The Purbeck Village Quire

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About Us

Purbeck Village Quire is a group of singers and instrumentalists who enjoy meeting together to perform ‘West Gallery’ and folk music, much of which was composed by people who lived and worked in the Purbeck villages. The Purbeck Village Quire was founded by Rollo Woods in 1989.

We are delighted that Rollo Woods has been awarded the EFDSS Gold Badge. Gold Badges are given for unique or outstanding contributions to folk music, dance or song and Rollo’s award was announced on 21st August 2015.

Interview of Rollo Woods by BBC Radio Solent

What do we sing?

A large part of our repertoire consists of music written in celebration of the main seasons of the year; i.e. Christmas and Harvest. In addition, we perform music that would have been very popular in the villages; in Churches, Pubs and Village Festivals around 1850, also drawing on the novels of Thomas Hardy. In fact we frequently sing Church music that would have been very familiar to him, many of the arrangements coming straight from the hand-written manuscript books of his Father and Grandfather. We like to perform in costumes of the period to give our presentation a more authentic feel.

Why ‘West Gallery’, and why ‘Quire’?

Up to about 1860, the singing in most English churches and chapels was led, not by an organ, but by a small group of singers and a band, usually situated in a gallery at the west end of the church. Thomas Hardy used the old spelling ‘Quire’ to describe this combination of band and singers, and we have adopted his suggestion.

The Quire is very pleased to present evenings of West Gallery Music for Charities or other organisations. All fees paid to the Quire, and profits from CDs sold, support the Quire’s Charitable Trust that seeks to promote the knowledge and performance of music, especially amongst children and young people.

The Quire has recorded two CDs ‘Round the Year with the Village Quire’ and ‘Christmas in Purbeck’; and filmed a DVD called ‘A Village Christmas from Dorset Past’ to celebrate its 20th Birthday. They are all obtainable by phoning John Pullen on 01929 423505, or by email on pullenswanage@gmail.com 

The PVQ has also appeared on BBC2 in a programme presented by Howard Goodall and first broadcast on Christmas Day 2008 (and repeated in 2009 & 2010) entitled ‘The Truth about Christmas Carols’, and have performed with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the New Scorpion Band in a concert featuring English Traditional music in Poole Lighthouse in December 2010 and again on 17th December 2011.

We also have library containing source material on West Gallery Music, traditions & costume.