Prue Sarn is blessed: kind and gentle, loving and giving, bright and brave and strong, witty and sensitive and with a figure like an apple-blossom fairy to boot. But she is also cursed; cursed with a hare lip. Would that her mother, being with child, had not chosen that hour to walk in the woods, but the hare did cross her path and the hare is the familiar of witches and the child was marked for life.

Precious Bane is Mary Webb’s story of love and ambition, set in Shropshire’s ‘lakelands’ at a time just after the Napoleonic wars. It is a story of faith and folklore, of pantheism and personal advancement. But above all it is a love story: the love of Prue Sarn for Kester Woodseaves.

Through song and the spoken word, the Village Quire’s Precious Bane is a fresh telling of that story.
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© Original artwork by Erick Gaume for
The Villlage Quire


Running time: 2 x 45 mins (approx)
View the programme online


Our other programmes

Back to the Garden
High Days and Holidays
When Adam Delved...
The Good Old Way
We Know by the Stars
The Holly Bears the Crown
A Village Christmas

West Gallery Music
Vocal Workshops

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Precious Bane – A Tale of Becoming
Maybe you never slept in a cot of rushes, but all of us did at Sarn.  And a nice, clean cradle they made; soft and green, so that the babe could feel as big-sorted as a little caterpillar – painted butterflies-as-is-to-be, Kester calls them – sleeping in its cocoon.  Kester’s very set about such things.  Never will he say caterpillars.  He’ll say, ‘There’s a lot of butterflies-as-is-to-be on our cabbages, Prue.’  He won’t say, ‘It’s winter.’  He’ll say, ‘Summer’s sleeping.’  And there’s no bud little enough nor sad-coloured enough for Kester not to callen it the beginnings of the blow.

Mary Webb: Precious Bane

Sing out!  Sing as one:
There’s not one thing here in this land
That is alive, that cannot grow
And shine just like the morning star.
Venus arising in the rosy air.

Dave Newell: Venus Arising
About The Music – In style, the new songs written for Precious Bane by Dave Newell are inspired by folk-harmony singing, west gallery music, shape note music and early polyphony, plus a smattering of more 'scrunchy' harmonies where the occasion seems to demand it.
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