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Thankful Villages Volume 2

by Darren Hayman

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Cundall 02:33
Flixborough 04:20
Chantry 01:43
Tellisford 03:02
Woolley 03:16
Shapwick 02:27
Cromwell 03:31
Wrigsley 02:29
East Norton 02:46
Maplebeck 03:53
Arkholme 03:06
Colwinston 02:47
Woodend 03:00
Coln Rogers 01:01


A Thankful Village is a village where every soldier returned alive from World War I. The writer, journalist and educator Arthur Mee coined the term ‘Thankful Village’ in his series of guidebooks, The King’s England in the 1930s. Darren Hayman visited each of the 54 Thankful Villages and, focussing on village life, made a piece of music and a short film for every one. Some take the form of instrumentals inspired by the location, some are interviews with village residents set to music, others are new songs with lyrics or found local traditional songs.


released May 26, 2017

Thankful Villages Label Copy
1. Cundall
2. Norton-Le-Clay
3. Flixborough
4. Chantry
5. Tellisford
6. Woolley
7. Shapwick
8. Cromwell
9. Wigsley
10. East Norton
11. Maplebeck
12. Stretton En Le Field
13. Nether Kellet
14. Arkholme
15. Colwinston
16. Upper Slaughter
17. Woodend
18. Coln Rogers
Vinyl, Track listing
Side A
1. Cundall
2. Norton-Le-Clay
3. Flixborough
4. Chantry
5. Tellisford
6. Woolley
7. Shapwick
8. Cromwell
9. Wigsley

Side B

1. East Norton
2. Maplebeck
3. Stretton En Le Field
4. Nether Kellet
5. Arkholme
6. Colwinston
7. Upper Slaughter
8. Woodend
9. Coln Rogers

A Thankful Village is a village where every soldier returned alive from World War I. The writer, journalist and educator Arthur Mee coined the term ‘Thankful Village’ in his series of guidebooks, The King’s England in the 1930s. Darren Hayman visited each of the 54 Thankful Villages and, focussing on village life, made a piece of music and a short film for every one. Some take the form of instrumentals inspired by the location, some are interviews with village residents set to music, others are new songs with lyrics or found local traditional songs.

All music performed by Darren Hayman except:
Emma Winston – Keyboards on Cundall and Norton Le Clay, harmonium on Tellisford, Vocal on Woolley and East Norton, vocal and piano on Shapwick,
Ian Button – Drums on Norton Le Clay, Cromwell, Arkholme, Colwinston, Upper Slaughter and Woodend, vocals on East Norton
David Sheppard – Guitar on Tellisford
Dave Watkins – Banjo on Tellisford
Dan Mayfield – Violin on Tellisford, Maplebeck and Woodend
Helen Sanderson-White – Vocals on Wigsley
Citizen Helene – Vocals on East Norton
Rob Halcrow – Baritone Horn on Maplebeck, bass on Woodend
Rob St John – Field recording, programming and mixing on Nether Kellet

Judy Dyble - Lead Vocals on Upper Slaughter
Choir on Arkholme – Pete Astor, Andy Lewis, Ian Button, Emma Cooper, Dave Watkins, Robert Rotifer, Rob Halcrow, Ruby Wright, Spaceship Mark, Rebecca Williamson, Jack Hayter, Phil Gillen, Andy Field, Heidi, Helen Sanderson-White, Eivind Kirkby, Robert Wells, Mark Boxall, John Howard, Dan Mayfield, Emma Winston, Matt Ashton.
Vocals on Colwinston – Thomas Nicholas, Ida Lattimer-Keller, Aphra and Skyler Villiers, Abigail Forbes
All songs written by Darren Hayman (©2016) except…
Cundal and Norton Le Clay by Darren Hayman and Emma Winston (©2016)
Nether Kellet by Darren Hayman and Rob St John (©2016)
Upper Slaughter by Darren Hayman and Judy Dyble (©2016)
Special thanks to Judith Pudden, Mark Nelson and Abigail Forbes.

Song notes…
Cundall, Yorkshire

The sun is already low as we approach Cundal but that's ok, we are staying on a farm. Me and Emma are given tea in the living room and clearly thought of as couple. That's ok, we only need the double bed to lay out our synthesisers and make them hum whilst the village sleeps.

Emma catches the last of the sunlight on her Diana camera, judging the exposure with her finger on a small plastic lever. The process is random and fault laden. We double expose. We shoot ourselves in domed safety mirrors.

We go to our room and decorate the divan with keyboards and patch leads. We wear headphones and no one knows the noise we make.

We make the oscillators sound like trees and leaves and incongruous new builds. We make music by accident, just like the accident of us even being here.
Norton Le Clay, Yorkshire

The day after Cundall, me and Emma drove to Norton Le Clay. The church was decommissioned, there was a sharp bend in the road and almost as soon as you entered the village you were driving out of it.

We found a huge green house with shattered, glass and shards hanging from it. It was sitting there right in the middle of the village like a broken temple.

We made an odd hiccupy tune in a perculiar key.
Then I let it lie there on my hard drive for almost a year. I knew I wanted to write something about a Belgian refugee who had ended up in the village during the war. She stayed here until she died. Her name is on a bench.

I wrote a song about opening doors and letting people in. Helping those that need help.

It's what we used to do. It's what Norton Le Clay did.
Flixborough, Lincolnshire

In 1974 a chemical plant on an industrial site near Flixborough exploded leaving 28 people dead. It was one of britain’s largest ever non-nuclear explosions. Every roof in Flixborough was lifted or set ablaze, yet no villagers were killed.

I spoke to Derek Green and his son Andrew. Derek has lived as a farmer both before and ever since the disaster.

I arrive early and try to understand the relationship between the slightly broken settlement and it’s crumbling industrial half sibling.

The pub is dead, the building is on offer to the community to make something of it. I find a small gauge railway track with a cat skeleton by it's side. The disused line takes me to the industrial site, much of it padlocked and rusted, though some of it still working. I have mud on my shoes and I worry about the first impressions I will give Derek.

We talk of nothing other than thankfulness and gratitude.
Chantry, Somerset

Back to solo travelling for my visit to Chantry. Ok, just one last church. It is Easter after all.

They have made an effigy of the crucified Christ, from pieces of B and Q battening and used barbed wire as his crown of thorns.

In fact I do not recognize it as Christ at all immediately. The church itself is as intricately carved and crafted as I have now come to expect Somerset churches to be.

Sometimes I look into the villages, sometimes they stare hard back at me. Sometimes I just look hard at myself. Sometimes I could be anywhere. The journeys are long and lonely and I am prone to introspection. I am selfish; I probably let you down Chantry.

I shrank into myself.

This is song about turning back time, but you can't. Then you try and persuade people to make everything like before, but it’s impossible.

Tellisford, Somerset
Tellisford falls sharply into a valley. On a sunny day like this you have to stop yourself breaking into a run down to the River Frome. There is a spot famed for wild swimming by the weir in Tellisford. It is a bright sunny day and we only have to follow the bathers down past the mill and over the bridge.
Rolling fields of buttercup speckled green run down to the weir. A large picnic crowd have put up blue and white bunting. Dogs run freely off lead and dandelions, dragonfly and frisbees fill the air.
It’s the largest group of people I’ve been amongst in a thankful village and the youngest too. The sound of laughter and splashing fills the valley and no-one is scared of the water.
A World War 2 pill box sits by the weir and two boys make it their castle. Their towels become flags and they are kings of the weir.
Woolley, Somerset
I plucked the nylon strings of ‘Pyewacket’ on the bench under the blossom and used her back as a drum. The sky threatened but never delivered. I feel we should let Arthur Mee’s words guide us every now and then on these journeys. Woolley, in fact, was the first Thankful Village Mee found.
The tune still lacked a chorus and a few months later a friend bought me a book of Somerset folk songs. ‘Rosebud in June’ was collected by Cecil Sharp from a farmer, William King, of West Hastree, Somerset.
One of the ideas of Thankful Villages is to allow randomness to help me create. Arthur Mee and the luck of World War 1 chose where I would go and fate handed me this song. I laid the words and tune of ‘Rosebud’ over the chords of my half finished chorus and in between Arthur’s words.
Everything seemed to be where it was supposed to be.
Shapwick, Somerset

There's a few Shapwicks, I got myself into a muddle. I was nearly booked to play the Shapwick village fete before realising it was the wrong Shapwick.

There's more than a few Mistletoe Brides as well. It's a folk tale that travels around and a few places lay claim to the story.

Folk tales float like leaves on a breeze, they land wherever they find plausibility.

There is a manor in Shapwick at least, as there was in the story.

We found leaves pinned onto truncated trees with different coloured drawing pins. Why would someone pin leaves to a tree trunk? What would they be doing?

I wrote a song at the top of some stairs leading to a back entrance to the church. It summer, Christmas was along way away. I was a long way from home.

I floated into Shapwick on a breeze. I pinned a story to it. I drifted out again.
Cromwell, Nottinghamshire

It was a long chain of people that lead us to Dennis' door. I know Judith Pudden and Marjorie Goss guided me in the right direction.

Dennis had worked on the rivers all of his life. I could have picked as many as five of Dennis' stories but the one I chose was this tale about death on the weir.

When we left Dennis said, come again, please come again, drop by. He had stories left to tell.

We went further into Cromwell. The church was decommissioned; the dolls museum was closed too.

'I think you can phone and make an appointment,' said a neighbour with little conviction.

The River Trent and the weir are tricky to find from the main street. We drive down a winding lane that becomes almost too narrow for a car. The landscape opens up to reveal the magnificent weir.

The village is limping on but the weir thunders with life.
Wigsley, Nottinghamshire
During World War 2 Wigsley was home to an RAF airfield. It was nicknamed the ‘Cemetery of Lights’ due to its terrible luck.
On 11th June 1943, a Lancaster bomber was on a training mission when it’s wing tip clipped a telegraph pole and crashed into number 25 Highfield Avenue in nearby Lincoln. Five civilians died and all but one of the seven crew.
The airfield and control tower are still there. The control tower is forlorn and broken and covered in spray paint. What was the runway is now the main road into Wigsley.
A nearby wind turbine thrums gently and makes me think of propellers. I imagine someone in the tower with binoculars counting the planes out and then counting them back in again.
It’s been more than half a century since the building was in use. I wondered what else it’s walls had seen since then.
East Norton, Leicestershire
Too much time on my own. Too many empty streets. I want to find the community.
We drove to the East Norton Fete on a beautiful August day. We drank cloudy lemonade and ate sandwiches on a bench in the churchyard. We went bell ringing and found a stain glass window dedicated to the safe return of the men in the Great War.
East Norton Fete is held in the grounds of East Norton Hall. There wes only a few stalls, but they served a beautiful cream tea and my cup came with a tiny apostle spoon.
East Norton is full of ghosts. The school, the police office and the railway station are all houses now, but their names are written in stone. Things used to be more permanent.
As we drove home we got a phone call to tell us we’d won the raffle.
Maplebeck, Nottinghamshire
I have visited Maplebeck three times now.
On the first visit, we visited Claudine in the Beehive pub; and her 15 year old cat. We talked for a long time about the history of the pub and the old landlord who used to let his pig drink the last of the beer barrels at the end of the night.
We also met Judith in the graveyard. She had a plan of all the graves and was cleaning them with a toothbrush. Trying to match the fading names to the church records.
I went back to the village about 10 months later to talk to Judith some more. Judith bought along her friend Rachel who had researched the history of Maplebeck and uncovered many photos in the process.
My third visit to Maplebeck was with my band and we played the Thankful Villages project thus far to the villagers in their hall. I was so grateful.
Stretton En Le Field, Leicestershire
I’d been researching songs at the Bodleian Library, Oxford University and the Vaughan Williams library at Cecil Sharp House.
‘A Dark Girl Dressed in Blue’ seems to have it’s root in Leicestershire though not specifically the area of Stretton En Le Field. I was drawn to the song because it dealt with a journey from Leicestershire to London whereas I was doing the opposite.
Often on my Thankful Villages project I write and record the basic song in situ but add parts later at home. In Stretton En Le Field I recorded the entire song and made the video on an app on my ipad.
I crouched by the side of the road and played a toy piano in the light rain. I stared at sad looking pumpkins and watched removal trucks taking a family out of the village.
Everything was to and fro.
Nether Kellet, Lancashire
I saw Rob St John do a talk on underwater sound recording and his beautiful album ‘Surface Tension’.
I invited him to come with me to Nether Kellet in Lancashire.
Rob records with binaural microphones. They sit in his ears. As he records he looks like he is concentrating very hard. It was rains hard but Rob likes the sound.
The clouds part and the sun comes out. We heard the sound of the village change, birds twittered, cattle moaned, doors opened and people came out. We recorded the twang of barbed wire fences and the outflow pipe at a nearby quarry.
I went off to Arkholme but returned to Nether Kellet that night. The Limeburners Arms was open. It was a small, antiquated pub and inside was a photo of the woman’s football team during the war.
Me and Rob batted the recordings between Lancashire and London. We arranged the sounds of a village waking up.
Arkholme, Lancashire

The village in Arkholme seemed a little over protective. He said he didn’t think the villagers would have anything to say to me.

I looked elsewhere and found a folk song about the death of eight men on the river Lune. It seemed to echo the story in Cromwell. Rivers are powerful beasts.

I meet Gerald Lees in the Bay Horse, we talk by a crackling fire. Gerry has written a book about the Lancashire Thankful Villages called ‘Thankful and not so Thankful.’ He is full of details about the wars and we find a connection between my folk song and two soldiers who lived in the Ferryman’s cottage. You can hear him at the end of this recording.

That evening I went to the village bonfire night. The villagers were warm and friendly. I filmed the community at play and made a short film for their website.

Arkholme started off cold but soon got warm.

Colwinston, Glamorgan

Every New Year’s Day, the village of Colwinston plays the game of Collyball, a sport where swedes are rolled down the hill. The furthest wins. Swedes are used in place of the more name appropriate cauliflowers.

Alun has a booming baritone voice and seems to be the guiding hand of the village. In the morning at the annual football match he distributes sherry. He leads the villagers from the field to the Sycamore Tree pub for lunch, he gathers them for the game of Collyball and then organises the ‘decorate the swede’ competition.
Colwinston is a close knit community. They seem to share a genuinely funny and offbeat sense of humour. Colwinston has arranged it’s own cinema night in the village hall and has a philosophical society that meets regularly in the Sycamore.
I record a colourful set of chimes in a playground next to a friendship bench.
Colwinston is the happiest of the blessed villages.
Upper Slaughter, Gloucestershire
Judy Dyble agreed to go with me to Upper Slaughter, not far from where she lived. We took Molly, her greyhound, with us. Judy understood the project immediately. We had only been in the village five minutes before Judy had started talking to a stranger and got us invited to the village soup afternoon.
We ate delicious soup underneath group pictures of the village. Talk was of the plight of the village. Upper Slaughter has an older population and a high proportion of holiday homes. We left a donation and sat by the River Eye.
I recorded Judy strumming chords on her auto-harp and drew a picture of Molly.

If the accidental theme of Thankful Villages Vol 1 was the church then the theme of Volume 2 has been the river. The river has slowly woven its way through the songs and it snaked its way into Judy’s beautiful lyrics too.
Woodend, Northamptonshire

Three planes crashed above Woodend in World War 2. Two came down but one still flew. I’m trying to imagine how three planes can crash in the air. In 2010 archaeologists found one of the pilots’ bracelets. A simple shrine and information panel over looks an empty field.
Woodend is all gables and gravel drives. The Methodist Chapel is a now a house as they so often are. There is a neat row of green recycle bins outside a line of post war houses. One has a huge ‘Help for Heroes’ flag in its garden.
Spring has just come to Woodend and Snowdrops, Daffodils and Hyacinths decorate the grass verges. I hide in a concrete bus shelter and collected together all the notes I had for Woodend. I strung them together and a made a list song.
Woodend had it’s arms around me.
Coln Rogers, Gloucestershire

Coln Rogers is another village on a river. The river Coln, in fact runs into the Thames. I could build a raft and let it carry me home. I was heading home in any case.
It was early spring and Coln Rogers fluttered glowed in the sunlight. There were daffodils everywhere. It was late afternoon, when the sunlight changes quickly. I set up cameras on time lapse to capture the moving shadows. I used a sample app and set up random looped lengths so the stringed instruments fluttered and collided in random ways.
I painted the tree line. I painted a telegraph pole. Volume 2 has seen me meet far more people than Volume 1, but here I was, alone again. A villager walked up and down the main street and called on neighbours. She said hello and looked at my paintings, then left me alone again.


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