Bradford on Avon Carollers
2022: the carols are back in the pubs!
2010 was the first year of singing unusual and local carols in the pubs of Bradford on Avon and over the years these wonderful events have become loved by many. Of course in 2020 we weren’t able to sing in the pubs but we were able to have an online Zoom event which worked surprisingly well. See a video of the event here. In 2021 the pandemic was still causing everone problems but we did manage one outdoor sing in the garden of the Dog & Fox on the 19th December. Our purpose in both years was to maintain some continuity so that when we returned to the pubs we had kept the tradition alive. And this year we return to live singing in the pubs!
Learn the Carols with the Carols Choir
Sunday 13th November 2022
1 Church Street, Bradford on Avon, BA15 1LW
Sunday 27th November at 3pm – special session with the Carols Band!
This is a continuation of the very successful singing group started in 2017 by Anne Gregson and Masha Kaestner to learn the carols together with their harmonies ready to sing in the pubs in December. If you came before then come along and refresh your memories of the songs. If you’ve never been before come along anyway. All the sessions are free and all parts will be taught ‘by ear’ so you don’t need to be able to read music. You will find the sessions in the Coach House by the car park at the back of the pub.
Not to be missed, the final session will have the Carols Band playing and accompanying the singing. All are welcome whether you’ve been to the earlier sessions or not. You’ll be taught the carols and get a real flavour of the carol sings ready to sing in the pubs. For further information about the carols themselves see the Learning page on this website.
Sunday 4th December 2022 from 4.00pm at
1 Church Street, Bradford on Avon, BA15 1LN
Sunday 11th December 2022 from 4.00pm at
Ashley Road, Bradford on Avon, BA15 1RT
This year, for the first time, we will be singing in the (sizable and very comfortable) Club Room at the pub.
Sunday 18th December 2022 From 4.00pm at
35 Market Place, Bradford on Avon, BA15 1LL
A singing ‘tradition’ …
Every year since 2010 we have had some wonderful sessions in what is becoming a continuing tradition of singing local ‘village’ Christmas carols in pubs in Bradford on Avon. So as our new ‘tradition’ becomes more firmly established this website will tell you all about what happens, where and why. You can hear some of the carols and see video. You can read learned discourse upon the history of the carol or just let the music wash over you. Come on in, the water’s lovely!
The Carolling Tradition
You might think that the standard Christmas Carols you have sung since childhood are all the carols there are. So you might be surprised to know that there is a long and rich heritage of people singing Christmas carols from their own particular part of the country which are now largely unknown. Even the Christmas carols you do know were sung to many different tunes – some people estimate that there are at least four hundred different tunes to While Shepherds Watched for example. In fact, carolling was not even restricted to Christmas but singing carols was a popular part of religious festivities throughout the year. Maybe that’s why in everyday language we will not just talk about carols but specifically about Christmas carols. Many of these carols originated in the 18th or early 19th century at a time when most churches had a wooden gallery at the back where choirs, accompanied by bands of mixed instruments, led the singing.
Christmas carols in particular also became linked with traditions such as Wassailing, which involved visiting farms and houses and singing in return for refreshment. These visits also contained folk elements that some would recognise as having pagan origins.
In some parts of Britain, these traditions have been kept alive. The mass singing in some of the pubs in North Sheffield and North Derbyshire, which takes place in the second half of November and all December, and which are often referred to as ‘The Sheffield Carols’, has been described as one of the most remarkable instances of popular traditional singing in the British Isles.
Carols in Bradford on Avon
In Bradford on Avon, a town rich with history and tradition, we are continuing with our effort to get singing of unusual and traditional Christmas carols back into the pubs of Bradford on Avon. Some of our local singing leaders and folk musicians, many of whom are veterans of the Sheffield tradition have once again got their heads together to arrange three singing events for this year, plus a free singing group to learn the carols in more depth. All the sings are open to all comers and will have the Carols Band providing music:
- Sunday 4th December 2022, 4pm at The Swan Hotel
- Sunday 11th December 2022, 4pm at The Dog & Fox
- Sunday 18th December 2022, 4pm at The Dandy Lion
The Singing Group to learn the carols in more depth starts on Sunday 6th November 2022 at the Swan Hotel (Coach House) .
We have collections at the pub sings for charity. In 2018 we collected for the foodbank at Bradford on Avon Hub and we gave them the quite phenomenal amount of £572.78. Our charity for 2019 was the Zone Club at the Wiltshire Music Centre, an amazing monthly club for young adults aged 16+ with learning disabilities for whom we raised £483.78. In 2021 from the one outdoor sing we collected £129.77 for Dorothy House. This year (2022) we’ve decided that the scale of economic problems that face all of us mean that The Hub would be an appropriate charity to choose again. In previous years we have taken a small amount to cover printing but this year we are very pleased to announce that the Bradford on Avon Preservation Society is covering all our printing costs. Our thanks for that.
In the rest of this site you will find recordings of the some of the carols as we sing them, some video and words so you will get a good idea of what we are all about. But most importantly, come along and join in. We can promise you, you won’t ever forget it!