Music, Song and Dance in Binsted
Binsted has a long tradition of attracting artists of many kinds - not just painters and writers such as the Wisharts and their gifted friends, but also musicians of many kinds. In the 1970s Jeremy Barlow lived in Binsted and his Broadside Band performed traditional English music at the early Strawberry Fairs. Here is a sample tune:
In the days when the farms employed many more in the village and more entertainment was home-grown, there were the old boys who used to sing traditional and contemporary songs in the pub, what might nowadays be known as 'folk' - Reg Tutt and others are remembered though they can sadly no longer be heard.
But traditional English - and Sussex - tunes and songs are still kept up in Binsted. Binsted resident Tony Elphick and a group of fellow musicians play old local folk and morris tunes at the Strawberry Fair, on instruments such as concertina, recorder, melodeon, fiddle. And Tony with Binsted resident Mike Tristram and other friends sing traditional Sussex songs in unaccompanied harmony, at Binsted's village harvest suppers and elsewhere.Morris dancers, and more modern musical performances, also sometimes feature at the Black Horse pub. Morris sides that have danced at the Black Horse in the past include the Broadwood Morris, of which Binsted resident Tony Elphick is a musician member, and the Chichester Martlets Morris, whose musician member Steve Matcham also plays at the Binsted Strawberry Fair and Harvest Suppers. The photo shows Tony and Steve playing for a mixed event with members of both these morris dance sides.
Seasonal religious performance is also part of the Binsted scene. At the Harvest Service we Plough the Fields and Scatter; and everybody loves singing traditional carols in Binsted Church at Christmas. And at Rogation Sunday a procession across the fields prays for blessing on the new crops.
In some years a group of residents and friends of Binsted put on a Candlelit Advent Meditation in Binsted church, with early religious songs in plainsong and polyphony, and poetry readings from all ages; in some years it has gone afield to other village churches.
Sometimes a performance is more of a one-off. When Binsted was last threatened by an Arundel Bypass route, in 1995, a torchlight procession made its way to the Madonna Pond in Binsted as a demonstration of anger against destructive new road building plans along the south coast.
In the dark by the pond among the torches, a group sang a traditional eighteenth-century harmony song: "Peaceful and lowly in their native soil, they neither know to spin nor care to toil, Yet in confessed magnificence deride our mean attire, and impotence of pride".Above, the torches in front of the Madonna statue at the demonstration in 1995; below, the poster created by Julia Robson for the event.At various stages in its long life, the beautiful thatched cottage at the entrance to Binsted on the Walberton side, historically known as "Beam Ends" but now re-christened Quince Cottage, has alternated between being a much loved Tea Room, and an equally loved private dwelling. In its tea room phases, Binsted community performances there have included Christmas traditional shows, magic lantern shows, and a costumed Thomas Hardy evening with songs readings and poems.