Friday 23 December 2011


Whilst we don't go carolling hereabouts, I did in my Southampton childhood (being a Hampshire Hog, though of Devon stock through and through on dad's side.) Just a bunch of kids, well wrapped up in the evenings leading up to Christmas, and hoping for a bit of spending money - which we normally got - a sixpence here or a thrupppence there, and the Posh House once giving us half a crown between us, so we must have sung well for them!

Here is fellow Hampshire Hog (and more claim to it than I) Norman Goodland's take on Carol singing:

"Carols is funny things! They bain't all to do wi' Christmas! if you dont ring 'em oout proper, they might not answer the door, not gie thee nar 'apence!"

Foster Father was delivering his annual lecture to the Baughurst bell-ringers, of whom he was Captain. They practiced in Foster Mother's scullery, on the handbells.

I remember them - big bewhiskered men, shirt sleeved and leather belted, standing facing each other in a double row. Flashing up the brass bells. hecking the swing with broad thumb, to make them 'speak'' in their clear, fluid tones. It was all taken very seriously. Standards were high; they had to be, to impress the gentry upon whom they called.

They walked from Baughurst to Wolverton, back through Ramsdell and Pamber End, and home through what was then known as the 'gypsy'' village of Tadley. Or made their way up to Heath End, aiming for the high spot of the season - Aldermaston Hall.

"We had to watch they sarvint galls!" Father once told me. "They was always up to mischief!"

"We was invited up to the hall oncest. We 'ad to go in through the back, an' through the kitchens, y'see. An' we left our 'ats in the kitchen along wi' they gals.

"We went in and give a tune or two to the Master and the Mistress, and them as was there. They gie us a sovereign! They told us to go back to the kitchens and Cook would gie us a drink.

"So we done that. And when 'twas time to get on, they gals was round the door away from the light. An' they wouldn't gie us our 'ats until we give 'em a Christmas kiss.

"Waal - yu never put yer 'at on inside a gentleman's 'ouse, luk. So we put 'em on outside in the dark - so we didn't see what was gwine on.

"Anyways. We went on down to the Hhind's Head, t'other end o' the street. We went in, took off our 'ats - an' everybody started to laugh! We didn't know what to make on it! 'Til we looked at each other - an' then we seed we all 'ad white 'air - like a bunch of old men!

"Twas they sarvint gals! They'd put flour in our 'ats - whiles we was a-carollin' for the Master!"

Father and his bell-ringers faced some competition from other Christmas and New Year rounders - the village bands of the time - The August Hill Drum and Fife Band. The Temperence Bands; one from Tadley, one from Baughurst. But is is said at the end of their rounds, the Temperence Bands were not more temperate than Father and his bell-ringers, when they came to clanking up the garden path well after midnight, to collect their bicycles and wobble their ways home!

Taken from "A Hampshire Christmas" compiled by Sara Tiller.


  1. Oh what a lovely snow covered path for a winters walk, and a nice vignette about carols and bell ringers.

  2. That was this time last year Terra - the main lane down to the main road (A40). It went on to give us about a foot of snow - looked very pretty but a real nuisance trying to get Danny to and from work as we're 3 1/2 miles off the main road.

  3. Have a wonderful Christmas. Love the snow covered road. It's around 80 here in s.e. FL USA and doesn't feel like Christmas at all this year.

    May 2012 be filled with many blessings.


  4. Funny isn't it how absolutely beautiful snow looks in this picture and how absolutely awful it is when it falls where we live. Happy Christmas.

  5. Gorgeous photos Jennie, enjoy the festivities and hope 2012 brings all good things x

  6. Gorgeous photos Jennie - must admit that I'm glad that they're not from this year! Have a wonderful Christmas.

  7. Oour church youth fellowship went caroling every Christmas Eve--then it was back to the parsonage for hot cocoa and such before heading to church for the midnight service. Very chilly standing out to sing. I always think of that bit in A Child's Christmas in Wales--where the cracked old voice joins in with the carolers from behind a closed door--scaring them all away.

  8. Sending Christmas wishes to you and your family.
    May many blessings bestowed upon you for the coming year.
    Thank you for your wonderful blogging and letting all of us in sharing your life.
    Merry Christmas

  9. i think snow is lovely wherever it falls,we don't get enough of it here in England.But maybe that it because i was born on the twelth day of Christmas in 1947,which was one of the snowiest ever years.I was born at my Grandmother's house but could'nt be taken home to my parent's house for six weeks due to the snow.

  10. I love Christmas carolers and haven't heard any in years. Always enjoy your Blog, hope you have a Merry Christmas!