farm", and then ran his own threshing tackle, taking it round the farms. When he retired he made toys in his tool shed.

#4 & #13. Like many others Peter encountered in both Dorset and Wiltshire, Andrew had his own "Riddle Drum", a calfskin over a large farm sieve, which was used to accompany local melodeon players. It was beaten with a double-ended stick, then, particularly during step-dancing, it was vibrated by wetting the thumb and running it across the head of the drum. (15 years later the same type of drum started to be used by Irish players, and now, as "The Bodhran" it is mistakenly regarded as a uniquely Irish folk instrument!).

#5. A complete tape of Carolyne Hughes' gypsy family can be heard on FTX-097. While Peter was recording them in a field near Blandford, a rather drunken and excited farmer was trying to move them off the land with his tractors. Carolyne paid no attention and went on singing.

#6. Bob Gale used the tune of THE NIGHTINGALE SONG recorded by Peter Kennedy from the Cantwell family for his composition, DORSET IS BEAUTIFUL (Copyright: FOLKTRAX).

#8. More songs from FRANK HILLIER are on FTX-029.

#11. The final song of the Mummers at Evershot, as at Symondsbury, is a version of THE SERVINGMAN AND THE HUSBANDMAN. The Symondsbury Play is given in full on FTX-103. The performance of the play was usually followed by THE FOUR HAND REEL and the local Country Dance, UP SIDES AND DOWN THE MIDDLE, often danced to the sung chorus of a ballad: "The Pricketty Bush, the Pricketty Bush. that pricks my heart so sore, if I get out the Pricketty Bush, I'll never get in any more".

home about us contact us CD DVD order