A weekend of Music and Song from the West Country as immortalised in the Poems and Novels of Thomas Hardy

Christmas in Mellstock

A weekend of Music and Song from Hardy Country with The Mellstock Band

Friday 6th to Sunday 8th December at Halsway Manor - National Centre for Folk Arts

The Weekend:

Join Dave Townsend and The Mellstock Band for a weekend in the musical world of Thomas Hardy, exploring forgotten gems of vocal and instrumental music from musicians' manuscripts and early folksong collectors, including members of Hardy's own family. We'll look at three styles of this music - West Gallery, Village Band, and Song in Harmony.

West Gallery Music, dating from 1740 on, was performed in the galleries of village churches and Hardy describes a vibrant tradition where powerful voices, strings and wind instruments mix, and the music is alive with vigorous rhythms, soaring counterpoint and strange harmonies.

Village Band Music, nineteenth-century tunes for dances, marches and songs, and harmony parts which show how the old bands arranged and played their music. We will include a Dance Workshop on the real Dorset dances and steps including longways sets and reels.

Songs in Harmony - alongside Church music Hardy's father's song-book contains a range of convivial songs sung in harmony.

Who's it For?

Singers and musicians of all skill levels. Music and songs were adapted to whatever talents were available with vocal parts assigned accordingly. Instruments appropriate to the time include violin, cello, flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon and serpent. Free reed instruments such as accordions and concertinas, and brass are also welcome.

Don't worry if you can't read music or have never sung in a choir, we'll go through all the parts and discover the best style for singing this vibrant tradition.


Phone 01984 618274 ext 1, or email: office@halswaymanor.org.uk

Full board per person (all meals, accommodation, activities) £165 - £240 depending on room choice.

Discounted options available for camping, bring a campervan (£155) and for non-residents (£145)

Getting Here is Easy!

We're just off the A358 Taunton-Minehead road, approx. 20 mins. from the M5. Mainline railway station in Taunton, from which there is a regular bus service stopping an easy 5 minute walk from our door.

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