May 29, 2018

Phezants tour off to a Phlyer!

The Lynn News spreading the good news

We chronicled everything and now he is gone we keep his story alive like a robin singing i' the woods...

Sedgeford-Ely folk-storytelling combo The Penland Phezants got their Hereward The Wake tour off to a flying start with a sell out show at the Bury St Edmunds Arts Festival last week.

The show, whose full name is "As Free As The Waters That Flow Through The Fen; A Very English Resistance; The True Story of Hereward the Wake"  had to be moved to a bigger venue when the original venue provided by the Milkmaid Folk Club passed its capacity. 

There was more good news for the Phezants as Fring Church booked the folk trio for a performance of Hereward's adventures on July 9, just before their performance at Ely Folk Festival on July 14. All of the words and half of the music of the 90 minute extravaganza have been written in Sedgeford and the show has had all of its rehearsals there. West Norfolk Phezant spotters now have an opportunity to see the show performed in the idyllic setting of Fring's 13C church, near the band's home ground. 

Further local interest may be piqued  by the working up of the one key incident in Hereward's story which actually happened in Norfolk, which writer Gareth Calway has plausibly set in a historically researched 11th century Lynn, then a tiny new development on the south eastern corner of the Wash.

Hereward's story is told through the eyes of the Green Monk, played by the author, who fights at Hereward's side during the underdoggĂ©d English resistance of Norman cruelty and arrogance, and through the stirring folk ballads of  Sweyn Freeborn, the Viking, played by gifted folksinger and guitarist Andy Wall. The spirit of the Greenwood is evoked by the harp melodies and harmonies of Wood, a Fairy harper played by Vanessa Wood-Davies.

May 07, 2018

1068 and All That - first stop Bury Saint Edmunds Arts Festival May 23

The Penland Phezants bring you "As Free As The Waters That Flow Through The Fen; A Very English Resistance: The True Story of Hereward The Wake."

950 years ago, Hereward the Wake came home (from outlawry, exile and a gallery of bold and magical adventures in Cornwall, Ireland and Flanders) as a famous warrior and the leading military genius of his age. He was no Little Englander, speaking several European languages and with experience of leading several foreign armies, and as at home with Danes as with Saxons: his name means 'Head of the army' in both Danish and English. But he did not come home to rest on his laurels. He came home to lead the growing English Resistance against the Norman Conquest. Hereward first avenged the Norman murder of his brother and theft of his manor in his home town of Bourne in Lincolnshire, then established himself in the Isle of Ely alongside the Earl of Morcar (the dead King Harold's brother) and King Sweyn of Denmark, repeatedly outwitting a desperate siege of the Isle personally led by William the Conqueror himself. 

So successful was Hereward's defence that William, incredibly, was on the point of offering peace terms when Hereward was betrayed by his erstwhile military allies, the Abbot and monks of Ely Abbey. The ever-elusive Hereward escaped to further historic triumphs against William's armies at Burgh (Peterborough) and the later rearguard victories against all odds in Fenland, Lincolnshire Greenwood and the ancient Saxon forests of Northamptonshire.

Gareth Calway's 90 minute narrative tells the full story, from the magical folk tales of Hereward's early continental career to his historic defence of Saxon England. Based closely on the honest Latin chronicles compiled by 12C monks, this historically-based narrative gives full rein to the Freeborn English humour and derring do of a real life Robin Hood. (The Robin Hood legend borrows much of the spirit and many of Hereward's real-life adventures.) 

The compelling narrative is given a period flavour by harp music composed and performed by Welsh Romany-influenced harpist Vanessa Wood-Davies and a folk perspective by a sequence of new ballads written by poet Gareth Calway and folk musician Andy Wall.  The Penland Phezants' stirring performance of these is a particular highlight of and perfect fit for this great English folk tale.

Starts: 8pm
Tickets: £10, £2 discount off top price band for Festival Friends, purchase ten or more tickets in one transaction and save £1 per ticket 
Venue: Station Hill Social Club, Bury St Edmunds