Update on Unlocking Hampshire’s Musical Heritage


This project has digitised eight substantial music manuscripts from Hampshire Record Office and made them publicly available on archive.org. Detailed cataloguing of the manuscripts has identified around 630 compositions within them, each of which is now catalogued on the specialist music research tool Rèpertoire Internationale des Sources Musicales (RISM). The RISM records include the opening melody of each composition, enabling searches by tune and research on whether each composition is unique or more
widely known (see image overleaf). The catalogue records were made by Royal Holloway undergraduate and postgraduate students, who enjoyed learning about the music in these manuscripts and who received guidance from local experts such as Mike Bailey of The
Madding Crowd.
Highlights of the collection include the 1822 tune book of Richard Pyle, a farmer from Nether Wallop, containing country dances and adaptations of London theatre dances and songs. There are also books of West Gallery music from the villages of Bramley, Hannington and Nether Wallop, including many carols and Christmas hymns. The anthem book of Richard Poole, originally from Withington Gloucestershire and preserved in the parish collections of Kingsclere, contains ambitious music of cathedral standard (including compositions by Henry Purcell, William Croft and John Blow) adapted for the West Gallery style of village ensembles.

Hampshire Archives have created links from their catalogue records to Royal Holloways’s scans and catalogue records. Users of the archive are now asked to use the digital versions where possible, to help conserve the fragile originals.

The project is being publicised  via:
• A printed flyer available at Hampshire Archives and at events such as concerts given by the band The Madding Crowd
• An article in English Dance and Song (April 2024), the magazine of the English Folk Dance and Song Society.
• Discussion with researchers, for instance in the Purcell Society (who have been intrigued to find these adaptations of Purcell’s music for the West Gallery style songs.

Subsequent to gaining funding from Hampshire Archives Trust, Royal Holloway has gained funding from the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council to roll out a similar approach to county record offices across England. Partners in this larger project include Newcastle University, Hampshire Archives and the English Folk Dance and Song Society. The project in Hampshire has therefore become a pilot for the larger project, which will continue until 2026 and will develop public engagement activities in Hampshire and beyond.

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