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From 01/01/2022 until 01/05/2022. 18:30 till 20:00

Online Event via ZOOM

Beckley and Area Community Benefit Society ‘even More than a Pub’ programme, 2021 presents

'A Dorset Year: the poetry and prose of William Barnes and Thomas Hardy'

presented by members and friends of the William Barnes Society, the Thomas Hardy Society, Oxford's Stanza 2 poetry group and local contributors. 

Poets of the Victorian era, Barnes and Hardy wrote about rural Dorset and wider subjects in very different styles. Hardy's work is better known, but Barnes championed the local dialect. His dialect verse is both evocative of rural life and a legacy of expressions and words that otherwise might have been lost forever. Taking us through the seasons readers and musicians will perform poems and prose by Hardy and Barnes, including Barnes' well-known 'Linden Lea'. Local Oxfordshire poets will read their own poems, inspired by Barnes, Hardy and the seasons. 

The event, which was held on Sunday 10th January 2021, was recorded and is available below

This meeting is arranged under the aegis of the Beckley & Area Community Benefit Society (BACBS) in Oxfordshire, which was established in 2016 to purchase Beckley’s village pub, The Abingdon Arms, for the community. Before Covid, BACBS held literary talks and poetry readings in The Abingdon Arms. Since March meetings have been held by Zoom, which has opened up the powerful advantage of involving participants (speakers, poets and audience) from further afield.

Further information at Beckley & Area Community Benefit Society



Sunday 10th January 2021, 6.30 - 7.45pm, by Zoom

Presented by members and friends of the William Barnes Society and the Thomas Hardy Society, Oxford’s Stanza 2 Poetry Group, and contributors in Dorset and Oxfordshire.


Barnes and Hardy shared a love of the Dorset countryside, as reflected in these seasonal offerings, beginning with the joyful prospect of Spring……


  • ‘The Spring’ (Barnes) - read by Sue Lofthouse
  • Joseph Poorgrass and the Owl (Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd) - read by Devina Symes, Tim Laycock and Rod Drew
  • Oxfordshire reading: ‘By Contrasts’ (Caroline Jackson-Houlston)
  • ‘The Girt Woak Tree that’s in the Dell’ (Barnes) - read by Brian Caddy
  • Song: ‘Blackmwore Maidens’ (Barnes) - music composed and sung by John Blackmore


  • ‘Zummer Evenen Dance’ (Barnes) - read by Devina Symes
  • Oxfordshire reading: ‘Tess on the M3’ (Carl Tomlinson)
  • ‘I got two Vields’ (Barnes) - read by Brian Caddy
  • ‘Afterwards’ (Hardy) - read by Sue Lofthouse
  • Song: ‘The Sheepshearing Song’ (Hammond Brothers, 1906; appears in chapter 1 of Hardy’s Under the Greenwood Tree) - performed by Tim Laycock
  • Domicilium (Hardy) - read by Rod Drew and Joy Parsons

A Brief Pause: Comments, reflections, questions from the audience.


  • Description of Egdon Heath in Return of the Native (Hardy) - read by Rod Drew
  • Oxfordshire reading: ‘Fieldwork’ (Bill Jenkinson)
  • ‘The Slanten Light of Fall’ (Barnes) - read by Joy Parsons
  • Song: ‘The Geate a-Vallen To’ (Barnes) - music composed and sung by John Blackmore
  • ‘Shortening Days at the Homestead’ (Hardy) - read by Sue Lofthouse


  • Song: ‘Here we come a-Wassailing’ (Traditional) - music by Tim Laycock
  • ‘The Vrost’ (Barnes) - read by Devina Symes
  • Oxfordshire reading: ‘Seasons and Times’ (Barnes) – read by Mary Stuck
  • ‘Settle an’ the Girt Wood Vire’ (Barnes) - read by Rod Drew
    ‘The Oxen’ (Hardy) - read by Sue Lofthouse


We conclude as all Barnes Society events are concluded …….

  • Song: ‘Linden Lea’ (Barnes) - music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, sung by John Blackmore

Texts of the William Barnes dialect poems featured in this programme are available at 

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