Saturday, 27 October 2007

Heart of England

Looking through a stack of CD-ROM discs that had lain forgotten for few years at the back of the cupboard I came across one of music that I saved from the format oblivion that will soon be the sort of vinyl records and tapes.

Among them was “The Heart of England”. This record is important to me as I remember as a child listening to it on a wind-up gramophone that my mother has used as a child. I was fond of the record but hadn't been able to listen to it since then as I accidentally broke it. Many years later I was able to buy another copy second-hand thanks to the Web. The original was a 78 rpm by His Master's Voice that my mother listened to as a child in the 1930s. The replacement copy is a 45 rpm single, I suppose from the 1960s (there's no date on it).

The reissue record has three recordings on it:

  • Daybreak at a Surrey Farm
  • In a Village Churchyard
  • Stedman Caters

Record label of the 78rpm edition of Heart of England“Stedman Caters” is change ringing (a musical composition with no melody) on the bells of St Margaret`s Westminster. “Daybreak at a Surrey Farm” is a recording of birds and animals on a farm at daybreak (chickens cackling in delight having just laid their eggs, cocks crowing, cows, pigs grunting, dogs barking, birds signing). “In a Village Churchyard” is a composition of sounds including a church organ and choir singing Easter hymns, bells ringing, birdsong, insects. Today, these are nostalgia for me but I imagine that when they were recorded they must have been an innovative use of new technology.

Today one expects to find on the Web at least some reference to almost anything that has ever been published. In this case it wasn't so easy. The only reference I found is in a catalogue of second-hand records. I write this blog post to leave some information for anyone else who vainly does the same search as me and draws a blank. This recording does exist and I have heard it.


  1. When we moved house from Dunbar to Musselburgh in 1974 the previous owners left a stack of 78's behind, I remember listening to Daybreak at a Surrey Farm and being somewhat bemused but quite liking it at the time - I was ten years old. I found your blog becasue for some reason this old record popped into my head 38 years later, why? I have no idea......

  2. I'm so glad that after all these years since I wrote the post that somebody has found it useful. I remember when I went looking for information about this music and there was none to be found. I've heard it said "you can find everything on the Internet," but that is far from true.