Carols, Songs and Dancing: The Musical Heritage of Thomas Hardy’s Family

Among the fine collection of Hardy items in the Dorset County Museum, one of the most interesting is the music-book which belonged to his father and grandfather.  This is a hand-written book of carols, hymns, ballads and songs which had been passed down orally and collected over the generations, and the pages sewn together in this simple homemade book.

Here are two carols from the family carol book used for ‘Going the Rounds’ at Christmas, when the Mellstock Quire visited the cottages around Bockhampton and Stinsford to sing carols to the locals. If you’re musical, you might have a go at playing them!

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night

Hark The Herald Angels Sing

hark-the-herald-angels-sing_1Hark The Herald Angels Sing

Thomas Hardy’s grandfather, father and other relatives played violins and cellos in the West Gallery church choirs at Stinsford and Puddletown until about 1835-40, when the church replaced the instrumentalists with barrel organs.

On Christmas Eve, the tradition was for these singers and players to walk through the dark night, lit only by lanterns, carrying their music and instruments, to sing and play carols at all the cottages and houses.

From these family musicians, the young Thomas inherited a love of music.  As a boy, he was taught to tune and play the fiddle by his father, with whom he played at parties and weddings.  He later drew on the family memories of the choir in Under the Greenwood Tree:

Chapter 4: GOING THE ROUNDS

Shortly after ten o’clock the singing-boys arrived at the tranter’s house, which was invariably the place of meeting, and preparations were made for the start. The older men and musicians wore thick coats, with stiff perpendicular collars, and coloured handkerchiefs wound round and round the neck till the end came to hand, which they just showed their ears and noses, like people looking over a wall. The remainder, stalwart ruddy men and boys, were dressed mainly in snow-white smock-frocks, embroidered upon the shoulders and breasts, in ornamental forms of hearts, diamonds, and zigzags. The cider-mug was emptied for the ninth time, the music-books were arranged, and the pieces finally decided upon. The boys in the meantime put the old horn-lanterns in order, cut candles into short lengths to fit the lanterns; and, a thin fleece of snow having fallen since the early part of the evening, those who had no leggings went to the stable and wound wisps of hay round their ankles to keep the insidious flakes from the interior of their boots.

……………….

 

Just before the clock struck twelve they lighted the lanterns and started. The moon, in her third quarter, had risen since the snowstorm; but the dense accumulation of snow-cloud weakened her power to a faint twilight, which was rather pervasive of the landscape than traceable to the sky. The breeze had gone down, and the rustle of their feet and tones of their speech echoed with an alert rebound from every post, boundary-stone, and ancient wall they passed, even where the distance of the echo’s origin was less than a few yards. Beyond their own slight noises nothing was to be heard, save the occasional bark of foxes in the direction of Yalbury Wood, or the brush of a rabbit among the grass now and then, as it scampered out of their way.”

Helen Gibson
Honorary Curator of the Thomas Hardy Archive and Collection

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19th Century Barrel Organ

19th Century Barrel OrganOur newly restored 19th Century Barrel Organ is now back at the museum. Come to hear the barrel organ play any number of traditional melodies on one or more of its three barrels.

Gordon Bartlet, who kindly financed the restoration of the organ will demonstrate it for you. He will be in the museum every Tuesday in March (1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th) and April (5th, 12th, 19th and 26th) 3.00 — 4.00pm.

A Selection of Melodies:

  • Handels Water Music
  • The Dorsetshire March
  • The Bollita
  • Lady Digby’s Minuet
  • Evening Hymn
  • Lording Mornington
Gordon Bartlet with the Barrel Organ

Gordon Bartlet with the Barrel Organ

Gordon says “Vintage machinery and many varieties of music have always been a passion of mine, so mechanical music ticks both boxes and has lead to a collection of antique musical boxes and similar items. With this background it was sad to see a 19th century barrel organ lying silent in the Dorset County Museum, so I resolved to investigate its history and to see if it could be made to work again.

Apart from once being in Puddletown church and then Bere Regis church much of the organ’s background was unknown. Delving into more detail uncovered a fascinating history from when it was built by John Gray of London in 1839 to when it was bought and subsequently donated to the museum in 1935 by Miss Agnes Debenham of the Debenham Stores family.

On the technical side the organ was very complete and original, but with damage to the operating mechanism and to many of the pipes. Making it play again required the combined efforts of myself and Mr John Budgen, a retired professional organ builder.”

Demonstrations at the museum every Tuesday in March (1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th) and April (5th, 12th, 19th and 26th) from 3.00pm – 4.00pm. Normal admissions apply.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Local schools visit Druce Farm Roman Villa

Children excavating on the site at Druce Farm © EDAS 2015

Children excavating on the site at Druce Farm © EDAS 2015

During the summer of 2015, more than 166 primary school children plus 24 teaching staff visited Dorset’s new Roman villa at Druce Farm near Puddletown. The East Dorset Antiquarian Society (EDAS), led by Site Director Lilian Ladle, is into its fourth and final year exploring the site. Both EDAS and the landowners, Tom and Ann Ridout, believed this was the perfect opportunity to share the villa with the community and encourage our archaeologists of the future.

 

Discovering Roman Tiling © EDAS 2015

Discovering Roman Tiling © EDAS 2015

Sue Cullinane from EDAS devised a special programme for schools including an introductory talk, a guided tour of the excavations, a chance to examine some of the recent artefacts found, and an opportunity to undertake practical activities including “finds” washing and trowelling in newly-opened trenches. Sue worked closely with Emma Talbot, the Education Officer of Dorset County Museum, to organise the visits and she also designed display boards and the finds cabinet. During 2015, there were visits from Yeovil Park School, Weymouth Home Educators, Swanage St. Mary’s Primary, Piddle Valley Primary and the Yeovil Home Educators. In addition members of the Dorset County Museum branch of the Young Archaeologists’ Club (YAC) attended a short field school.

Children washing finds on the site at Druce Farm © EDAS 2015

Children washing finds on the site at Druce Farm © EDAS 2015

All the young guests were very enthusiastic and enjoyed the experience. The teachers were delighted that EDAS has been able to offer this unique opportunity to pupils to visit a real archaeology site and experience practical archaeology.

EDAS would like to thank the volunteers: Sue Cullinane, Bryan Popple, Geoff Taylor, Barbara Milburn, Pam Norris and Anita Hicks who made the on-site activities both informative and enjoyable – as well as all the teachers who enthusiastically supported this opportunity. Special thanks to all the young people who made this such a rewarding experience for everyone.

Andrew Morgan
EDAS Chairman


There is a chance to visit Druce Farm Roman Villa Excavation on a special ‘Open Day‘ on Saturday 5th September from 10.30am – 3.30pm. Entry to the site is FREE, but a donation of £3.00 is suggested, to help towards the publication of this important site

For more details details please visit: www.dorset-archaeology.org.uk

N.B Please note that there is a one mile walk from the car park and there are no toilet facilities. The excavation is on a working farm, SORRY, NO DOGS ALLOWED

Visit to Druce Farm Roman Villa

Druce Farm Roman Villa

Druce Farm Roman Villa

On the Friday 3rd July at  6.30 pm there will be a last chance to see final season of excavation at this amazingly well-preserved Roman villa, where three large ranges of buildings are set within a courtyard enclosure. High-class finds suggest wealthy owners living here from the 1st century AD and who continued to inhabit the site for several centuries after the Romans left Britain.

Driving instructions below. There is ample parking in the meadow however the site is a good 20 minute walk from the car park. Stout shoes are recommended and be aware that the site itself is very uneven due to the excavations.

Meet in the car parking meadow at 6.30 pm for the walk up to the site

We will ask for voluntary donations to the excavation to help fund full academic publication

This is a working farm and the land owner asks that visitors leave their dogs at home (Sorry!)


How to get there: –

  • From Dorchester
    Follow the A35 East towards Bere Regis/ Poole/Bournemouth for about 3.9 miles,
    Take the exit signposted A354/B3142 to Blandford/Milborne St Andrew/Piddlehinton,
    At the roundabout take the 1st exit on to the B3142,
  • From Poole
    Follow the A35 West towards Bere Regis/ Puddletown/Dorchester for 1.1 miles,
    Continue on through one roundabout on the A35 for about 9.3 miles,
    At next roundabout take 2nd exit and continue along the A35 for 6 miles,
    Take the exit signposted A354/B3142 to Blandford, Piddlehinton, Puddletown,
    At the roundabout take the 3rd exit on to the A354,

At the next roundabout take the 1st exit on to the B3142, After about 1 mile turn right just before a sharp left bend (there is a triangle of grass at junction, Note that there is also a lane which you have to cross before entering farms driveway) and Druce Farm is directly ahead.

Drive through the gateway (Druce Farmhouse is on your right), then pass some large Victorian cottages, pass the cart shed on your left, follow the farm track with a modern cottage on your right. The track forks – take the left hand track and you will see several cars in the field.

Drive carefully – Be aware that small children may be playing around the houses and that farm machinery may be about

Young Archaeologists Explore Roman Villa

Druce Farm Roman Villa Mosaic © EDAS 2014

Druce Farm Roman Villa Mosaic © EDAS 2014

This summer the East Dorset Antiquarian Society (EDAS) has enabled over 100 children to experience real archaeology. Led by Site Director Lilian Ladle, the society is into its third year exploring the Roman Villa at Druce Farm near Puddletown. With the support of the landowners, Tom and Ann Ridout, EDAS decided it was the perfect opportunity to encourage young people who are interested in archaeology and their heritage.

Members of the Dorset County Museum's Young Archaeologists’ Club clean finds discovered at Druce Farm © EDAS 2014

Members of the Dorset County Museum’s Young Archaeologists’ Club clean finds discovered at Druce Farm © EDAS 2014

Working with Nicola Berry, the Education Officer of Dorset County Museum, schools throughout Dorset were contacted about this opportunity. Several were able to visit, including: St Andrew’s Primary School Yetminster, The Swanage School, Poole High School, Thomas Hardye School, Bryanston School, The Gryphon School Sherborne and Poole Grammar School. In addition members of the Dorset County Museum branch of the Young Archaeologists’ Club (YAC) and a group from the seeUNT Home Education Group, based in Beaminster, were also able to visit the site.

Members of the Dorset County Museum's Young Archaeologists’ Club on site at Druce Farm © EDAS 2014

Members of the Dorset County Museum’s Young Archaeologists’ Club on site at Druce Farm © EDAS 2014

The visit comprised a guided tour of the site and a talk describing some of the most important artefacts found so far. This was followed by practical archaeology; finds washing, which is the first of the post-excavation processes, and trowelling when the pupils were able to work in newly opened trenches. One of the most memorable days was when 23 perfectly behaved children from St Andrew’s Primary School, Yetminster, descended with great energy and enthusiasm and they finished their visit by finding real Roman artefacts in a recently opened trench.

All the young guests were very enthusiastic and enjoyed the experience. The teachers were delighted that EDAS had been able to offer this unique opportunity to visit a real archaeology site. They were thrilled that their pupils were able to experience practical archaeology. Some of the older pupils have stated they want to return during the summer holidays.

EDAS would like to thank Nicola Berry who liaised with the schools, all the volunteers, especially Sue Cullinane, Bryan Popple, Geoff Taylor and Barbara Milburn who arranged the on-site activities, and not forgetting the teachers who enthusiastically supported this opportunity. Special thanks to all the young people who made this such a rewarding experience for everyone.

Andrew Morgan
EDAS Chairman


There is a chance to visit Druce Farm Roman Villa Excavation on a special ‘Open Day‘ on Saturday 27th September from 10.30am – 3.30pm. Entry to the site is FREE, but a donation of £3.00 is suggested, to help towards the publication of this important site

For more details details please visit: www.dorset-archaeology.org.uk

N.B Please note that there is a one mile walk from the car park and there are no toilet facilities. The excavation is on a working farm, SORRY, NO DOGS ALLOWED

Prestigious archaeology awards presented in Bridport

Sandsfoot Castle

The Runner-up certificate was awarded to the Friends of the Sandsfoot Castle and Rodwell Trail, for their inspired commitment to conserve the castle and open it for public access.

The Town Hall, Bridport, was the venue selected by the Dorset Archaeological Committee for the presentation of its 2013 awards, given every two years since 1988. The awards were presented on Friday 11th October by the eminent archaeologist Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe, of Oxford University.

Maureen Putnam. Chairman of the Judging Panel, summarised the eight nominations, saying that ‘it has been an extremely difficult exercise making our decisions, as all of the entries were for interesting and important projects in Dorset’.

The major award, a wooden bowl made by Cecil Colyer, based on a 12th-century bowl found in Charmouth in 1979, was presented to St Mary’s Church, Puddletown, for a major conservation programme involving the relocation of the important monuments in the Athelhampton Chapel.

The Runner-up certificate was awarded to the Friends of the Sandsfoot Castle and Rodwell Trail, for their inspired commitment to conserve the castle and open it for public access.

For his on-line study of the lost torpedoes of Weymouth and Portland, Ed Cumming was highly recommended.

The Ian Horsey Memorial Award (given in memory of the distinguished Poole archaeologist), was given to Dr Alistair Somerville-Ford, the TV presenter Julian Richards, and Claire Ryley, for leading the archaeological project ‘What’s Under Your School?’

As part of this project, the Young Archaeologist’s Award, was presented to Spetisbury (Hall and Slopers) C.E., V.A., Primary School. The school was given a certificate and a framed map of Dorset, drawn by the author J. L. Carr.

Laurence Keen, OBE, Chairman of the committee, and former County Archaeologist, remarked that ‘I am delighted that eight excellent nominations were submitted. The judges have had to make very difficult decisions. The remarkable fact is that all of the projects came from non-professionals, demonstrating the enormous amount of interest and work being carried out, making sure that Dorset’s superb archaeological heritage is properly examined and appreciated for the benefit of us all. It is especially pleasing that this year we have been able to recognise the involvement of a Primary School. So it should be’.

Dorset County Museum appeal for information on photograph

Puddletown Post Office

Puddletown Post Office from the early 1900s

Dorset County Museum is appealing for information about this old photograph showing Puddletown Post Office.

The image, believed to date back to the early 20th century, was found by a lady in London and she has asked the museum to help find out more about what it shows.

The people outside are presumed to be staff and the museum wants to hear from anyone who knows whether it was common for women to work in post offices at that time or if anyone recognises any of the people in the picture.

If you can help contact Dorset County Museum on 01305 262735.