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Sleeve Notes for Tenants of The Earth by The Mellstock Band

Tenants of The EarthMusic of English Village bands of the last century: instrumental, male and female vocals and harmonies from The Mellstock Quire, early nineteenth century instruments, clarinets, flute, serpent, trombone, oboes, vox humana, fife, violin, concertina, percussion.


This album highlights the sacred and secular nature of the work of the jobbing local musician in the last century. The varied music ranges from vigorous dance music to the marches of the militia bands, and from the carols of the West Gallery choirs to the songs of the pub and the fireside.

The Mellstock Band appeared in the 1996 BBC Television production of Pride and Prejudice as well as film versions of the Return of the Native and The Woodlanders.

On BBC national radio, as well as guest appearances on Round Midnight and Folk on 2, they provided the music for the 1994 classical serial version of the Mayor of Casterbridge. More recent television appearances include  Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

The band has toured Europe and Africa for the British Council and has also toured in the USA.

They take their name from the fictional name which poet and novelist, Thomas Hardy, gave to his home parish of Stinford in Dorset, South West England. Hardys vigorous portrayals of music, song and dancing have been an inspiration to the Mellstock band and they perform music from the Hardy familys collection of manuscript books.

They usually use instruments in their early nineteenth-century forms for their distinctive authentic sounds such as the clear incisive tone of the boxwood C clarinet, the warmth of the classical oboe and its tenor cousin, the vox humana, the purity of the English concertinas tone, and the deep rich note of the serpent.

Track Notes

1 Old Wiltshire

2 The Persian Dance/The Waterloo Dance

3 How Happys the Man

4 Money Musk/Billy Boy/This Day the Stag Must Die/Fred Williams Irish Jig

5 Budmouth Dears/The Downfall of Paris

6 Sweet Jenny Jones

7 Devils Reel/Money Musk/Haul Away the Hawser

8 Newtons or St Pauls

9 The Swiss Boy/William Giles Quadrille

10 With Raptures Abounding

11 The Original Polka/The Redowa Polka

12 Great Things

13 Grandmothers/Hooks no. 27/Cuckoos Nest

14 Rejoice Ye Tenants of the Earth

15 The Wounded Hussar/Time to Remenber the Poor

16 Derby/The Knifegrinder/Ware Out Mother

17 Rejoice All men

18 Boneys Farewell/Hythe March/Newark Quickstep

19 The Shepherds Amazed