'I thought I was the only one!'
'Dulcimer playing in East Anglia - Archival recordings and a film of Billy Bennington'
There have probably been more dulcimer players and makers in
East Anglia than in any other area of England. In this
region it was called just a dulcimer, not a ‘hammered’
dulcimer as it is known in America, to distinguish it from the hourglass shaped
In East Anglia the old players used cane beaters, typically wound with wool and their instruments were often highly decorated with an integral hinged stand to enable them to be played on a table. The other distinguishing feature of the East Anglian dulcimer is that the bridges are individual not continuous as in other traditions. These, often called 'chessman' bridges, allowed for a more chromatic tuning, as some could be moved to the left or right. Interest in the dulcimer was at its peak in East Anglia from around 1850 to 1930. The demand for instruments provided work for both skilled instrument makers and jobbing carpenters and also encouraged home-made creations.
The DVD features Billy Bennington playing dulcimer, talking
and dancing his jig doll. The film which was made by Garland films for the
English Folk Dance & Song Society in 1979.
More biographical notes and photographs of these and many other dulcimer players, as well information about the instruments and makers from Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire, can be found on the dedicated web site:
The website is based on research carried out by John & Katie Howson, between 1978 and the present day. This research is ongoing, so we would be pleased to hear from anyone who has any information about East Anglian dulcimers, players or makers from the past.
Billy Bennington (Barford, Norfolk)
1. Dick Hewitt's Favourite Stepdance. (1981)
3. In & Out the Windows. (1985)
5. Sailor’s Hornpipe. (1985) 6. Down at the Old Bull and Bush /Daisy Belle /Dicky
Bird /Peggy O'Neill /Come Round Any Old Time /I Belong to Glasgow. (1981)
7. Sheringham Breakdown. (1958)
9. Heel and Toe Polka. (1958)
10. Yarmouth Hornpipe. (1958)
11. Unknown /Bluebells of Scotland. (1975)
13. Breakdown. (1975)
14. Waltz. (1975)
15. Swanee River. (1987)
17. Soldier's Joy /Girl I Left Behind Me /Breakdown. (1961)
19. Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms. (1961)
21. Old Towler. (1962)
22. Perfect Cure. (1962)
23. Post Horn Gallop. (1962)
25. Soldier's Joy. (1963)
26. Jenny Lind. (1963)
27. Unidentified tune. (1970)
29. Waltz. (1962)
30. Breakdown. (1962)
31. Oscar Woods' Polka /Oh Joe the Boat's Going Over. (1998)
33. Lazy Bones /Ain't Misbehaving. (1998)
34. Cat Among the Tails. (1998)
36. Devil Amongst the Tailors. (1998)
37. South of the Border. (1998)
Pony Trot Polka :
Chicken Reel :
Lovely Lucerne :
Dulcie Belle :
My Beloved Cornelia :
Riding Up To Derby :
Heel and Toe Polka :
Jig Doll - tune, Norfolk Breakdown (pre-recorded by Billy Bennington)
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MP3 downloads are available from all major digital retailers, as full albums or individual tracks, and there you can listen to a sample of each track. The following links will take you directly to this album's page on amazon or iTunes.