Christmas is a time of carol singing both in and out of Church. Before the churches had organs a small band used to play in the west gallery and always turned out for such events as Christmas services, Easter, Harvest Festival and events like that. Now the Isles of Scilly Museum has two clarinets and a serpent. These were originally played in the Old Church Band which functioned from the gallery of the Old Town Church. When this was superseded by the new Parish Church in St. Mary's in 1840, the band moved there too. Eventually the band was replaced by the organ and the clarinets and the serpent were on display in the Church, but more recently, for purposes of safety, they were removed into the care of the Museum. The instruments have excited a considerable amount of interest over the years amongst the musicians and people connected with Church music. Only this month Francis Roads of the West Gallery Music Society wrote to me to say the following -
"What would really bring me hot foot to the Scilly Isles is if there
did happen to be any of the music left that was originally used for the
Church band. Old Church band music often turns up in surprising places.
I have just returned -from a trip to the Isle of Man, where I have been
transcribing and editing some West Manx West Gallery Music. Even
while 1 was there, an old manuscript hymn book was discovered in a farmhouse,
where it had been gathering dust for over a century.
Old West Gallery music books often look very unprepossessing. They can be quite small. They are usually written out by hand, with often only one of the usual four parts. Sometimes the words of the psalms and the hymns are copied in, and sometimes not. Often the paper and binding are in poor condition. Such books have turned up in the corners of vestries, in boxes of Church records, in people's cupboards and attics, all over the place. I do not know if it would be worth putting a notice in the local paper, or the Parish Magazine, but if any such music did turn up in the Scilly Isles, it would create great interest in the West Gallery world. "
Hence this note in Scilly-up-to-Date. Should any one have what they think may be an original West Gallery music book I should be very grateful if I could see it and if possible make a copy so the information could be passed on to Francis Roads.
Museum Association has suffered a grievous loss with the death of Peggy
Symons on Thursday, 30th October.
Peggy first came to the islands for a holiday in 1939. After the war she returned to the islands and married Ronald Symons from St. Martins. They lived in their cottage, "Spray View", on Normandy Downs for nearly fifty years.
With the discovery of the Romano-British Nornour artefacts in 1962, Peggy became one of the original trustees of the Museum Association, which was set up to provide a home for them to prevent them from leaving the islands. In 1967 the Museum was opened and visited by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Peggy has always played a full part in running the museum. Initially most of her work was accessioning, numbering and displaying the artefacts as they arrived. Her love of wildlife and the islands soon led her into answering visitors' queries and identifying objects found on the beaches and elsewhere. Her knowledge was remarkable and when she was at loss for an answer, she invariably knew of some one who did know. She worked with the late Raymond Baxter on books and documents in the museum's collections and took over the running of the library and bookstore when he died. In addition to supervising researchers and answering their queries, Peggy answered many letters and maintained correspondence with the questioners over many years. Not the least of her work was the indexing of the books and documents held by the museum, as well as supervising the museum's scrapbooks of newspaper cuttings and ephemera. She helped man the reception desk and the audio-visual shows on Wednesday evenings.
For many years Peggy could always be found in the museum on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and was last there only nine days before she died. She was held in great affection by trustees and volunteers alike and will be sadly missed.
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