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The gallery … looked down upon and knew the habits of the nave to its remotest peculiarity … Such topics as that the clerk was always chewing tobacco except at the moment of crying amen; that he had a dust-hole in his pew; … that a pair of lovers touched fingers through a knot-hole in their pews in the manner ordained by their great exemplars, Pyramus and Thisbe; that Mrs. Ledlow, the farmer’s wife, counted her money and reckoned her week’s marketing expenses during the first lesson – all news to those below – were stale subjects here.

So wrote Thomas Hardy in ‘Under The Greenwood Tree’. Our programme views life in a rural parish of the late eighteenth century from the lofty vantage point of the singing gallery. Largely light-hearted, occasionally poignant snapshots seen through the lens of West Gallery music, folk song and catches, framed by the poetry and prose of Hardy, Fred Archer and Parson James Woodforde amongst others.

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