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Fitzford House

Following the enormous success of "Sir Richard's Cap" in 2008, on Thursday 30th April 2009 the Tavistock Sings! Festival will be presenting a new Cantata from Andrew Wilson's pen. Once again, Professor Liam Snow has provided a fascinating libretto highlighting the rich heritage of Devon. It tells the tale of two (fictional) young people, Daniel Wood and Eulalia Taylor (to be sung by the young Australian soprano, Edwina Smith) who find themselves caught up in the (true) events of the English Civil War in Tavistock between 1642 and 1646.

The town possesses two eloquent memorials to those troubled times. The ruins pictured (right) were at one time the Abbot's Lodging of Tavistock Abbey; by 1642, known as Abbey House, it was the home of the prominent Parliamentarian lawyer Sir John Maynard (1602-1690) (below, left). During a period of Cavalier ascendancy it was sacked by Royalist troops under the command of Sir Ralph Hopton (1596-1651). At the other end of the town their once stood the magnificent  Fitzford House, the headquarters during part of the war of the Royalist commander Sir Richard "Skellum" Grenville (1600-1658). This was torched by the Parliamentarian forces in 1644 and today all that remains is the Gatehouse (below, centre). 

The message of the Cantata is the triumph of love amidst the futility and destruction of war, but along the way there are plenty of opportunities for local colour, for example the chorus of dairy-maids explaining the mysteries of clotted cream and the discontented turnspit's song.


The First Performance

Conductor: Andrew Wilson

Piano: Mary Mazur-Park

Eulalia Taylor: Edwina Smith,

Dan Wood: Steven Phillips,

Esau Wood: Ian Hardy

The Milkmaids: Hannah Batten, Hannah Paull, Roseanna Perry, Fiona Thomas, Sophie Wilson

Kelly Choral Society, Kelly College Junior Choir, Kelly College Preparatory School Choir, Kelly College Senior Choir, Manadon Vale Primary School Choir, Milton Abbot Primary School Choir, St. Peter's Primary School Choir, Tavistock Primary School Choir.