Stories of Cumberland and Westmorland: The Thresherman

Stories of Cumberland and Westmorland: The Thresherman


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Stories of Cumberland and Westmorland: The Thresherman

SKU: FM1090 Category:


This arrangement is based on a tune collected by Ann Gilchrist. Gilchrist was a prolific collector of northern folk music. She travelled widely around Lancashire, Westmorland and Cumberland listening to musicians perform and keeping a written record. She heard Mr J Collinson sing The Thresherman at the Westmorland Festival of 1906. Singing competitions were popular at this time, especially as competition organisers offered generous financial prizes for the first three places. This particular competition had none other than Cecil Sharp as its judge.

It’s down in yon valley,
In yon valley of late,
There lived a poor thresherman
Whose family it was great.
He’d a wife and seven children
And most of them were small
And he nothing had but labour
For to maintain them all.

‘Stories of Cumberland & Westmorland’ is a series of pieces influenced by the landscape and heritage of the area where I was born. The county of Cumbria is a place of spectacular mountains and lakes, much loved by visitors to the National Park, but it is also a region with an extensive and beautiful coastline of sand and shingle beaches and tall sandstone cliffs. In between the mountains and the coast is the Solway Plain, a fertile area of land where I grew up on a farm. The uninterrupted view from my childhood bedroom looked out over miles of fields and copses towards Criffel, the mountain whose dark outline dominated the Southern Scottish coastline across the Solway Firth. Looking out from our home in the other direction I could see Skiddaw, one of the four highest fells of the Lake District. Skiddaw is a mountain that draws the attention from almost all directions (apart from the East). It looks down upon a rich past of human history from the Roman occupation to the mineral miners of Tudor times and beyond; from the Viking settlements of the tenth century to the nineteenth century environmental agitators who fought hard to conserve the wild mountain landscape. The surviving manuscript record of music compiled by Cumbrian musicians of the past, kept in archives in a few notebooks and scraps of paper, has been my starting point in getting to grips with this human history and creating music of my own.

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Ed Heslam


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