Taking tea with William Barnes

A CELEBRATION of the Dorset dialect poet, linguist and polymath William Barnes has become an annual fixture in the calendar of Dorset’s rural touring arts charity Artsreach and the Ridgeway Singers and Band. This year the event, Tea with William Barnes, will be at The Exchange at Sturminster Newton on Sunday 25th February at 3pm, with poetry and other readings, tea and a local food market.

This “tea party” is very much in the spirit of Barnes, who was born at Bagber, near Sturminster Newton, and who relished the huge variety of Dorset country dances, folksongs and carols. He often wrote about community celebrations where music was a key part of the proceedings.

Alongside a delicious Dorset cream tea, The Ridgeway Singers and Band, led by Tim Laycock and Phil Humphries, will perform traditional songs from across the county, some of which were collected by the Hammond brothers, play dance tunes from the repertoire of fiddler Benjamin Rose and perform an arrangement of the Vaughan-Williams setting of William Barnes’ famous poem, My Orchard in Linden Lea. Some of Barnes’ much-loved poems will be recited by members of the William Barnes Society, who help to keep alive the rich dialect of Dorset.

Artsreach is also working in partnership with Dorset Food & Drink to host a mini pop-up producers and makers market in the Exchange atrium on the day, offering the chance to try some famous local produce or discover something new made in Dorset! The pop-up market will be open to the public from 10am-3pm.