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Sleeve Notes for The Whitchurch Hornpipe by Neil Brookes and Tony Weatherall

The Whitchurch HornpipeNeil Brookes: Fiddles and Flute.
Tony Weatherall: One-Row and Two-row Melodeons.


All the tunes on this album are to be found in a collection of tune books from North Shropshire. Some are dance tunes, whilst others have military connections from the time of the Napoleonic wars. Very few are found in other sources, and from their titles, many appear to be the work of local musicians. Four manuscripts bear the signatures of John Jones (dated1801), James Blackshaw (1837), Richard Hughes (1823) and Albert John Hughes (undated).

Description


All the tunes on this album are to be found in a collection of tune books from North Shropshire. Some are dance tunes, whilst others have military connections from the time of the Napoleonic wars. Very few are found in other sources, and from their titles, many appear to be the work of local musicians. Four manuscripts bear the signatures of John Jones (dated1801), James Blackshaw (1837), Richard Hughes (1823) and Albert John Hughes (undated). They are owned by Mr Richard  Hughes, of Ash, Shropshire. A book by John Clews (1823) is owned by Mr John Hardy, of Audlem, Cheshire. We thank them for their help in our quest to recover some of the lost tunes of the nineteenth century.


Our intention has been to stay close to the music as written, though inevitably our individual styles have modified tunes slightly. We have allowed ourselves the freedom to add harmony where appropriate. Reference numbers in brackets give the initials of the compiler and the relative location of each tune in the collections.


THE MANUSCRIPTS
This collection of tunes is selected from five handwritten manuscript books, dated between 1801 and 1837. Four of the books were compiled by members the family of  Mr Richard Hughes, from Ash, near Whitchurch, Shropshire. The fifth was the tune book of Mr John Clews from Stoke Heath, Stoke upon Tern, Shropshire. It is not certain that they represented the complete repertoires of the musicians who wrote them, but they give us a valuable record of tunes that were popular at the time.


John Clews 1832


The Clews manuscript (dated 1832), together with two handwritten books of hymns and psalms, was discovered during a clear out of a farm loft at Stoke upon Tern. The owner of the farm was the grandfather of Mr John Hardy of Audlem, Cheshire. John, a fiddler and farmer himself, tells us that Clews worked at the Stoke farm as a labourer. The book contains 44 tunes, a number of which are unusual in being arranged for two or three players. Not many of the tunes are associated specifically with dancing, although a few minuets are included, and towards the end of the book the content has a Scottish influence.


John Jones 1801


The four books bearing the signatures of John Jones, Richard Hughes, James Blackshaw and Albert John Hughes were discovered in the loft of the current owner, whose name is also Richard Hughes. A fiddle, two flutes and a clarinet, were also found along with the books. All four musicians are related to Mr Hughes and came from farming backgrounds. We believe that Hughes, Clews and Blackshaw were also associated with Ash village church band.


From Mr Hughes family tree, John Jones is related to the Hughes family as the father of Mr Hughes grandfathers grandmother. His tune book is the earliest of the collection and the style reflects an earlier period accordingly. He includes one or two songs, usually with only the first line or verse. There are 128 tunes in his book.


James Blackshaw 1837


James Blackshaw was a clarinet player and farmed Ash Fields. According to Mr Hughes family history, he played at the inauguration of Ash Church in 1837, and  would almost certainly have known John Clews. His tune book contains some 120 tunes of wide ranging style, including quadrilles, quick steps, and some tunes with titles referring to local places. His daughter Sarah married the current Mr Hughes Grandfather in 1870.


Richard Hughes 1823


Richard Hughes was the uncle of the current owners grandfather and was a fiddle player. His collection of 168 tunes was commenced in 1823, when he would have been 14 years old, and contains some very fine hornpipes, reels and other dance tunes. There are many pieces that reflect the music of the Napoleonic Wars and the local interest in Lord Wellington and Lord Hill. The picture of him with his fiddle suggests
that he was an accomplished musician. Born in Tushingham, near Whitchurch, he lived most of his life at Beech Cottage, Whitchurch. Mr Hughes tells us that he performed for local soirees, which may have included dancing. He apparently asked for no fee, save that he was fed, watered and transported to the venue. His duties for the evening sometimes included the carving of the roast! He died in 1886, leaving no children.


Albert John Hughes (undated)


Albert Hughes was the uncle of Mr Hughes and was born in 1886. Mr Hughes believes the work to be earlier, and that it is probably the work of Richard Hughes. If so, it is likely that the contents represented a separate repertoire that was used for dance purposes. Two of the 31 tunes (which include several quadrille sets) have dance instructions written below the stave.



Track Notes


1 A Favourite Waltz (RH157).


One of our favourites too!

2 Mrs. Cholmondeley’s (JB070); Ellesmere Quick by Davies (JB036)


Mrs C's (pronounced Chumley) probably refers to the wife of the Rector of Hodnet, who actively promoted dancing at his rectory. Ellesmere is a small town not far from the Welsh border. One of the Ash farm workers at this time was a Mr Davies.

3 Sally’s March (JC025).


Almost certainly named after Lord Salisbury, this march is very grand. Was he aware of his nickname, I wonder?

4 Nineteenth Century (JJ025); The Hanley Hornpipe (AJH024).


Hanley is a Potteries town in the neighbouring county of Stafford.

5 The Flock’s in a Cluster (JJ003).


Sounds like it should accompany a Morris dance to me, but I resisted the use of bells on this recording! It is the third entry in Jones’ book, and so possibly is one of the oldest in the collection.

6 Juliana (JC035).


A more well-known dance tune that is nevertheless infrequently played.

7 Lady Nelson’s (RH139); Lady Montgomery’s (RH095); Reel (RH086)


Three of Richard Hughes’ excellent reels, of which there are several in his book.

8 Old Kiss My Lady (JB019).


Well documented in several manuscripts of the time, both as ‘Old’ or ‘New’ versions, it must have been a great favourite of the period. The first part is marked ‘bugle’, the second ‘flute’ and the third part ‘trio’ in the MS.

9 The Old Man Killed with a Cough (RH054); Jack Maddocks (RH050)


Two rather Irish sounding jigs, so we play them accordingly!

10 The Whitchurch Hornpipe (JB002).


Presumably a locally composed melody, this tune has a Welsh flavour. The third part is marked ‘bass solo’.

11 The Kerry March (JB039).


It is likely that the title refers to Kerry, near Newtown in the Welsh Marches. There is also a hill of this name in the region, and walkers may be familiar with the Kerry Ridgeway between Kerry and Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire.

12 The Shropshire Hero (JB032).


Lord Rowland (‘Daddy’) Hill was one of Wellington’s right-hand men, and is undoubtedly the subject of this stirring march.His early schooldays were spent in Ightfield, the neighbouring village to Ash.

13 Worcester Farewell (JJ131); La Belle Jeannette (RH097).


The second tune is known in several manuscripts including the Shropshire tune book of John Moore.

14 Reels: The Woolsack (RH036), Oh What a Row (RH018); Reel (RH092)


Three more reels from Richard Hughes’ book. We hope you don’t find the title of the second reel too apt!

15 The Soldier’s Cloak (JJ056); The Oak Stick (JJ059).


The first is a version of the song in which a Soldier entertains a young lady in his sentry box with the usual consequences! The second is also known as 'Lord Wellington' in Hughes’ manuscript.

16 Albert Hughes’ Waltz (AJH026).


The undated AJH MS may be a separate part of RH’s work, and includes some quadrille sets and a couple of dance notations

17 Wellington’s Victory (RH011).


Presumably referring to the ‘Close Run Thing’ at Waterloo.