Sunday, 30 August 2015

Update for Arundel Festival, Monday 31st August 2015

Here's the latest news from John for meeting before we sing:

If the weather is wet as predicted then we will not have a warm up down Mill Road but will congregate in the foyer of the Arundel Museum at 12.00hrs, as it is just adjacent to the performance venue. If the heavy rain has cleared then we will meet at the original site for a couple of songs.

The original details for our singing are here.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Harmony Workshop Recordings

Those who went to our recent harmony workshop held in the Beechwood Hall Hotel in Worthing (and perhaps some others who didn't go) may like to refer to recordings of the songs. These are available for download as mp3 files here. Thanks to Julie T for recording these and also of course to Emily for presenting the workshop.

If your interest is in the men's bass parts, please contact Tina via for more recordings.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Coastal Fair and Beach Clean Event on Saturday 19th September

Our participation at this event has been proposed by Barbara S and you can read more about this on the Proposed Events page. If you would like to support this event, please respond as requested on that page.

This is our first proposed event to go on the Proposed Events page, following the procedure described in this post.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

SDFS at Arundel Festival, Monday 31st August 2015

Update Sunday 30th August:

If the weather is wet as predicted then we will not have a warm up down Mill Road but will congregate in the foyer of the Arundel Museum at 12.00hrs, as it is just adjacent to the performance venue. If the heavy rain has cleared then we will meet at the original site for a couple of songs.

[These original instructions are now superseded by the notice above. To enable us to have a few songs 'Warm Up' prior to appearing on the River Stage and avoid standing outside on a very crowded pavement for any length of time, we will meet at 11.30 hrs a bit further down Mill Road from the Castle Gates, on the wide grass verge adjacent to the Pitch & Putt. If the weather forecast is poor check the website the previous day to see if arrangements have altered, but we will stick to the arrangement if at all possible and be ready to enter the holding area of the stage at 12.00hrs.]

Dave G will introduce each song briefly, and we will decide before we go on stage which songs can be dropped because of time considerations. I have confirmed that the actual slot is 12.15 to 13.00 hrs.

Parking will be even tighter on Bank Holiday Monday. As usual I will be parking on the other side of the A27 off Ford Road, up Torton Hill Road which is a leisurely 10 minute stroll to our meeting place via the footpath under the A27 road bridge, and then through to Tarrant Street.

My mobile on the day is 07902 475620, look forward to seeing you there.

John C

Song List
  1. Twankey Dillo
  2. On Sussex Hills
  3. Green Grow The Laurel
  4. Hard Times Of Old England
  5. Fathom The Bowl
  6. Gooches Beer
  7. Eileen Aroon
  8. Life Of A Man
  9. West Sussex Drinking Song
  10. Old Adam
  11. Glorious Ale
  12. Country Life
  13. Rosebuds In June
  14. The Nightingale Song
  15. Thousands Or More
  16. Sussex By The Sea
  17. Half A Pint Of Burtons

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

John Lamb and Gaynor Gilbert at Lewes Saturday Folk Club

John Lamb and Gaynor Gilbert are being featured on 22nd August at the Lewes Saturday Folk Club (their Saturdays in August are always Come All Ye sessions).

For more information see this Facebook page.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Bateman's – 2nd August 2015

Here's a comment on the day from Emily (originally posted on this page):

What a lovely day! Singing in such a beautiful place under a warm sun and a blue sky. We sang through a fairly long set with undiminished feeling and gusto much to the delight of the gathered listeners. Jonny tells me we could be heard clear as bells down by the mill! It was great to hear all three groups singing together, a rich sound indeed, especially with a few more harmonies emerging, practiced or spontaneous!
Many thanks to John for arranging our participation in the day, so great to be able to sing there and to have the chance to look all around the delightful garden and the house, one of the many riches of being a part of the SDFS!
And thanks to you all for your wonderful voices, moving, delightful and rousing in equal measure. I look forward to next time!

Angela B

John C
John C

John C

Keith D



My Boy Jack

Kipling's poem My Boy Jack is often thought to be about the loss of his son, but there is some debate about this.

In one of the rooms at Bateman's these notes (click on the image to see it enlarged) are displayed about extracts from Kipling's writing read by Ralph Fiennes. Number 7 reads:
"My Boy Jack, Kipling's heart-breaking poem often mistakenly assumed to be about the loss of his son, who was always known as John. Nevertheless the emotion reflected must stem from his grief."
This page on the Kipling Society website throws further light on this. Scroll down the page to the section headed "The ‘Jack’/John confusion" to read more.

A couple of very old recordings on YouTube of My Boy Jack set to music may be of interest:

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

SDFS at N.T. Bateman's, Burwash, East Sussex, Sunday 2nd August 2015

Here's a message from John for all singers who are performing at Bateman's on 2nd August:

Dear Singers,

We have been invited to sing two sets for the event commemorating the centennial of the First World War at this fine 17thC house and gardens, that was the home of Rudyard Kipling and his family (My Boy Jack). Emily and Amaryllis will be leading us.

The site opens to the public from 11.00 hrs so we need to be there at the latest by 10.45 hrs. We will meet in the car park adjacent to the ticket office and then proceed in a group to our first set's location TBC. Our first set will commence at 11.15 hrs till 12.00 hrs and then there will be a break for various noisy events and the Heathfield Silver Band to perform their set. We then sing our second set at 14.30 hrs in the Mulberry Garden on the SW corner of the house.

If you still have poppies from last year's remembrance events then please wear them, otherwise the same combinations of dress as at last month's Alfriston event will be great.

There will be a practice session at the Beechwood Hotel on the 29th July from 19.30 hrs.

As it's quite a distance to the venue, car sharing has been suggested, as we will have parking allocated for us. So if you are volunteering for the day please when you email John Crane at to confirm, please state whether you are able to give a lift to other singers, or would like a lift and where you are coming from, and then we may be able to match you up. I personally have two spaces available starting from Littlehampton.

I will not be able to reply to your email acceptances until next Sunday as I am at the Vernacular Architecture Conference in Cumbria, so bear with me until then.

Here's hoping that we can field a good turnout, as it will be our first National Trust site, with perhaps more to follow as the word spreads.

John C

Song List
  1. On Sussex Hills
  2. Old Adam
  3. The Nightingale
  4. Ha'nacker Mill
  5. All Things Are Quite Silent
  6. Hard Times Of Old England
  7. My Boy Jack
  8. Dancing At Whitsun
  9. Life Of A Man
  10. Thousands Or More
  11. Fathom The Bowl
  12. Rosebuds In June
  13. West Sussex Drinking Song
  14. Home Lads, Home
  15. Sussex By The Sea

Friday, 26 June 2015

Practice at the Beechwood for Bateman’s on 2nd August

There will be an EXTRA singing evening on Wednesday July 29th, 7.30 p.m., at the Beechwood Hall Hotel in Worthing.

Some extra time to prepare for our performance at “Bateman’s” on Sunday 2nd August 2015 – so if you’re planning to sing with us on the 2nd come and join us on the 29th too!


We now have a number of Performance Events booked and listed on our SDFS Diary Page – with thanks to John our Events Organiser for his hard work. In addition to these larger events many of our singers have expressed interest in singing at smaller or more local events and occasions, which may require fewer singers.

After discussions about how best to get these smaller events onto our programme (but leave John’s time free to focus primarily on the larger, Main, events) it has been suggested that the smaller occasions could be managed by the singer bringing the event to the SDFS’ attention, or by any other singer willing to take this on.

SO – If you have had an invitation, or have an idea, for the SDFS to perform at such an event – AND you or another singer are willing to manage the arrangements for SDFS to participate – then, providing there are no major clashes with an event already listed and enough singers are available, the event will be added to the others listed on our website.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO if you would like to add a small or local Event to the performance list ....
  1. Let John know the event details as soon as possible (you can contact him via the SDFS email address, and please include a brief notice about the event which he will forward to Keith our Web Administrator to post on our website’s new “Proposed Events” page. (A prompt to this will appear on the “Latest News” page.)

  2. The notice must provide details of the event and the contribution the SDFS is being asked to make – name the singer who is leading on the arrangements, – and invite singers (from any locality) to respond to them if they would like to join in (giving a closing date for replies). (The SDFS email address can be given for replies, to avoid personal contact details being displayed, and John will forward the messages to the nominated singer in charge.)

  3. Please let John know the names of any singers volunteering who have not used the SDFS address for their reply, and also keep him up to date with plans and progress (so that he can maintain an overview of all our engagements for future planning).

  4. Once singer numbers are known by the given deadline another notice should be prepared and sent to John for Keith to post on the website, to confirm and share final plans if enough singers have volunteered or to cancel if insufficient interest. If the event is confirmed it will be transferred into the “Diary Dates” list.

  5. When choosing the songs for a small group of singers, tried and tested material will enable a more confident performance without needing to arrange extra rehearsals, and if for a more informal occasion a musical lead ‘out front’ may not be necessary.
Let’s celebrate the South Downs Songs whenever and wherever we sing!

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Local Group Report – Lewes Tuesday 16th June 2015

Twelve singers – Adrian, Angela B, Cat, Dave T, Dawn, John K, Judy, Mac, Margaret, Margo, Maria and Tina – gathered at the John Harvey Tavern. We didn’t sing beside the Ouse (maybe next month when we are doing less note-by-note learning of new songs and harmonies) but we posed for some photos outside in the last of the evening sun before heading back inside to the cosy downstairs Lewes Bar to start singing.

Photo courtesy of Margo

We looked back at the Sussex Day celebrations at Alfriston on Sunday which nine of us had attended (see separate report and photos) and looked ahead to the list of upcoming events, including some further singing opportunities over this side in Burwash and Haywards Heath. We were particularly excited to hear about plans hot off the press a few days ago for a possible 2016 singing trip along the coast on the ‘Waverley’, the oldest ocean going paddle steamer in the world.

Songs covered were My Boy Jack and Home Lads Home (which are likely to feature at the Bateman’s war themed event); Constant Lovers (including hammed-up music hall over the top scooping of notes and general woefulness); new songs Farmer’s Toast, Jim the Carter Lad, Pleasant and Delightful and They Won’t let Us go to Sea Any More; some new or newer harmonies for Rosebuds in June and Fathom the Bowl; an airing of an old favourite Three Maidens which has not been performed for a while; and East Sussex Drinking Song.

Any new singers are very welcome to join us in our sessions, third Tuesday of each month, just turn up with your voice and join in. Next few dates are 21 July, 18 August and 15 September.