Based in Crediton, Devon. enquiries(at)creditonwestgallery.org.uk 01363 877216
We usually meet twice a month on Thursday evenings for rehearsals at St Lawrence Chapel,Threshers, Crediton, from 7.30 pm to 9.00 pm. New singers and instrumentalists are always welcome.
During the year we perform at a number of public events and concerts
West Gallery Quire Crediton
In 1990, three of today's Quire members took part in a televised celebration of Thomas Hardy's life. They so enjoyed themselves that the West Gallery Quire in Crediton was born. Since then we have sung for concerts in churches, chapels, for the Devonshire Association, from pub to Bishop's Palace, and for services such as Evensong for the 950th anniversary of one of Exeter's oldest churches.
Quite deliberately, much of our repertoire is by West Country composers. More of their work is still coming to light, not only in the South West, but from sources elsewhere in the country. We are always glad to learn of more old West Gallery music, whether in printed or manuscript form, and with the owner's blessing, we have a chance to bring it back to life.
In our performances we always like to incorporate references to local happenings and interests of the period. We find snippets from local papers, diaries, and the wide variety of civic and personal material held in the County Record Offices. Some things may look trite or banal, but if they happened in your parish, they were important.
We have had a lot of fun over the years, and if you are a potential singer or instrumentalist you are very welcome to join us at one of our rehearsals.
West Gallery Music
Due to absentee clergy between c.1700 and 1850 the conduct of worship in country churches was often left to the Parish Clerk and his quire of singers and instrumentalists, who were usually located in a gallery at the west end of the church. Violin, clarinet, flute, cello, bassoon and serpent were the most commonly used instruments to accompany the singers. These same musicians would also be available to play for afternoon or evening devotions of Dissenters and Nonconformists, as well as for village dances, marriage ceremonies, harvest feasts and private parties.
Music was frequently composed, played, sung and enjoyed by local people. If a parish could boast a couple of competent musicians or a musical family, its quire might offer musical settings for Psalms, other formal parts of the service, and even possibly for some new hymns. One Dorset quire was alleged to know three psalm tunes, referred to as "this 'un, that 'un, and t'other".
Although local musicians might not travel very far, many would carry a tune in their head until it could be written down. Nevertheless, their books of music most certainly did travel further afield. Standardisation of the tunes only came after the Oxford Movement and the publication of Hymns Ancient and Modern, after about 1850.