Woolley, Somerset – Thankful Village #24

Woolley sits underneath a flight path, but other than that it’s description matches perfectly of that written by Arthur Mee in 1936. Even the water taps are in place outside the houses.

The strange dome-roofed church has its own walled garden, the gate whistled as we opened it. We shook the blossom from the tree. We saw a villager walk a tiny horse up the hill.

I plucked the nylon strings of ‘Pyewacket’ on the bench and used her back as a drum. The sky threatened but never delivered. I feel we should let Arthur Mee’s words guide us every now and then on these journeys. His lines are musical and easy to drape over music. Woolley, in fact, was the first Thankful Village Mee found.

The tune still lacked a chorus and a few months later a friend bought me a book of Somerset folk songs. ‘Rosebud in June’ was collected by Cecil Sharp from a farmer, William King, of West Hastree, Somerset. Versions of the song can be dated back to the early 18th Century.

One of the ideas of Thankful Villages is to allow randomness to help me create. Arthur Mee and the luck of World War 1 chose where I would go and fate handed me this song. I laid the words and tune of ‘Rosebud’ over the chords of my half finished chorus and in between Arthur’s words.

Everything seemed to be where it was supposed to be.

Photographs by Imogen Griffiths