Sandy Still

Rod Hall

Allen Miller

Jim Jack


The Dales Collection: Disc One Synopsis

DISC ONE - Around Richmond

1  Potter Thompson

A well-known legend of Richmond, featuring the supposed discovery by Potter Thompson of a cave underneath the castle where he came across the sleeping King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, who were said to be awaiting the call to save Old England should the need arise. He is said to have found in the cave a hunting horn and a sword. Had he been able to produce these, some credence might have been given to his story!

2  Willance's Leap

The starting point for this song is a silver chalice which forms part of the mayoral silver of Richmond. It was presented to the city fathers in 1606 after a miraculous escape from death by Robert Willance when the horse he was riding accidentally leaped over Whitcliffe Scar. The site is preserved in memory by two commemorative stones on the scar and the name "Willance's Leap" appears on Ordinance Survey maps. The song tells the story.

3  The  Explosion in Richmond Marketplace

This incident took place in October 1836 and the song is based on on the recollections of William Wise who, as a young man, was good friends with one of the unfortunate victims of the disaster.  Although only one person died on the day, within a few weeks three more would die of shock, The noise of the blast was heard in the surrounding countryside and those who lived in the town at the time would never forget the day.

4  Stubbs The Bellman

Richmond had long had the services of a bellman to wander through the town, giving proclamations of the latest by-laws of the town corporation and any other news or announcements that anyone might wish to pass round, on payment of a small fee. He lived under the town clock in Trinity Square, where people used to leave their messages. This song is based on the recollections of William Wise, who lived in Richmond in the 1830's, and a character he well-remembered.

5  Richmond Races

Richmond has had a racecourse for centuries, to the north-west of the town. In 1765 the course was moved from the High Moor to the more accessible Low Moor, and in 1775 the imposing stone Grandstand was built, sadly a dilapidated ruin today. The major race of the season was the Gold Cup, worth 120 guineas. It was a day of festivity and celebration, particularly for the two Sergeants-at-Mace, who had the honour of carrying the cup to the racecourse in a great parade. This song is again based on the recollections of William Wise and centres round two Sergeants-at-Mace that he remembered particularly well - Neddy Marley and Bill Brown.

6  Silver Spear

Following on from a song about horse racing is an instrumental about a race horse!

7  The Swaledale Song

This song describes a journey westward into Swaledale, and calls to mind some of the history associated with the various places en route. From Richmond onwards the road never loses sight of the river and frequently crosses it. The two are closely linked in the song also.

8  The Drummer Boy of Richmond

This is perhaps the most famous legend connected with Richmond. It was thought that Richmond Castle and Easby Abbey were connected by a secret underground passage. According to the legend, some soldiers stationed there decided to put this theory to the test, but, being too cowardly themselves, they persuaded their little drummer boy to undertake the expedition.

9  Perse Brackenbury and Willy Vitty

These were two well-known adversaries from the 1830s. - Perse, a tall, respectable magistrate, and Willy, the town drunkard. Willy never forgave Perse for his term of incarceration in Northallerton Jail. However he did become a poet of sorts and would recite his lines of invective towards the latter whenever he could.

10  Richmond Market in 1830

Richmond is the market town for Swaledale and the Saturday market was a very important feature of life in the dale, with people travelling up to twenty miles to buy their goods and make a day of it. This song is based on the eye-witness accounts of William Wise, who lived there in the 1830's and vividly recalls the bustling scene, with a wide variety of wares for sale.

11  The Rokeby Sow

Rokeby Wood lies between the River Greta and the River Tees. This is a very famous story connected with a Sir Ralph of Rokeby of early medieval times, who had in the wood a massive sow that no-one could tame. Fond of practical jokes, and knowing how much the Grey Friars of Richmond liked their ham, he offered the sow as a present to them, on condition that they came and took it away themselves. The song describes the problems encountered and how the Friars had the last laugh.

12  Swaledale Air

This instrumental was written as a reflection of the way in which the River Swale builds up its strength as it travels from  its source at the head of the dale down to Richmond.

13  The Richmond Theatre Royal


Now known as the Georgian Theatre, the theatre had an active history of less than sixty years, the larger part of which was in the hands of one family. This song records the debt to the actress, Tryphosa Brockell, who, with her third husband, Samuel Butler, founded the theatre in 1788, after years of touring round the dales, with no permanent site. Although Tryphosa died within ten years of its opening, her husband, and then their son, ran the theatre until 1830. The song also deals with the many changes of face the theatre underwent in the hundred years before it was restored to its original use.

14  Henry Jenkins

Although he died in 1670 at the supposed age of 169, he could recall vividly events which took place over 150 years before! Lawyers made use of his keen memory when cases of precedence needed adjudication. Whatever his real age, he certainly had a good innings.

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