In Praise of Dorset
The Dorset Parish Records Preservation Project
The parish records of Dorset are the best known most popular archives in Dorset. They reflect and record the lives of people of Dorset over more than three centuries. The Friends of Dorset's Archives Appeal supports the Dorset Parish Records Preservation Project which aims to bring about the physical preservation of the records. from the preparation of protective covers to complex conservation treatments and the microfilming of the principle series of records (except the registers. which are already filmed) for safe and easy access in the Dorset Record Office, Dorchester and elsewhere.Hugh Jogues, County Archivist
Just occasionally a project comes along which seems absolutely right. When the idea of this recording was first mooted by the Dorset Archives we immediately thought there could be no better way of celebrating our 30 years of singing Dorset's praises around the world than producing this truly Dorset experience.
Praise 0' Do'set was written by William Barnes and set to music some years later. It is the anthem of The Society of Dorset Men and is always sung with great gusto at their dinners. The Sergeant's Song is from Thomas Hardy's book The Trumpet Major and was set to music by Pete. All the other songs are traditional and were collected in Dorset just after the turn of the century. The Captain's Apprentice and The Grey Hawk were sung by members of my family to the Hammond brothers (who noted some 600 Dorset songs) in 1906. The very fine version of Barbara Allen is from the singing of Charlie Wills of Chideock who we first met before we turned professional so it must have been around 1965. I think he was approching 90 at the time but he could still put over songs with great power and feeling. He made his first LP at the tender age of 91. The Quaker is from the Dorchester Mummers Play.
All of the tunes are traditional and versions of them crop up all over the UK and Ireland sometimes under different titles. Thomas Hardy's family were great collectors and players of folk tunes and 'The Tars of the Victory'. 'The French in Confusion', 'La Garcon Volage' and 'The Sun From the East' were all noted in their music books. We had the great pleasure and honour some years ago to record a double CD called 'The Musical Heritage of Thomas Hardy' using his and his father's violins.
I wrote 'Ee Weren't All Bad' after listening to a conversation about a likeable but light fingered landlord who ran off with the money for the Christmas Thrift Club. 'Talent' was snipped from a local paper by my father many years ago and is supposed to be a genuine advertising sign outside a village shop. 'Where's 'Er To Then' was written by the late Frank Goldsack who was Rural Science Adviser for Schools for Dorset. He obviously enjoyed his job wandering the lanes of Dorset visiting the village schools. 'The Common A Took In' was first published in The Dorset County Chronicle on the 2nd February 1834. It was William Barnes' attempt to prick the conciences of the landlords of Dorset and to make them aware of the awful plight of their labourers. 'The Alarm' is from 'The Trumpet Major' and 'I Aint Got Nar Nother' was gleaned by us many years ago from a Dorset farmer who we met in a hotel up on the A66 not far from Scotch Corner. The rest come from research done by members of The Friends of Dorset's Archives. A big thank you is due to them all. they must have put in many hours of work and I think we have enough material to make at least another dozen recordings. Now there's an idea !!!