REVIEW: Carols by Candlelight at Bailiffscourt Chapel

Arguably one of the most beautiful Christmas choral anthems of the 20th century was scribbled in a day to fund a happy evening's beer drinking.

Carols at Bailiffscourt
Carols at Bailiffscourt

Bethlehem Down was composed by Peter Warlock and set to a poem by Bruce Blunt and sent to the Daily Telegraph in 1927 for its annual carol competition - which it rightly won.

How many pints of beer the prize funded is unclear.

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The story of this masterpiece was related by the Bailiffscourt Quartet at a candlelit evening of carols in the 13th century chapel at Climping in West Sussex.

Carols at Bailiffscourt

There is nothing like music and haunting lyric to set the tone for the festive period and this gem of an evening captured perfectly the mood.

The chapel was decorated and lit with hundreds of candles and the quartet dazzled the simple setting with carols from across the centuries.

Naturally, those composed in the 19th century took centre stage. After all, no generation did more to create the homely and slightly ornately Gothic interpretation of Christmas than the Victorians.

But there were songs too from across the globe - Spain, Poland, and the Ukraine - before the evening concluded with a glow of North American singing splendour - Jingle Bells, Winter Wonderland and the now almost obligatory Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

Carols at Bailiffscourt

The music set in the stunningly simplistic chapel were followed by a three course Christmas banquet with all the trimmings in the hotel itself.

General Manager Chris Alger, a host who always adds a welcome touch of theatrical charm to any event at Bailiffscourt, ensured the countdown to Christmas had begun in style.

Carols at Bailiffscourt