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'I thought I was the only one!'

'Dulcimer playing in East Anglia - Archival recordings and a film of Billy Bennington'


Billy BenningtonWalter JearyJimmy RodgerMollie WhitakerBilly CooperTommy SparkesOswald StammersCharlie PhilpotReg Reader


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 Appalachian dulcimer.

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.

On the CD we have nine players from Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, each with their own style of playing and level of skill, but all of whom were part of this vibrant living tradition, although some thought that they were the only one still playing-hence the title of this album.


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.

CD Tracks

Billy Bennington (Barford, Norfolk)

1. Dick Hewitt's Favourite Stepdance. (1981)
2. Turn Your Face Towards the Sun. (1981)

3. In & Out the Windows. (1985)
4. Dark Town Strutters’ Ball. (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)
Walter Jeary (Northrepps, Norfolk)

7. Sheringham Breakdown. (1958)
8. Sailor's Hompipe. (1958)

9. Heel and Toe Polka. (1958)

10. Yarmouth Hornpipe. (1958)
Jimmy Rodger (Norwich, Norfolk)

11. Unknown /Bluebells of Scotland. (1975)
12. Over the Rainbow. (1975)

13. Breakdown. (1975)
Mollie Whittaker (Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk)

14. Waltz. (1975)

15. Swanee River. (1987)
16. Stepdance. (1975)
Billy Cooper (Hingham, Norfolk)

17. Soldier's Joy /Girl I Left Behind Me /Breakdown. (1961)
18. Dulcie Bell. (1962)

19. Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms. (1961)
20. Isle of Innisfree. (1960)

21. Old Towler. (1962)

22. Perfect Cure. (1962)

23. Post Horn Gallop. (1962)
24. Hingham Waltz. (own composition) (1963)
Tommy Sparkes (Rattlesden, Suffolk)

25. Soldier's Joy. (1963)

26. Jenny Lind. (1963)
Oswald Stammers (Saffron Walden, Essex)

27. Unidentified tune. (1970)
28. Sailor’s Hornpipe. (1970)
Charlie Philpot (Yoxford, Suffolk)

29. Waltz. (1962)

30. Breakdown. (1962)
Reg Reader (Knodishall, Suffolk)

31. Oscar Woods' Polka /Oh Joe the Boat's Going Over. (1998)
32. Oscar's Waltz. (1998)

33. Lazy Bones /Ain't Misbehaving. (1998)

34. Cat Among the Tails. (1998)
35. My Happiness /China Doll. (1998)

36. Devil Amongst the Tailors. (1998)

37. South of the Border. (1998)
38. The Palm Trees of Kerry /Two Lovely Black Eyes /Charlie Philpot's Waltz. (1998 )


Billy Bennington - Norfolk dulcimer player
On Parade :

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)


Read reviews of this album


   CD + DVD - £13.50 (plus P+P) Add to Basket


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.

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Stepping it Out - iTunes UK





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