The Mellstock Band will be conjuring up the genuine sound and appearance of an 1840s traditional folk band when they bring some Christmas merriment to Penally Village Hall.

In depictions of an old-style rural Christmas, certain images recur: carol-singers trudging through the snow to visit farmsteads and cottages on Christmas Eve, visitors and travellers seeking refuge from the cold, shepherds outdoors guarding their flocks, and by way of contrast, warm cottages, village merrymakings and convivial alehouses.

In their new Christmas show, the Mellstock Band visits all of these, with tales from Thomas Hardy and his contemporaries brought to life in song and music. The band members perform in their 1840s Sunday-best clothes, playing songs, carols and dances from original sources on village band instruments of the time – fiddle, clarinet, concertina and serpent.

1840s folk instruments as used by the Mellstock Band
(Sheila Burnett)

The Mellstock Band is directed by Dave Townsend, who is joined by Caroline Butler, Tim Hill and Phil Humpries for a unique sound. The band's name comes from the name novelist and poet Thomas Hardy gave to his native village of Higher Bockhampton in Dorset. His family were leading local musicians, who led the church band and played for dances. Hardy’s vivid descriptions, the players’ own manuscript books, and music from local tradition were the initial inspiration for the formation of The Mellstock Band in 1986.

Caroline Butler - violin, vocals

Frosty Lanes and Fireside Cheer comes to Penally Village Hall this Friday, December 9, at 7.30pm.

Tickets, which are priced at £10 or £8 for children and students, are available from Judy Williams/ Email [email protected] or call 01834 844467.