Thomas Hardy: Christmas Carollings
Anyone fortunate enough to have heard the music of the Dorset folk group, ‘The Yetties’ would have been instantly transported into the world of Dorset poet and novelist, Thomas Hardy. For the Yetties made recordings of Hardys favourite music: using his own fiddle and other musical instruments which once belonged to the Hardy family. Furthermore, several of the families’ ‘Tune Books’ survive: the first having belonged to Hardy’s grandfather, Thomas Hardy I.
A tradition at Christmas was for the choir of local musicians and singers to assemble at the Hardys’ cottage, prior to setting out into the snow to do the rounds of local farms, homesteads, and manor house, in order to entertain their occupants. Hardy recreated this magical scene in Under the Greenwood Tree, published in 1872.
I consider myself fortunate to have visited the cottage on many occasions, and also to have seen Hardy’s very own fiddle when I visited the Dorset County Museum.