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A manuscript from Ashover, Derbyshire, circa 1762-1775

PDFs of our only source, an early 20thC copy, along with early 20thC notes, can be seen at Internet Archive :-

Transcribed into ABC Music Notation for The Village Music Project by Chris Partington

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This is a brief manuscript tune book, containing 16 dance tunes, with dance instructions.
Many of the tunes found their way into the repertoire of The New Victory Band and thus into general currency in the late 1970's, early ‘80s in England.
Five of the tunes were published by the Sheffield branch of the EFDSS in 1927, with an interpretation of the dances and piano accompaniment.

Most pages contain dance instructions in the stylised manner of the printed collections of the period, which I have not attempted to reproduce.
However, an earlier researcher has provided an interpretation of most of the dances, who's faithfulness to the original I am not qualified.. etc, etc.
These interpretations are very similar to but not identical with the above mentioned EFDSS interpretations.

The tunes are all clearly written and presented no difficulties in transcription.

The '''Ashover Manuscript''' is attributed to Joshua Harrison and David Wall. Nothing is yet known about Harrison but David Wall was a bassoon player. There is a memorial plaque at All Saints' Church, Ashover, which appears from time to time in anthologies of epitaphs. It reads:-

"To the memory of David Wall
Whose superior performance on the bassoon endeared him
To an extensive musical acquaintance.
His social life closed on the 4th Dec. 1796. in his 57th year."

First inscribed page:-
"A Book Of Tunes
Joshua Harrison, David Wall, 1762"

Second inscribed page:-
"David Wall, His Book, 1775"

There are dance instructions and tunes for:

* The Black Boy
* Bonny Cate
* The Duchess of Hamilton's Rant
* The Scotch Bamble
* Harper's Frolick
* London
* The Fantocini
* The Polygon
* The Dance of the Polygon
* The Spanish Dance
* One More Dance and Then
* Russian Dance
* Major O'Flacherty
* Roman Reel
* Rockingham Reel

'''Five Country Dances ''together with their tunes''''' was published by the Sheffield branch of the English Folk Dance Society in 1927 (a few years prior to amalgamation with the Folk-Song Society) containing the following dances, with facsimiles from the MS:

* The Russian Dance
* Bonnie Cate
* Major O'Flacherty
* The Duchess of Hamilton's Rant
* The Black Boy

A brief notice appeared in EFDS News, number 16, February 1928, pp87-8 :-

''The "Ashover" Country Dances.

The Sheffield Branch of the E.F.D.S. has published five Country Dances, transcribed from David Wall's manuscript, Ashover (Derbyshire), 1764. The publication contains facsimiles of the original manuscript together with the notation of the dances as transcribed by members of the Branch and the music arranged by G. F. Linfoot. The book is published at 4s. and can be obtained from the Hon. Secretary of the Branch, Miss H. Mawson, 80, Kenbourne Road, Sharrow, Sheffield.''

It was apparently reprinted in 1936 and again some time after the war, the final edition being a pamphlet without the facsimiles and with Major O'Flacherty's Jig omitted. From hearsay, it appears that the transcribed dance instructions may not correspond very closely to the originals. (With acknowledgement to the late Malcolm Douglas.)

Colin Hume has carried out a thorough investigation of the dance notation and the dances, with his interpretations, on his website.

Chris Partington

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