Music in St Nicholas-at-Wade

Lots of saxophonists

Despite being a small village, St Nicholas has had a strong musical tradition for a long time. There are frequent concerts in the church, which has an excellent organ, and the village primary school's orchestra used to perform regularly in prestigious venues such as the Festival Hall, under the guidance of Jane Browne. Peter Hood is well known for his punched card/MIDI-based 'fairground' organs (Wurlitzers etc.), and his staging of fairs which attracted mechanical music fans from across the country. There used to be an underground recording facility (Impact Studios) at Hall Farm, in Down Barton Road, and further down the road, at Downbarton Farm, various loud rock groups utilized its barns as a rehearsal space, making the most of its isolation, while the singer and conductor Martin Rendle has his studio at Hedgend Industrial Estate. Renowned residents of the village in the past included the violist George Turnlund, and at the opposite end of the spectrum, the Hoodeners' songs are (in)famous far and wide...

It would be nice to say St Nicholas was 'immortalized' in the song "St Nicholas-at-Wade" published by Boosey & Co. in 1924 (words by Royden Barrie — a pseudonym for Harry Rodney Bennett, poet and father of local hero Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, music by Kennedy Russell (1883-1954); this pair went on to produce 'hits' such as Poor Man's Garden). But even the people of the village only rediscovered the song by chance in around 2004. The description in the lyrics is however quite glowing, and of course absolutely true (here is a simple MIDI file of the song). The music is occasionally listed on Amazon.

There's a quaint little sleepy town
Not so far from the sea,
But you'll get no particulars
But the bare name from me,
Or you'd crowd there in millions,
In your best clothes arrayed,
To St Nicholas, St Nicholas, St Nicholas-at-Wade,
St Nicholas-at-Wade

Now the men of St Nicholas
Are the best in the land,
And there ain't much in politics
That they don't understand,
'Twould surprise 'em in parliament
At the wisdom displayed
At St Nicholas, St Nicholas, St Nicholas-at-Wade,
St Nicholas-at-Wade

But as cute as we fellows are,
The maids have us beat,
They're so rosy and cuddlesome,
So winsome and sweet;
Any evening in summer time
It is two in the shade
At St Nicholas, St Nicholas, St Nicholas-at-Wade

Now your London's a finer place,
Aye and smarter, may be,
But altho' it was twice as fine,
You can keep it for me,
All I want is a cottage
And just my own little maid
At St Nicholas, St Nicholas, St Nicholas-at-Wade,
St Nicholas-at-Wade

Here is an amateur recording of the song performed by the village choir (complete with honky tonk piano!).

Here is the choir again, singing an anthem at the annual Harvest Festival:

Here is Coastal Voices singing "Welcome to St Nicholas-at-Wade" (a rearrangement by the organist of "Scarborough Fair", complete with organ interlude):