CHAPTER 4: Dulcimers in the British Isles since 1800 > Dulcimers in East Anglia

People - 1 of 13

An account of dulcimer people in East Anglia must start with Russell Wortley's research. Russell knew both Will Lawrence and Billy Cooper when they were alive, and recalled his conversations with them:

"The first dulcimer player I saw? Well... Will Lawrence and his cousin Herbert were both dulcimer-players: it ran in the family; Herbert lived at Triplow and in the Summer, I was told, they used to get together - because Will Lawrence was a builder's labourer, so he took a couple of weeks off if he felt like it - he and his cousin would go off on their push-bikes, with their dulcimers slung on their backs, and go round the village feasts, they would know the dates of the different feasts during the summer months, and they would make a round of them; and as long as they paid their way, all well and good.

"They'd play in the pubs, and they would play in the dancing-booths and if they didn't pay their way, well, Will wouldn't have minded selling his dulcimer for a couple of pounds if he could get someone to buy it, p'raps some gypsies, and then he'd make another one next minute. That would give him a spare-time occupation in the Winter, to knock down an old bit of furniture he didn't want and make a dulcimer out of it; his dulcimers were mainly made of second-hand furniture, because you really do need seasoned wood...

"This would have been before, and probably after, the First World War; the dancing booth was a tent, it belonged to the band. It was a travelling band that played for the dancing: Huntley's band was probably the best-known in Cambridge ... it consisted usually of a fiddle, concertina, drum and very often a harp. They were big harps, 5'6" or so high: I saw one in the cottage of one of the chaps who played formerly ...

"Golden Slippers ... that was the signature tune, as it were, of Will Lawrence; he called it 'chaff 'n' cuttings'".