The Larks of Dean Quire
"Up in the Forest of Rossendale, between Deerplay Moor and the wild hill called Swinshaw, there is a little lone valley, a green cup in the mountains, called Dean.
The inhabitants of this valley are so notable for their love of music that they are known all through the vales of Rossendale as Th` Deighn Layrocks, or
The Larks of Dean."
Those are the words of Lancashire author, Edwin Waugh, on the subject of the composers, singers, and instrumentalists whose activities spanned the years between the 1740s and the 1860s.
Theirs was the music of ordinary people - weavers, spinners, farm-hands, who used the strong harmonies and counterpoint that tended to be ignored by the trained choirs of the high church.
Anyone familiar with Thomas Hardy`s Under The Greenwood Tree will know of his loving account of the Mellstock Quire, a band of singers and musicians, including his own father and grandfather. Their robust melody-making issued forth from the west gallery of Stinsford Church in pre-Victorian days, as did similar music in similar galleries all over the country, giving rise to the term West Gallery Music, by which this style of singing has become known in recent years.
For a more detailed history, you can go here to read Jean Seymour's article about The Larks Of Dean.
Today's Larks of Dean Quire continue this tradition, though our rendering of hymns, psalms, anthems, and carols, are mostly performed unaccompanied. We usually meet on the 1st & 3rd Sundays of each month at Bury United Reformed Church, Parson's Lane, Bury, BL9 0LY. If you live within easy reach of Bury, and are interested in singing or playing this kind of music - or if you wish us to perform at your church, concert, folk-festival, do please get in touch.
Contact: Jean Seymour 0161 7611544 email
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