The Kennedy Grant Library at Halsway Manor by Cynthia and Bonnie Sartin

This week we are delighted to have guest bloggers Cynthia and Bonnie Sartin talking about the work that goes on behind the scenes in our Kennedy Grant Library At Halsway Manor which houses a huge collection of mixed media folk treasures – over to the Sartins…

HalswayManorLibrary (9 of 13)After 15 years of slogging away the 4,000 books and 2,000 records, CDs and tapes in the collection are catalogued, listed and key worded on the computer and accessible. We still have a couple of hundred LPs, about 100 CDs and the archives to sort but we’ll get there. Having said that we are continually receiving donations of CDs and other material from generous performers and visitors to the Manor so the work will carry on even when the final recordings from the Peter Kennedy collection have been added. We are happy to accept any folk related books etc. on the understanding that if we have copies already we will sell any extra ones to raise money for the library. Back copies of EFDSS Journals and Magazines regularly crop up in boxes left for us so we have a good supply of these for sale. By re-cycling these items the library is self-financing. Recently these funds have enabled us to purchase a new computer, a wonderful oak table to put it on and a top quality CD player.  

A lot of interest has been shown recently by people wanting to do research, which is very gratifying. At the ‘Give Voice’ weekend in October we were able to show the residents around the library stock and how to use the computer to find songs etc. This worked well and we were able to help in finding new material for people to sing.

HalswayManorLibrary (3 of 13)The library has provided material for several publications. The William Winter Tune Book and Songs & Stories of Ruth Tongue. Both were local characters; William a fine fiddle player from the 19th century and Ruth a self-styled folklorist and song writer who used to come to Halsway soon after it opened in the mid 1960s. We have also assisted authors writing books about John Short (Yankee Jack the shanty man from Watchet), Charles Marson (who helped Cecil Sharp with his song collecting in Somerset) and the tradition of the Ashen Faggot. Mary Rhodes is now Halsway’s official archivist and she and Cynthia are searching for material to include in a publication that celebrates the activities at the Manor since it opened as a Folk Centre in 1965.

HalswayManorLibrary (8 of 13)The collection covers a wide spectrum of folk-related material. Song, dance, music folklore and storytelling and tutors for many instruments as well as clog, sword and morris dancing. We have noticed that people come in and immediately panic when they see a library but it is very easy to use if you keep a cool head. There are printed catalogues for people who aren’t up to speed with computers but for those who are happy with modern technology a simplified catalogue is also available on the web at www.halswaymanor.org 

HalswayManorLibrary (4 of 13)If you would like more information on the library or would like to make an appointment to book some time in for doing some research, then please contact Viv on office@halswaymanor.org.uk

Cynthia & Bonny Sartin

In anticipation of a marvellous Playford weekend!

PLF_Jul12_another fine picWhen John Playford published the collection of tunes and dances in the Complete Dancing Master in 1651 from his shop close to St Paul’s Church in London, he would be astonished to know it would still be in print in the 21st century. Like all publishers he was trying to make money. To do so he brought together all the top tunes and dances of the time into one popular edition and hit on a winner! Although the tunes are anonymous it’s likely that popular composers of the day, such as Henry Purcell, contributed tunes for some ready cash. It sold out and there were many subsequent editions being published into the beginning of the next century, which is no surprise. Even now, in a world full of every conceivable type of music freely available 24 hours a day in every home, the book still stands out as being packed with great tunes. Tunes that are memorable, hummable, and which work  very well for dancing. There are a handful of duds but surprisingly few. When Paul Hutchinson and I came up with the idea for the Playford Liberation front in 2011, we got together with guitarist Chris Green, Clarinettist Karen Wimhurst, fiddle player Liv Dunne and bass player Wayne Lewis and played through the 1651 edition and we were all impressed by the high hit rate of great melodies.

pasted-file-2The idea of the PLF is to have some fun with the music and the dances. It’s not an original thought and many people have done it before us, but we did feel that, for a number of reasons, Playford wasn’t being taken up by younger musicians and dancers. From a musical point of view we’re keen to experiment with the music by seeing what we can do with the arrangements to make it sound fresh to modern ears. Like all great music it can handle a lot of different approaches. From the dance point of view, the PLF weekend is a great opportunity to get people who go to ceilidhs/barn dances and who don’t normally tackle Playford, to give it a a go!

For a sneak preview and a slice of playford, here is a video when the PLF played Portsmouth! Doesn’t it look fun?

The Halsway Manor Playford Liberation Weekend is 19th to 21st July 2013. For further information on this wonderful weekend of dancing please come and have a look at our website http://www.halswaymanor.org.uk/portal/alias__Halsway/lang__en/tabid__4461/eventid__328/default.aspx

Follow the PLF on Facebook too! https://www.facebook.com/playfordliberationfront

A few weeks ahead…What’s on at Halsway Manor

Morning Folks!

What a lovely return to winter we are having today! I am happily tucked up in the office at Halsway where the world is warm and welcoming. It is always lovely to turn up and the open fires are blazing and the wind outside is roaring. It is pretty picture perfect!

So, I wanted to tell you about a few things we have going on in the weeks ahead at Halsway Manor. If you would like further information on any of the events, then please go to the web site www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

This weekend we have the Irish Set Dancing Weekend and I hope to have some photos that I can post from that, early next week. The following week we are hosting the Anglo Scottish Dance week from 15th to 19th April and are rounding a thoroughly British week off with English Folk Dance and Song Society, an Artists’ professional development weekend on 19th to 21st April. I am pretty sure these are already booked up but if you were interested, then please do call Viv at the office to see if there have been any cancellations, or to book for next year.

At the end of April – (26th to 28th) – Carin Wilkinson is hosting a Baroque Recorder Players weekend and then we have MAY! I can’t believe that we are almost in May and still looking for sunshine! On May 1st we have of course the wonderful May Day celebrations at Halsway Manor, where we greet the dawn with ritual and Maypole dancing and song. We also provide a large breakfast and in the evening we will be putting on a barn dance. This event is open to all and I will be posting some more details a bit closer to the time.

From 10th to 12th of May John Kirkpatrick is staying with us and hosting a Melodeon workshop weekend. This is very popular and will need to be booked in advance, so get booking as there are still a few places left! John will also be giving a concert on the Saturday night, which is open to anyone who would like to come. It is £10 per head and under sixteens are only £4). Kickoff is at 8pm.

May also plays host to a recorder weekend with Pat Fitzpatrick on 17th to 19th May and the American Contra Dance follows this from the 20th to 24th May. This is hosted by Meg Winters and sees the arrival of Sue and Bruce Rosen (Sue the caller and Bruce on Piano) with George Wilson on Fiddle coming all the way from the US.

Halsway Manor are also hosting an Arts and Crafts weekend from 25th to 26th May with some incredible local artists that come and stay ‘in residence’ for the weekend teaching all manner of things from print making to ipad art and sculpture. More of that in another blog soon!

As May draws to an end we have our Early music Week which includes Voices, Viols and recorders, with Michael Sharman and a folk music weekend with Dave Brown, John and  Elaine Meechan, and Christine Corkett – from 31st May to Sunday 2nd June, taking us into the summer months with song and dance!

We hope you will come and join us for some of these fantastic events. If you can’t make a whole weekend, you can always just pop along for the day, just give us a ring to arrange!

Have a great weekend!

Christina