Bradford on Avon Carollers

 2017 is the 9th year of singing unusual and local carols in the pubs of Bradford on Avon and these wonderful events have become loved by many. For this year we’ve decided to expand the teaching we give to spread these carols and their arrangements more widely. As well as the one-off learning session on the second Saturday in December there is a new singing group starting in September where you can learn the carols and their harmonies in more detail.

Free singing group for our carols

Learn the Carols with the New Singing Group

First free session on Sunday 24th September 2017 from 2.00pm at

The Saxon Church

Church Street, Bradford on Avon, BA15 1LW

This new weekly singing group, led by Anne Gregson, will learn the carols together with their harmonies ready to sing in the pubs in December. Subsequent sessions from the 1st October onwards will be in the Swan Hotel, Bradford on Avon (see below for location details).

For further information see the Learning page on this website.

Free one-off learning session for our carols

Learn the Carols with the Carollers Band on

Saturday 2nd December 2017 from 4.00pm at

United Church

St Margarets Street, Bradford on Avon, BA15 1DD

Come and learn old Wiltshire carols, songs from the Sheffield carols tradition and more at this special free event. One of our expert choir leaders will teach the tunes and our wonderful band will be on hand to accompany the singing.

Join us in the learning session and the singing group to learn some of the carols we’ll be singing in the pubs of Bradford on Avon in the run up to Christmas. No need to read music, all songs will be taught by ear. Discover some ancient folk carols, including many from Wiltshire and surrounding areas.

Then come and sing them with us!

Sunday 3rd December 2017 from 4.00pm at

The Swan Hotel

1 Church Street, Bradford on Avon, BA15 1LN

Sunday 10th December 2017 from 4.00pm at

The Dog & Fox

Ashley Road, Bradford on Avon, BA15 1RT

Sunday 17th December 2017 From 4.00pm at

The Bear

26 Silver Street, Bradford on Avon, BA15 1JY


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.

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 attempt 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 2017, plus a free session to learn the carols with the Carollers Band providing music:

  • Saturday 2nd December 2017, 4pm at The United Church for the learning session
  • Sunday 3rd December 2017, 4pm at The Swan Hotel for a pub sing
  • Sunday 10th  December 2017, 4pm at The Dog & Fox for a pub sing
  • Sunday 17th December 2017, 4pm at The Bear for a pub sing

There is also the new Singing Group to learn the carols in more depth starting 24th September 2017.

We have collections at the pub sings partly to cover costs (the printing of the word books we give out is the biggest part of this) but mostly for charity. In 2016 we collected for the Trowbridge Song Project specifically to support a project in Calne for singing sessions for adults with learning difficulties and we gave them £296. They will be our charity again for 2017, after which we will choose a new charity.

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!

STOP PRESS – Here is an article about the carols written by our own Anne Gregson and published by English Dance and Song, the magazine of the English Folk Dance & Song Society, in their Winter 2017 issue: Folk in Our Pub.