Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Yule Night! by Rev R. L. Gales

Merry Christmas!

This is an intriguing poem by Rev. R. L. Gales who seems to have been a significant supporter of the Peasant Arts movement.  His reference to "Sisters three with shuttle and shears work ceaselessly" and "The Sisters weaving still their thread" seems to be a direct reference to Maude Egerton King, and her sister Ethel Blount.  They had many sisters, but perhaps Marion Hine, who lived in Haslemere and was a typewriter for The Vineyard Press, was the third sister.

from The Vineyard
(No. 39, Vol 27)

At the Yule-tide the mummers go
Thro' woods of holly and mistletoe.

The deep midnight is all aflame
With the horns' din and torches' glare.

They pass a hut where Sisters three
With shuttle and shears work ceaselessly.

Like blood and tears the berries show
Of all the holly and mistletoe.

Deep in the wood a house they see
Half hidden in a mistletoe tree.

They enter in that Holy House
All overhung with the mistletoe boughs.

The blessed place within is bright
With soft kind light like glow-worm light.

A Mother and Babe they see in bliss,
Of Heaven and Earth they see the kiss.

The mummers sing for a broken spell
Thro' all the wood "Nowell, Nowell!"

The Sisters weaving still their thread
Find gold amid their black and red.

Like rubies and pearls the berries glow
Of all the holly and mistletoe."

Sing Hey the Gift! Translated from Gaelic

Godfrey Blount's good friend James A. Campbell (who I wrote about here) translated this old Highland carol from Gaelic for the 1910 Double Christmas Number of The Vineyard (No. 3).  I have found only one reference to this carol elsewhere on the internet, which references the same copy of The Vineyard and states "Even in dour Scotland, with its hatred of religious festivals, some kind of carolling survived here and there among Highland folk, and a remarkable and very “Celtic” Christmas song has been translated from the Gaelic by Mr. J. A. Campbell" (

from The Vineyard,
1910, No. 3

"Sing hey the Gift, sing ho the Gift,
Sing hey the Gift of the Living,
Son of the Dawn, Son of the Star,
Son of the Planet, Son of the Far.  (Twice)
Sing hey the Gift, sing ho the Gift.

"Sing hey the Gift, sing ho the Gift,
Sing hey the Gift of the Living,
Son of Rain, Son of the Dew,
Son of the Cloud-drift, Son of the Blue. (Twice)
Sing hey, etc.

Sing hey the Gift, etc.
Son of the Flame, Son of the Light,
Son of the high Spheres, Son of our Night. (Twice)
Sing hey, etc.

Sing hey the Gift, etc.
Son of Nature, Son of the One,
Son of the New-Moon, Son of the Sun. (Twice)
Sing hey, etc.

Sing hey the Gift, etc.
Son of Mary, Child of her breast,
Son of the kind God, first news and best. (Twice)
Sing hey, etc."

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Little Clothes on the Grass

The 1913 Christmas Number of The Vineyard  (No. 39, Vol 27) includes this short folk song from Calabria (Italy), translated by Grace Warrack:

from The Vineyard (No. 39, Vol 27)

"When the Madonna went down to the brook,
To wash the little clothes of her sweet Son
She did not need to soak and let them soap,
Soil from the linen coming there was none.
And in the grass whereon she stretched them - look!
Flowers of every colour fair have grown!
So, soon again the little clothes she took,
Then folded them, and went and dressed her Son."

Friday, 12 December 2014

Peasant Shopping - Part 5 - mending nerves and digestions

Looking through the Haslemere Educational Museum's press cuttings book I found some interesting clippings about the Haslemere Peasant Arts movement.  It's not easy to see the origin of some of the clippings.  I found an article describing the opening of the Peasant Arts' Society's first shop in Haslemere. I think this is from the West Sussex Gazette 1907:

"Later in the day the Peasant Arts' Society opened their new shop in Haslemere - one of the towns in the Empire which is profiting hugely by the presence within its precincts of cultivated and educated people.  Where such exist - how great the gain!  Where they are lacking - how much poorer in every way is life to every other class of the community.  It is quite probable that in Haslemere, to-day, more happy human lives are being moulded, in all ranks too, in proportion to its extent, than in almost any other town in our area.  This, too, because work is being actually done, things said and lived, ideas urged and ideals promulgated, which do concretely improve the minds, bodies, and hearts of men and women, which do veritably help them to see more of good and joy in life, and to take a deeper and more consistent joy in the living.  You can see the process going on; it is possible to discern the fruit.  On Saturday we were, naturally, most concerned with the work exhibited by the Society just mentioned.

Peasant Arts Society Shop,
No. 1, The Pavement, High Street, Haslemere

"Their London depot has done much to popularise the peasant tapestries and other appliqué work, rugs, and carpets, the output of Haslemere looms: but it was thought well to open this local shop in a community fitted to value the aims of the founders, and likely to aid in their practical success…The members of the Peasant Arts Society take the opportunity of the opening of their first Country Shop to explain the nature of their work and hope.  Their desire is to restore the true country life, its faith, and its crafts, which they believe to be absolutely essential to the saner life of this and every country.  And their work is directed to this end.

"To increase the knowledge and love of Traditional Design, to encourage beautiful useful Hand-work, done under happy conditions in the country, and to sell the products to those who can appreciate them, is their immediate purpose.  The Society is purely philanthropic in this respect, that no private profits will be taken from its own Industries and Shops, all such profits going to further the work and increase its scope.  On the other hand, care is taken to price work at its proper commercial value, so as to maintain a right standard, and in no way to undersell individual craftsmen.

"Hand-work alone is compatible with the truest Country Life: and the larger aim of the Society is to make a Country Movement, whence vital action can proceed to effect the real re-population of England, and the restoration to our people of their hands, their faith, and their country-side.  In so far as the public will appreciate its ideals and help its efforts, its work will go forward; having done its best, with the public will lie its failure of success.

"Many are helping; but on Saturday the burden of reception fell chiefly on Mr. and Mrs. Godfrey Blount and Mrs. Joseph King.  The rooms were delightful, as the happy visiting throng attested.  We welcomed especially the dainty and daring peasant work in metal, ware, and wood imported from German, Austrian, and Norwegian valleys, where artistic handicrafts (unconsciously artistic in many cases) still flourish.  Mr. Godfrey Blount is an untiring apostle in this new type of international entente; and its is sweeter than cannon and less disruptive.

"As yet, the promoters have to depend on the purchases of those likely to value beauty in the home furniture and accoutrements.  And their name is not yet legion.  Still, they are growing more numerous.  Everyone who is taught the joy of artistic and direct handicraft, all who are led to watch and appreciate it, each induced to make it one with his or her daily surroundings, will aid in the creation of a market where all the producers will be competent and all the buyers sane.  We believe in modern machinery, for by it many handy things are done; and we hold that the modern world is fitted in all respects to the folk who make it up.  But we welcome the note here struck for happy human handiwork.  What nerves and digestions it will mend; what leisure it will enrich into how many country homes in England may it not one day bring health, reward, and joy."

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Peasant Shopping - Part 4 - Sew Your Own Peasant Tapestry

In the Surrey Times (2 September 1899) they reported on the Haslemere Weaving Industry.  At this point we can see that there was no Peasant Shop in business in Haslemere.  In addition it appears that 'sew-your-own-kits' are not a new concept.  

The Tapestry Studio, Kings Road, Haslemere from
Art Journal, 1906

"The work is sold at the depot in London of the Peasant Arts Society, and is exhibited at the Arts and Crafts, Homes Arts, and other handcart exhibitions….Specimens of Peasant Tapestry will be on view at the Tapestry House daily where also orders can be received for finished work, or work prepared for those who desire to sew it themselves."

Monday, 1 December 2014

Peasant Shopping - Part 3 - Arthur Hughes drawings

Three drawings that formed the basis of the Arthur Hughes 1910 Christmas cards (in my previous post) are below.  These were advertised in the December 1910 The Vineyard for sale at 4p each.  It says that the cards were printed in red and black.

Bethlehem by Arthur Hughes
from The Vineyard, 1910

Noel by Arthur Hughes
from The Vineyard, 1910
The Bright Midnight by Arthur Hughes
from The Vineyard, 1910
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