Saxilby's Choral Tradition
Clare Ella recently gave us several old music festival programmes, press cuttings and choral music, which belonged to her grandfather, who was the secretary of the Sturton Choral Society during the 1930's.
I can find a first mention of Saxilby Choral Society in a Lincolnshire Echo advertisement in 1905, where the organist and choirmaster at St Peter-at-Gowts Church, Mr T W Dunkerton is mentioned as the conductor of Saxilby Choral Society.
At a meeting of the committee of Saxilby Choral Society in 1909, the secretary announced that, acting on the advice of his doctor, Mr J H Bower, who was suffering from an 'affectation' of his eyes, would be unable to continue as conductor during the current season. The Echo reports that great regret was felt by the members of the Society for the loss of their genial and enthusiastic conductor.
During the early 1930's, Lincolnshire County Council began a scheme of district choral societies. For our area, a joint choir was formed, combining the society's of Saxilby, Sturton, Ingham and Scampton.
Amongst Mr Ella's papers is the programme for joint rehearsals for the winter of 1933/4.
The rehearsals were evidently a great success, as a report in the Lincolnshire Chronicle in 1934 testifies
A Lincolnshire “Eisteddfod”
“The person who scoffs at village musical societies nowadays is making himself a laughing stock. With wireless and the grid system steadily creeping across the countryside the difference between town and country dwellers is becoming less and less.
The concert given by the Saxilby, Scampton and Sturton Choral Societies in the Sturton Village Institute can only be described as magnificent.
There were sixty choristers and an orchestra of sixteen.
Mr E C H Elsmere, of Burton-by-Lincoln was the conductor of this combined group.
The main item on the programme was “The May Queen”, in which the principals were Miss C Vasey (Saxilby), Miss M Borman (Lincoln), Mr F Booth (Lincoln) and Mr L W Endersby (Lincoln).
The rendering of this pastoral was not quite perfect, but in view of the fact that there had not been a previous rehearsal with the orchestra, it must be awarded full marks. The performance of Miss Vasey as the May Queen deserves special mention.”
The members of the orchestra are named in the article. Clifford Hewis, assistant organist and choirmaster at the Cathedral, was the pianist.
In March 1934, it was reported that a concert supported by a Lincoln orchestra was held in Saxilby Women's Institute Hut [located on William Street]. The chair was taken by D Lang, Mr G Bartlett conducted, and the accompanist was Miss K Lang. The soloists were Miss C Vasey, Miss D Keall, Mr J W Vasey and Mr Booth. Mr John Hadden gave monologues. Proceeds were for Saxilby Choral Society.
In 1936, the Grantham Journal reported that there had been a large attendance at the annual Grantham Choir Festival in which the principals were Miss Constance Vasey, the conductor of Saxilby Choral Society, and Mr Elsmere of Lincoln.
Miss Vasey was the first prize winner in the soprano section of the Grantham Eisteddfod the same year.
The Journal reports that an appreciative audience thoroughly enjoyed a piano and song recital by Mr Elsmere and Miss Vasey on Saturday evening.
Miss Vasey also sang at the morning service on Sunday at Grantham Methodist Church, and at a musical service in the afternoon!
Connie Vasey trained as a singer in both Lincoln and London. She married John Rawson in 1940. They ran Graysons Grocery and Bakery Store (now the Willow Tree) on the High Street. They later ran the post office from the same premises.
Saxilby Methodist Church Choir 1955