Catsfield Quire: In the 18th & 19th centuries St. Laurence Church had a Quire, a group of singers and other villagers who played perhaps fiddles, a cello, a flute, a clarionet maybe even a bassoon.

The musicians having played for a dance on the Saturday night would turn up on Sunday together with the singers to lead the service up in a gallery at the west end of the church. Who played what or who sang is not known but what they sang and played is, thanks largely to one man, Canon Kenneth H MacDermott.

In the late 19th century when he was curate of Hurstpierpoint, he began his research into this music prompted by an old manuscript book he was given. He wrote to over 200 church choirmasters seeking information about church bands and their music. With the resultant information he was able publish a book entitled ’The Old Church Gallery Minstrels’.

Amongst the documents he received were 9 books from Catsfield, some from Miss Louisa Blackman (grand-daughter of a Robert Blackman) and some from a Mr T C Poulter, whose great-grandfather, a Mr Crouch, was a musician in the band. They of course were all hand written and most quite tricky to decipher, they contained 175 different items of music.

Almost 25 years ago some of this robust music, with strong tunes and words, was published in a book entitled ’The Singing Seat’ (another name for the west gallery).

So to celebrate Sussex Day, Sussex Harmony, a West Gallery Quire, is returning to Catsfield to perform a selection of these pieces interwoven with readings and snippets of history from the period.

The concert is on 16th June in the Village Hall starting at 7.30p.m.

It will be free to come in BUT there is a retiring collection. Refreshments will be available and participation in singing some of the pieces will be encouraged

Reflections on a garden: The weather has certainly been kind this past week, apart from the day that I actually sat down to write my weekly state of the nation. Sorry, I am getting above myself. State of the garden. It has allowed my good lady and I an inordinate amount of time to spend weeding, plant repositioning, mowing and basket remodelling. The latter employment requires, of course, that trip to the garden centre, in this case Great Park Farm, to peruse, touch, cogitate and generally experience those money moving habits that so delight the senses of both my good lady and myself. I guess it all stems from that age old feeling of envy - they have it, why haven’t I? Oh well, it all adds to marital bliss.

The basket-replanting has necessitated the partial scarifying of one section of a lawn. This has been undertaken in the capable hands of my good lady. Her trusty rake removes the moss from an area beneath the washing line spinner, which perhaps sees more than its fair share of moisture, as the laundry dries in the breeze and the good weather, leading to an overabundance of moss in this area of the garden. There is very little tumble-drying in this house, I can tell you.

Last year’s crop of basket plants and moss are discarded and, I hasten to add, recycled, and the new moss is carefully positioned around the circumference of the wire contraption and held in place by punctured black plastic, which will subsequently hold the compost and this summer’s choice of blooms, dark red geraniums. As the almost purple profusion eventually hangs over the sides, seemingly suspended in mid air, the work effort required to reach that end, will at last be rewarded.

It has also been a week of hedge-trimming, now that the first batch of our feathered friend’s newborns have left the nest. To see them lined up on the wooden arms of the arbour, from which our bird feeders hang, housing an assortment of fatballs and seeds, while their parents flit from one to the other, trying to satisfy their rapacious appetites, is truly fascinating to behold. The number of different species availing themselves of our larder appears to be growing by the week. Having heard on the radio of the worrying decline in the numbers of lesser spotted woodpeckers, what have we seen this week, grabbing the fatball cage as it uses its spear-like beak to puncture the food source, none other than one of these magnificent birds.

However, in the interim, to give the birds the peace and quiet around their nests my good lady believes they deserve, the hedges have all looked as though they were sporting an unruly mullet. I guess it is my virgoen nature and the need for relative order that comes to the fore at these times, rather than the artistic bent associated with a taurean personality, which allows the natural flow of the subject to find its own level, even though it may cause uniformity to disappear from the view, as in the case of our hedges. I think that was nicely put reader, don’t you?

The gaps between patio stones, whether they follow a square pattern or an amalgam of different shapes and sizes, are a haven, after a few years, for seeds, which eventually enter the world as unwanted specimens of green. If left for any length of time, they cause havoc on the look of the patio’s surface that has seen many a barbecue, a lazy sunday afternoon or at times a full blown party with, dare I say it, dancing. It also destabilises the sand and cement mixture, brushed between the stones many years ago when the patio was first constructed, to bind and hold. To address the situation requires a kneeling stance, a blunt thin chisel and lots of patience and, I might add, a new set of patellas at the end of the session.

More next week........

East Sussex Hearing Resource Centre: East Sussex Hearing Resource Centre is a registered charity working in partnership with Adult Social Care to provide a no charge mobile information and advice service for Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people living in East Sussex. The vehicle is equipped to offer demonstrations of assistive equipment and hearing screening tests.

The mobile unit will be visiting Battle on Thursday 7th June 2018, and will be in Market Square from 10.30am – 3.30pm.

The bus is accessible to wheelchair users and representatives from both the East Sussex Hearing Resource Centre and Adult Social Care will be available to provide individual information and advice on all aspects of hearing loss.

For further information please contact: East Sussex Hearing Resource Centre, Tel: 01323 722505 (voice/text/fax) e-mail:

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