Sunday, 28 May 2017

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 16th May 2017

Twelve of us enjoyed a warm evening at The John Harvey Tavern singing a wide variety from the repertoire. Tina worked us through old favourites, spending time to polish up on the harmonies: Rosebuds in June, Pleasant and Delightful, The Farmer’s Toast, Country Life, The Magpie, The Turnip Hoer, Thousands or More, Ha'nacker Mill and The Woodcutter’s Song.

We also looked at some of the songs that might be on the set list at Batemans in the summer: The Ladies go Dancing at Whitsun, A Smuggler's Song, Home Lads Home, Follow Me 'Ome, and Hard Times of Old England.

It was good to see Sandria again and Chris, who came last month, and brought his girlfriend along this time.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Adur Valley Beer Walk

Saturday 27th May 2017

Emily has been busy gaining permission for us to sing from the pubs and making a plan for us to sing along the Adur Valley Beer Walk. Get the official flyer from the Camra website (pdf file) which includes a map showing the pubs to be visited. If you want to join in, just turn up on the day – the more the merrier!

Hello All,

For those of you who fancy a delicious local ale or two and a rousing sing, here's the plan for the Adur Valley Beer Walk:

Gather at 2pm at the Riverside Brewery in Upper Beeding for sampling Ale and singing.

Then stroll to the Rising Sun for same.

Then up the river to the Kings Head for same (although possibly the only local ale they'll be serving is Harveys).

Then along to the Castle Inn for more of the same.

The Old Tollgate is on the map too but disapproves of singing, so perhaps then –

Wandering up to the castle ruin for those who want to see it, and then we can all head off, or on for those who fancy more, towards the pubs in Steyning, of which the Norfolk Arms, the White Horse, Chequers and the Star are all part of the trail.

If you can't make 2pm at the Riverside Brewery then you can catch up at the next couple of pubs...

Lets hope it's a lovely day, or nice and cosy in the pubs...

Look forward to seeing you there!

Emily

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 3rd May 2017

After chats and notices we gathered our voices to sing and warmed up with a couple of old favourites – Fathom the Bowl and The Nightingale. We continued with Jim the Carter Lad to polish some details and later Ha’nacker Mill to brush the dust off, both in readiness for use at the Michelham Priory event on Sunday 14th May. Emily reintroduced The Littlehampton Collier Lads for those not yet familiar with it and proposed to spend more time on this at our June session. Then for our interest and enjoyment (and perhaps to consider it for listing in the future alongside Belloc’s Sussex Hills) she shared with us a song by Arthur Beckett who was one of the early Sussex Downsmen (which later became the South Downs Society). Dave and Alan also entertained us with a May-time song, Sumer is icumen in. Otherwise our songs were requests from ‘the floor’ – Constant Lovers, Follow Me ’ome, The Magpie, A Smuggler’s Song and again, for the sheer pleasure of it, the Brave Young Ploughboy.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

South Downs Folk Singers entertain at Horsham English Festival

A message of thanks from Les B and a report from David G:

Very many thanks to everyone who came and sang at the English Festival in Horsham yesterday. Our performance was much enjoyed, the festival organisers were most grateful and we received many compliments.
We're booked in for next year – 13th May 2018!
Best, Les.

On Sunday 7th May more than twenty of our gallant singers attended the Horsham English Festival and sang a rousing 40 minute set of Sussex songs praising amongst other things Hepworths Beer and life in the countryside. We were well received by the townsfolk, many of whom joined in with the choruses. The afternoon was organised by Horsham Folk Club and was in aid of the Samaritans. Well done to everyone who volunteered to sing at such short notice. See you at Michelham Priory next Sunday!

Photo: Barbara W

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Weald and Downland Museum – ICOMOS Singing Project

Sunday 28th May, 11.00am-4.00pm

Here's a short message from Emily about an exciting workshop coming soon.
Hello all, I am delighted to have the opportunity to be involved in this brill workshop at the Weald and Downland Living Museum.

It's a project suitable for all ages and families, to explore our 'intangible cultural heritage', what a phrase! And, most importantly, to sing some wonderful songs, rounds, or 'catches' as they were once called. The workshops are free, so they are also a great chance to look round the museum which is wonderful. Check out this link for more info.

SDFS at Michelham Priory, nr Hailsham, East Sussex, Sunday 14th May

Update 12th May 2017 – here are the song lists:

First Set:
  1. Country Life Ab
  2. The Turnip Hoer Bb
  3. Ha’nacker Mill E
  4. The Nightingale A
  5. Jim, The Carter Lad B
  6. The Magpie C
  7. Follow Me ’Ome B
  8. Thousands Or More A
  9. Jolly Good Song

Second Set:
  1. Oak, Ash & Thorn E
  2. Pleasant & Delightful B
  3. On Sussex Hills A
  4. Life Of A Man B
  5. Ha’nacker Mill E
  6. A Smuggler’s Song C#
  7. Rosebuds In June B
  8. Fathom The Bowl D
  9. Sussex By The Sea (if time) A
  10. Jolly Good Song

If you have not been before, Michelham Priory is a very interesting and attractive group of buildings on a Medieval and later site. The event is part of National Mills Weekend and is the first time we have been able to support both a Sussex Archaeological Society 'Sussex Past' event and the national Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings celebration.

Please use this link to download the poster (pdf file) where you will see that we are down to sing two sets, at midday and 2.30pm. Emily will be leading us.

As the event is so close we will use the two song sets used at the Weald & Downland Living Museum last Sunday, with of course Ha'nacker Mill, hopefully the weather will be warmer and this will allow you to perhaps wear items of apparel of blue, green or cream.

I will be at the entrance to identify free entry for singers on the day and half-price entry for one accompanying person with each participant. Complimentary teas, coffees and soft drinks will be provided for Singers.

Please gather at the watermill on site about half an hour before each set.

As I need to let the organisers know the number of singers that have volunteered to support the event, please either email me ASAP at southdownsfolksingers@gmail.com or book a place with me at the Beechwood session this week.

Could you also indicate to me if you wish to volunteer for the Brighton Museum's heritage event on Saturday 17th June so arrangements can be made, especially for car sharing/parking with the organisers, if you are not coming by public transport to the event.

Many thanks,

John C.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 5th April 2017

Apologies from the editor for the late publication of this report, which was received nearly two weeks ago.

A list of songs proposed for performance at the “Folk and Food” event on 30th April set the agenda for most of this month’s Beechwood Hall session. We sang our way through the Sussex Hills, Ale Glorious Ale, The Farmer’s Toast and, although a fine spring evening, the Poor Froze-out Gardeners. We cracked on with Jim the Carter Lad (using the words as amended on the SDFS website) and then tried out The Brisk Young Plough Boy again. This had been aired at our March meeting and all agreed it is a lovely song, but since it is not yet on our SDFS list or website and probably not known by all the local groups there was doubt about its suitability for singing on 30th April. After a break we galloped on with A Smuggler’s Song and The Magpie, and gave The Farmer’s Toast another go. This left enough time for Emily to sing and then guide us through a song in keeping with the spring season, Moon-gazer, written by one of our singers (Brian) inspired by the folk stories and legends about hares on the South Downs. The session closed as it often does with, by popular demand, Rolling Home.

Singing at Horsham English Festival, Sunday 7th May

We have accepted an invitation to sing at the Horsham English Festival next Sunday, 7th May 2017, at 2.00pm, for about half an hour. We will be singing in the Bandstand in the Carfax, in the centre of Horsham. Apologies for the short notice, but the invitation has arisen following a cancellation by another choir. There is a Festival web-site with information, but briefly there are food stalls, music, classic cars and motorbikes and some splendid pubs. Our singing spot will be part of a concert held in support of the Samaritans. We propose to sing the songs approximately from the second set that were sung at Singleton on Sunday.

If you would be available and willing to sing next Sunday then could you please let us know by replying to South Downs Folk Singers.

A wee tip regarding parking in Horsham: there is an excellent park-and-ride, at Hop Oast on the southern route into Horsham. £2.00 for a car and 5 passengers. If that does not appeal then the nearest car park is probably Piries Place.

We'll meet at the Bandstand at 1.30pm.

Best Wishes,
Les.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 20th April 2017

We had a very happy evening on 20th April, and worked very hard as we went through the song list for the Food and Folk Festival on 30th April. We were pleased to welcome another newcomer who is an experienced folk singer but wants to know more about Sussex folk songs and learn the harmonies to ‘our’ songs. We hope she will come again! We finished off the evening of course, by Rolling Home

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 18th April 2017

Again this month, we sang through 22 songs with 12 singers. From the start a young man from Brighton joined us and picked up the tunes and some bass harmonies very quickly, so we hope he’ll be coming along in May, too. Tina led us through the Weald and Downland set list as well as Ha’nacker Mill, The Woodcutter’s Song and fortuitously Constant Lovers as new boy Chris grew up with grandparents who sang music hall favourites, so he was able to join in enthusiastically and we made a “terrible sound”, enough to make anyone seasick. We finished the evening on a fast pub crawl with East Sussex Drinking Song and Jolly Good Song.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Shoreham Wordfest – Celebrating Shakespeare festival

20th – 23rd April 2017

Here's a message from Emily:
Hello all,

Here's a great thing to do this weekend! A fab festival in Shoreham celebrating Shakespeare: Workshops, talks, singing, a Saturday night Elizabethan dance and feast... dressing up if you fancy... wonderful costumes last year!

Come and join in!

A small group of SDFS and Secret Shore singers will be performing under the name of Sounds and Sweet Airs. This will be at approximately 11.00-11.30am by the War Memorial in East Street and at midday in St. Mary de Haura Church, Shoreham-by-Sea.


On Sunday afternoon Emily will be leading two workshops titled "Sounds and Sweet Airs" and "Hey ho! To the Greenwood".

For more information about the whole weekend click the images below to download the poster and leaflet as pdf files, and visit the Shoreham Wordfest website.

2017-04_Shake_Poster.pdf      2017-04_Shake_leaflet.pdf

Saturday, 15 April 2017

SDFS at the Weald & Downland Living Museum's 'Food & Folk', Sunday 30th April 2017

Dear Singers,

You will have received by now an email requesting you to confirm with John C. if you are volunteering to sing at this event, to be placed on the free passes list, so there may be some duplication in the following details, but better safe than sorry.

We will be performing our two sets in the Market Square at 13.00-13.45hrs & 15.30-16.15hrs, they are detailed further down this piece. Please be in the Market Square half an hour before we commence each set.

As usual if you have apparel that you can wear that reflects our standard colours of blue, green or cream, then please do so but I suspect that as in previous years you will be wearing your coats most of the time. There will be a list of participating Singers at the pedestrian entrances (follow the 'Friends & Exhibitors' stream) where you will be ticked off the alphabetical-by-surname list, and issued with a wristband pass.

This year there is a fuller content of Folk performances on the now-extended-to-three-day weekend, with Emily's 'Sounds & Sweet Airs' Shoreham 'Celebrating Shakespeare' splinter group performing Tudor songs on the Saturday, plus other groups on the other days.

In addition SDFSingers participating will have free entry to the Folk Concert with your wristband on the Sunday evening if you requested this in your email when confirming that you are volunteering to perform.

The Museum is open from 10.30 hrs, and those Singers who have been before are well aware that, especially with good weather forecast, entry traffic queues swiftly build up, so allow for that for your arrival.

Regards,

John C.


First Set, 1.00pm:
1. Oak, Ash and Thorn E
2. Jim the Carter Lad B
3. On Sussex Hills A
4. Pleasant and Delightful B
5. The Farmer’s Toast
6. Smugglers Song C#
7. Ale, Glorious Ale E
8. Rosebuds in June B
9. West Sussex Drinking Song E

Second Set, 3.30pm:
1. Country Life Eb – Ab
2. Poor Froze-out Gardeners C#
3. Life of a Man B
4. The Magpie C
5. The Turnip Hoer Bb
6. Brisk Young Ploughboy C
7. Thousands or More A
8. Gooch’s Beer F
9. Sussex by the Sea A
10. Jolly Good Song

Monday, 3 April 2017

“South Downs Folk Singers” Recording Project

As many of our singers already know, we have hopes and plans to make sound and film recordings of our performances – to share our South Downs songs with others via the internet or to use on a DVD or CD compilation.

Progress has been slow and currently relies on hard-pressed members of our Committee. Assistance from others in the SDFS (or from their friends and families) would, we hope, share the tasks and opportunities and help speed us on our way to realising our goals all the sooner. We have a variety of events and performances planned for this summer and it would be good to make the most of them.

So – if you have any recording expertise, recording equipment and free time to offer we would be very glad to hear from you. Please contact us via the SDFS email or chat with us at one of our regular local sessions, one or more from our committee are usually amongst the crowd at these gatherings.

“Your SDFS Needs You” and we are hoping to hear from you soon!

Many thanks from all the Committee, Henny

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 21st March 2017

This turned out to be an excellent evening with 12 of us rolling through 22 songs, so here goes: Drink Me Brave Boys (with its extra verse written by Mac!), The Nightingale, The Turmut Hoer, Farmer’s Toast, at which point two men appeared and joined in with Pleasant And Delightful, Thousands Or More and Country Life before returning to the bar. So we started on the more sober Ha’nacker Mill, Poor Froze Out Gardeners and They Won’t Let us Go To Sea Any More before our break. The second half started with The Magpie, Where Stormy Winds Do Blow, West Sussex Drinking Song, On Sussex Hills, Rolling In The Dew, The Woodcutter’s Song, Three Maidens, A Smuggler’s Song, Oak, Ash and Thorn, Run of the Downs, East Sussex Drinking Song and finishing with Seasons Turn – all on half a shandy!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Heathlands Reunited Project

The following information has been received from Stephen A, if you are interested in this please contact him for further details.
The enclosed email from Bruce contains as much as has been decided. The walk on day 2 cover sections 3-6 and I expect our performance to be either at Tullecombe or Borden Wood.

See the Serpents trail guide here: https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/media/2206/serpent_trail.pdf

I would hope to sing:
  • The Stedham Oysterman’s donkey
  • Valiants All
  • The Saucy Sailor
  • and Mayner’s Whip (Farmer Albery’s song)
and I would give a bit of a spiel  about how the songs were collected.

This is the email referred to above, sent to Stephen by the Heathlands Reunited Project Manager:
As part of the Project there are a number of project activities to be carried out over the next 4.5 years

The activity you are interested in - is to work around  a roving storyteller along the Serpent Trail creating heathland tales along the way, particularly stories that reunite the landscape to people’s lives. Two storytelling walks will be held; one around the start of the project to collect and tell the old stories of the heathlands.  The second will be held towards the end of the project to create new stories of the heathlands.  The purpose is to reunite people with their local heathlands; help them to understand the historical links between their community and the landscape.  It is intended people will have learnt more about their heritage and a wider range of people will have engaged with heritage. The Project needs 90 people to attend the event and 100 people need to have contributed stories to this activity.  So far the plan is to walk just over 10 miles a day - over six days and it starts on the 17th of July and ends on the 22nd of July.  The walk will be led by Dan Cornell and myself each day.  We are going to aim to take around 20 people each day. Day one will start in Haslemere and end at Iron Hill, day two will start at  Iron Hill and end at Older Hill, day three will be from Older Hill to Petworth, day 4 from Petworth to Sutton End, day 5 starts at Sutton End and ends at Midhurst Common and then the last day starts at Midhurst Common and ends at Petersfield Heath.

The day that we walk through the Borden area is on the 18th of July - so if your team are happy to come and add to the atmosphere by singing some local songs to us walkers that would be much appreciated. We will be stopping around Rake to watch a bit of sword play about the capturing of two of the Essex Gang (Highway men) and then on our way into Harting Combe – Tullecombe and on to Borden. The general plan is to have the wardens of the heath sites talk to us whilst we go through their heath sites and have Dan and myself fill in the gaps but also to have 3 small re-enactment scenes telling stories each day.  To have yourselves come along and sing would be an additional event that will really add into the spirit of this activity. Over the week we are intending to meet a mixture of characters including: Tennyson, Turner, Shepherd (Wind in the Willows illustrator), Elgar and on the last day Fran - for a tour of Ballard’s Brewery.  So as you can see it will hopefully have a little bit to entertain most people’s interest.

“New Songs” – an update and reminder about how new SDFS material can be introduced

We are considering some ‘new’ songs to add to our South Downs Folk Singers collection, to extend our knowledge and enjoyment of the South Downs songs and to give us even more to choose from when we share the songs with the public on our website and at performance events.

For a while the task of sourcing and selecting new material for us all to learn was done by our song leads, but now if any singer attending the local monthly sessions wants to bring another South Downs song to our attention it will be considered by our song leads. Please note: the words and tune (recording or score), or a YouTube or other recording reference, will need to accompany any song suggested. (This process does NOT apply to the extra songs we might occasionally choose to sing or entertain each other with at a local session – unless wanting them to be more generally used by the SDFS.)

Once on a shortlist a new song could then be tried and learned at all of our local sessions and, if favoured by most of the singers, formally ‘adopted’ as a “SDFS" song. This final say will be with the singers – so don’t be shy with your ideas and with your comments, all our singers play an important part in this process!

Ostara 2017

Here is another opportunity to sing and share our songs – at this year’s “Ostara” celebration of the Spring, hosted by the Worthing Downlanders on 2nd April, for further details go to www.worthingdownlanders.org.uk/ostara.htm  If enough SDFS voices are together at the event we could contribute a few of our songs as a group, choosing whatever we like on the day.  This is not a formal event and there is no fixed programme, but if you’d like to join in be there by 3-3.30 pm with some song choices in mind, and we’ll give it a go! (For more information or to confirm you will be attending, contact Henny via the SDFS email.)

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 16th March 2017

Sixteen singers arrived for the first official Chichester group session at The Chichester Inn last Thursday. We welcomed newcomers Lyn and Chris and started off the evening with Rosebuds in June, Three Maidens, and Sussex Wedding Song. We looked at singing some appropriate songs for the first SDFS event of the year at the Food and Folk Festival so included The Turnip Hoer, Rolling in the Dew, The Nightingale Song, Where Stormy Winds Do Blow, Ladies Go Dancing at Whitsun and Country Life. At the request of our newer members who didn't know them, we sang the two Kipling songs: A Smuggler’s Song and Oak, Ash and Thorn. In between we jollied up the evening with Ale, Glorious Ale, Gooch's Beer, Twanky Dillow, West Sussex Drinking Song and finished off the evening with Rolling Home before doing just that!

Friday, 10 March 2017

Edward Thomas song workshop

(NB - This is NOT about a South Downs Folk Singers event, but posted for your interest and information)

An outdoor singing workshop “Singing in the Spirit of Edward Thomas” is being held on Sunday 9th April 2017 from 2 - 5pm during a day of events to commemorate the centenary of this poet’s death in WW1.

It starts at Steep Village Hall and continues with a walk into the local Hampshire countryside.  For more information and tickets go to www.ticketsource.co.uk/southdownspoetryfestival

This is the information provided by the organiser:

SINGING IN THE SPIRIT OF EDWARD THOMAS
AN OUTDOOR SINGING WORKSHOP IN STEEP VILLAGE WITH REBECCA ASKEW

The writer Edward Thomas was a compulsive walker, he found “deepest ease and joy out of doors”. He was also a keen singer, preferring a folk song “...to Beethoven”. He edited a volume of poems and songs for the open air and many of his poems were influenced by music or song in some way. As part of a day of events to commemorate the centenary of his death in WW1, Rebecca will lead a session singing folk songs, rounds and simple part songs inspired by his work. It starts in Steep Village Hall and continues with a walk out into the village and beyond, stopping at suitable points to sing in the beautiful surroundings of the Hampshire countryside. Come and commemorate the writer’s life by doing two of the things he loved!

2-5pm. £10/£5 under 18s

For more information visit www.ticketsource.co.uk/southdownspoetryfestival

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 1st March 2017

We started our singing with some favourites, Pleasant and Delightful, Rosebuds in June and then Thousands or More, before working on The Farmer’s Toast, Jim the Carter Lad and Follow Me Home. After having heard it sung at our Wassail in January, we then tried and enjoyed a song known to some but not all of us - The Brisk Young Ploughboy. (It was suggested that, if also liked by our Lewes and Chichester colleagues, we could in due course consider adding this one to our SDFS repertoire.) We continued with a mixture of songs by request - Eileen Aroon and Poor Froze-Out Gardeners before a well earned break, and then Sussex Hills, Drink Me Brave Boys and Ha’nacker Mill, before finishing in more spring-like mood with a cheery rendition of Country Life. Many thanks again to Emily and Alan, our song leads for the evening.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 21st February 2017

We were a select group of seven who met at The John Harvey Tavern. At last we were able to present a seasonal gift to Tina as a thank you for all her hard work that makes our meetings so fruitful and enjoyable. We started singing with a boisterous Country Life, continuing with Where Stormy Winds Do Blow, Farmer’s Toast, Ha’nacker Mill, The Turmut Hoer, The Woodcutter’s Song, Pleasant and Delightful, The Magpie and Constant Lovers.

In the break we discussed the two short sets that we might sing at The Star, Alfriston, in June – most will be from the selection above. During the second half we needed to work on They Won’t Let Us Go To Sea Anymore and Seasons Turn, but generally the songs like Oak, Ash and Thorn, Poor Froze-Out Gardeners, A Smuggler’s Song and Thousands or More flowed easily as there were no new people to accommodate. Penultimately, we attempted Adrian’s East Sussex Drinking Song but now, as recent research reveals, we have to sing that Lewes once had nine breweries – eight more than they do now!

Friday, 17 February 2017

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 16th February 2017

The recently renamed Chichester Group contingent of the South Downs Folk Singers goes from strength to strength. We started out five years ago calling ourselves the Easebourne Group and singing together once a month in the White Horse Inn near Midhurst. We then in the interim made our home in the Three Moles at Selham. However now the consensus of opinion is that we should relocate permanently on the third Thursday of every month to the Chichester Inn in West Street, Chichester, where we have a good acoustic for singing, plenty of space to welcome new members and a genuine warm welcome from Nick the landlord. And there’s ample free parking in the car park over the road (just under the city walls).

Last night 19 of us met to socialise and sing a jolly selection of 14 mainly traditional songs celebrating all things to do with life, love, drinking and our lovely Sussex hills. We welcomed two new members, Jo and Corrin, who joined in with the singing even though most of the songs were completely new to them. But that’s how it is with the South Downs Folk Singers. It costs nothing to join – all you have to do is come along to one of our sessions and you’ll be made most welcome! Thank you to all who attended last night. See you again at the Chichester Inn on Thursday 16th March at 7.30 for an 8.00 pm start.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Local Group Report – Beechwood, Wednesday 1st February 2017

We had another good turn out in Worthing to sing away any winter glooms, and we welcomed three new singers and one returner to the fold. For our ‘returner’ we gave Twankydillo an airing, and for the singers planning to sing at the Seed Swap event on 4th Feb we revisited Poor Froze-Out Gardeners, Oak, Ash and Thorn, The Farmers Toast and The Turnip Hoer (plus the new Composting lyrics created for this tune by Barbara S). When Emily needed to leave early, Alan ably accepted the reins and guided us successfully towards the best start notes for the rest of the evening. By popular choice Country Life, Rosebuds in June, Jim the Carter Lad, Pleasant and Delightful, West Sussex Drinking Song, and Ebernoe Horn Fair were all enjoyed, and with what breath we had left we went Rolling Home!

Vote South Downs!

The South Downs National Park is one of five contenders nominated by John Craven, BBC Countryfile presenter, for National Park of the Year in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2017. You can see the other nominees and cast your vote here.

Voting closes before midnight on 28th February.

Slindon Wassail Report

10th February 2017 update: A report has been added to the Slindon Wassail post here.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Worthing “Seed Swap” 2017

12.30 – 4.00pm Saturday 4th February
Oak Grove College
The Boulevard
Worthing BN13 1JX
Entry £2

Further details here.

If you’d like to attend this event and to sing a few South Downs Songs during the afternoon, then come along and we’ll meet (near the stairs) at 1.40pm and later at 2.40pm for two brief song-sets. Come prepared with your song books and the lyrics to the “Composters” song supplied by Barbara S. (to the tune of the Turmut Hoer), and with Emily there to lead us we’ll choose our songs on the day!

See you there!

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Local Group Report – Easebourne Thursday 19th January 2017

Eight of us made it out in the dark and cold to The Three Moles in Selham on Thursday night to enjoy a lively social evening with a few drinks and some very good songs. We welcomed a new member – Christine from Fittleworth who genuinely enjoyed joining in and discovering what singing with the South Downs Folk Singers is all about! We warmed up with Fathom the Bowl and Country Life and then went round the circle singing whatever song each member requested. This resulted in a great variety of songs from The Constant Lovers and A Smuggler's Song to old favourites like Thousands or More, The Turnip Hoer, Rosebuds in June and The Nightingale. Gordon got us all to sing his specially composed and very funny Three Moles Song and Stephen A taught us the song Valiants All which apparently was composed and sung in the past by a poor inmate of the Midhurst workhouse! We finished up with Ale Glorious Ale, Sussex by the Sea and of course Rolling Home which we all did most contentedly at the end of the evening. Please note that our next sing will be on Thursday 16th February at the Chichester Inn in West Street, Chichester. We hope to see lots of you there!

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Local Group Report – Lewes Tuesday 17th January 2017

Our first gathering of the year over at The John Harvey Tavern was a good start for twelve of us, but unfortunately Tina is off sick from work and couldn’t come out. The weather was at freezing point, but that didn’t cool our spirit to enjoy a good sing. Adrian suggested that we start with Sussex Wedding Song, then we continued with Jim The Carter Lad and with smiles on our faces we were ready for Poor Froze Out Gardeners, The Magpie, Wassail, Wassail All Over the Town, Sugar Wassail and Here We Come A-Wassailing, before a last glance at Christmas with The Moon Shone Bright.

Without Tina to pitch our starting note quickly and to give us a clue of the tune there was a lot of strange noise before each song took off along a fairly accurate route. We started the second half with The Woodcutter’s Song, and then a few of us managed to sing The Cruel Mother (a Chichester Workshop song!) so that the rest of the group knew why we didn’t often rehearse this tale of woe for public performance! The Turmut Hoer brought us back to our senses and we were quick to find the right pitch. A request for the more modern They Won’t Let Us Go To Sea Anymore had us in stitches as we never did manage to all agree on the key and we churned along like a restless tide. Country Life, followed by All Things Are Quite Silent brought us near to the end of our evening with so many more to sing, but Gooches (Harvey’s) Beer and Fathom The Bowl won with an extra present-day verse from Mac.

We look forward to Tina’s return in so many ways!

Local Group Report – Beechwood Wednesday 4th January 2017

We gathered again at Beechwood Hall on the first Wednesday evening of the new year to enjoy again some winter and wassailing songs in readiness for the Slindon and SDFS wassail events later this month. After first catching up on news and plans we warmed our voices with our old favourite Thousands or More before singing Here We Come a-Wassailing and then the Apple and Sugar Wassails. The Gloucestershire Wassail and the Copper’s Christmas Song also had an airing, with slight and temporary adjustments to the verses or words to acknowledge the turn of the year. Wood was our other theme, with the Slindon Wassail bonfire in mind, and we sang The Woodcutters Song and Oak, Ash and Thorn – taking a long view of the winter season in the latter with its cheering references to midsummer morn and conjuring summer in! In a break one of our singers, Brian, shared with us a little of his knowledge about the history and traditions of Wassail, and the evening finished with some more fun trying a couple of Rounds introduced to us by Emily – with agreement to try these again at Slindon in the hope of getting some audience participation from our fellow wassailers!

Footnote on 15th January... thankfully the Slindon Wassail was a clear moon- and star-lit evening, neither frozen nor wet, and good traditional fun as it had been last year. Our singing by the bonfire presented some challenges as well as warmth (especially for Emily and any singers at the front) as the logs were loaded and the sparks flew, but no harm done and our set concluded with the audience joining in for the Round – success!

“Wassail” and “Good Heil” to all and we hope to see you at our SDFSingers social (Wassail) on 21st January.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Slindon Wassail – Saturday, 14th January 2017

Update 10th February 2017: Here's an update from John C (actually provided by John on 20th January, apologies for the delay in posting it here).

Thanks to much help and support from our trusty N.T. volunteers, the SDF Singers, 'Said the Maiden', 'Kadia', Mythago Morris and the Prize Old Mummers, the Rangers are delighted to report that last Saturday’s Wassail evening was a huge success. Katie is really pleased it all turned out so well (phew!), helped of course by the rain limiting its appearance to the afternoon, then pushing off to leave us with a perfect clear and chilly evening.

As you now-veteran wassailers will know, the flaming torch walk from the College entrance, taking in the orchard behind the yard, before heading down through the village, was a first time experiment. It turned out to be splendid. The atmosphere and jolly conviviality was highly contagious, and we have photographic evidence for those who weren’t around to experience it! Unexpectedly, but nevertheless very welcome, the Irish News came up with a Slindon Wassail report, note the local photographer's credit. Mention of it has also been posted on the Trust's national volunteer website as part of a post entitled 'Apps, Apples, Archaeology & Kipling' by John.

Some of you may have also seen the photograph in the Daily Telegraph on Monday, the fame of Slindon village eh!

The Ranger Raffle made £400, four bean sticks bundles were sold plus numerous log candles. After expenses the event made approximately £600 profit, so some funds to plough back in to buying tools, plus also to covering the Apple Day expenses deficit.

Amazingly around 500+ people attended, so in view of this year's national coverage, the chances are we might have even more punters next year (weather permitting), so maybe some things to work on (extra parking; additional lighting for the straw arena; further field event co-ordination with the procession timings).
Update 10th January 2017: additional information from John C has been added, please scroll down below the map to see this.
Songs from the list below will be chosen on the night, as circumstances allow.
  1. Wassail, Wassail (Gloucestershire)
  2. Oak, Ash and Thorn
  3. Sugar Wassail
  4. Coppers’ Christmas Song
  5. West Sussex Drinking Song
  6. Here We Come A Wassailing
  7. The Woodcutter’s Song
  8. Apple Tree Wassail
  9. The Magpie
  10. Thousands or More
  11. Rounds?
  12. Jolly Good Song

If enough Singers can confirm to be outside Slindon College at 5.45pm we could do a couple of songs before the Wassailing of their orchard, if not then this set is at 7.30pm in the field behind Slindon Forge in Reynolds Lane.

Ranger Raffle prizes:
  • Trailer load of logs
  • Guided personal Slindon Safari tour
  • Three bags of Slindon Charcoal
  • Tractor ride
  • Two-course dinner for two at The George, Eartham
  • Cream tea for two at Motte and Bailey, Arundel
  • Family stay at Gumber Bothy
  • Two log candles
  • Personal guided tour of East Head, in Chichester Harbour
  • Surveying for dormice with the Rangers
  • Up close and personal Badger experience
  • Wild camp experience in the woods with the Rangers

Suggested areas for car parking:
  • Top Road between Slindon College entrance and the Catholic Church, also further east
  • Church Hill
  • School Hill leading up to Gaston Farm
  • Reynolds Lane
  • Mill Road, south of the A29



Further information added 10th January:

Finally you can make this a date in your shiny new 2017 diaries and calendars, and ensure you read this properly because the N.T. & Villagers have  made the decision to take one step closer to Wassailing tradition. Hold on to your Wassailing hats! The N.T. Staff & Volunteers will be setting it up in the days beforehand.

Part 1. The Villagers, NT, SDFS and Mummers

By 5.45pm: Meet at the entrance to Slindon College, where the mysterious masked Mythago Morris will take us to our first Wassail behind the NT Estate Yard at 6.00pm. Those participating can park alongside the College wall in Top Road.

6.15pm (ish): We will parade down to the Jubilee Orchard (behind the Forge Shop / CafĂ© / Village Hall) via Church Hill, with flaming torches held aloft and once there greet our guests and  light the Wassail Bonfire. Mulled cider, pork and apple hot dogs and a licenced bar will be on site.

Part 2. Not just for locals

6.45pm: The merriment begins in the Forge Field and Jubilee Orchard. With ‘Said the Maiden’ and ‘Kadia’ performing their first set.

7.30pm: The South Downs Folk Singers perform their set, with audience participation in two simple ‘Rounds’ at the end.

8.00pm: Mythago Morris will Wassail the Jubilee Orchard accompanied by the other revellers, who can make a 2017 wish and hang it on the oldest apple tree, after dancing in and around it in circles.

8.30pm: The Prize Old Mummers will perform a short topical 15-minute play and invite you to join in and heckle as it progresses.

8.45pm: ‘Said the Maiden’ & ‘Kadia’ will perform their second set.

9:30ish: Time to go home

What you need to bring:
  • £1 per person for entrance
  • £3 per person who would like a flaming torch to hold (over 18s only)
  • Wear warm clothes.
  • A hat decorated with winter greenery and anything else that takes your fancy (there’s a prize for the best).
  • Pots, pans and wooden spoons to be noisy at the Wassailing times.
  • A thought or a wish that you might like to cast upon the oldest tree.
  • Money for drinks, food, CDs, a Wassail mug souvenir and other surprises.
  • Parking will be at a premium so try to car share. There should be  spaces along the College Wall on Top Road, between the A29 and the Village Hall and south of the A29 cross roads in Mill Road  but it will be first come first served.
  • Those Singers who can’t make the earlier time up at the College can meet the rest of us at Forge Field at 6.45pm.
  • Any updates will be added to this post
  • Please email me if you are coming, southdownsfolksingers@gmail.com

John C.


Further information on external websites:
Slindon Village
National Trust

Sussex Traditions

Thanks to Julie T for suggesting that singers may be interested in the Sussex Traditions website. This website has a database containing many old songs collected from singers in Sussex (audio recordings, lyrics and scores are available). Also on offer is a free Folk Song in England one-day course (Saturday, 18th February in Horsham) which some of our singers have already registered for.

Monday, 2 January 2017

A Round for the Festive Season

Here are the two parts to a round that Emily may be teaching us on the 4th January at the Beechwood.

Child of light, star so bright,
Hear the angels singing,
On this dark night.

Hey ho winter snow,
Logs for the fire,
Home we go,
Hear the choir singing.

The tunes are simple and easily picked up. Some of us sang this last month in the Christmas Songs workshop.