Lewes-based group keeps choral traditions alive

Sussex Harmony
Sussex Harmony

Choral traditions will be kept alive by Sussex Harmony at a special event in Punnetts Town.

Paula Nicholson, of Sussex Harmony, explains: “Music in rural churches in the 18th and 19th centuries was once a community affair with villagers joining in and playing their own instruments.

“Sussex Harmony, a popular Lewes-based group dedicated to keeping this music alive, will perform in costume their new programme, We Singers Make Bold, in aid of Punnetts Town village hall.

“This will cover the seasonal music that would have been heard in Sussex around Christmas time with some readings from the period pre-1850.

“Evicted by the Victorians for being rather raucous, every village church used to have its own band. A group of singers backed by instruments, sang lustily and with great courage. Enthusiasm and volume were more prized than accuracy.

“Stories abound in Sussex of the conflict this caused between village and vicar. In Amberley the vicar ordered the inns not to serve the quire with beer.

“They retaliated by whitewashing all his windows one night.

“The Rev Cole of Warbleton adopted a different tactic. In 1823 he arranged to have a book of his preferred hymns printed for the use of his parishioners.

“He also had sixteen of his most fire-and-brimstone ridden sermons printed for their edification.”

Paula added: “The concert at Punnetts Town village hall at 7.30pm on Saturday, November 29, will include many jolly numbers backed up by curtal, cello, oboe, clarinet, flute and psaltery.

“Entry charge of £5 includes refreshments.”

People can find out more about the music at www.sussexharmony.org.uk or phone Paula Nicholson on 01435 830934.