Alfred Cyril Hathaway (1929-2007)

By Chandler, Keith | Folk Music Journal, Annual 2008 | Go to article overview

Alfred Cyril Hathaway (1929-2007)


Chandler, Keith, Folk Music Journal


Alfred Cyril Hathaway, widely and affectionately known as 'Alf', was born in the idyllic Cotswold town of Chipping Campden in 1929. His was a musical legacy that spanned at least three generations. His grandfather, Denis William Hathaway (born at Condicote, c.1867), had played the fiddle and tin whistle, while both he and his wife, Esther Louisa Veale Taylor, were proficient on concertina. Esther's grandfather, Thomas Ramell Veale (born at Cow Honeybourne, c. 1829), had been a dancer in the morris set at Chipping Campden prior to the cessation of regular performance, probably during the 1850s. When Denis decided to revive the tradition of morris dancing in the town, he called upon his relative's memories for choreographic details; adding these to his own memories of the performances of the Longborough morris dancers when he was a boy, he created a hybrid dance repertoire, which persists to this day.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The first performance of the revived Campden dance set almost certainly took place at the towns Grand Parade and Floral Fete held on Whit Monday 1896, with the Oxford photographer Henry Taunt conveniently at hand to document the occasion. Denis continued to play for the set until his death in 1925. When, after a short lapse, it was reorganized in 1931, it was his son, Albert Cyril 'Bert' Hathaway (b.1904), who took up the musical mantle. Bert continued in this role for the following three decades, and in 1961 his son All first played along with his father. This instrumental combination of fiddle and piano accordion continued for the following quarter century, although Alf increasingly played solo as Bert grew older, especially when performing at a distance from home.

When I began documenting the Campden morris tradition in earnest in 1981, I quickly grew to appreciate AlPs openness and no-nonsense, plain Midlander way of speaking. He gave freely of his memories of playing for the morris dancers, and it was apparent from the start that he possessed well-defined and cogent ideas about the music and its role as a conduit for kinetic performance. He told me on more than one occasion that he did not think the melodeon, with its more rhythmic emphasis, was ideally suited to the Campden style of dancing. …

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