Our visit to Northampton – full of history and full of joy

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Yesterday morning (Monday 8 October) we left Cardiff for the scenic drive to Northampton. Unfortunately, the air-conditioning broke down in the bus and so we made an unscheduled stop in the little village of Stow-on-Wold. Once fixed we went onto our lunch stop at Banbury, a little market town made famous by the poem – Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross, to see a fine lady upon a white horse; Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes. And she shall have music wherever she goes.

The cross, one of three from the ‘middle-ages’, has long gone, replaced by a mid-19th century memorial to the marriage of Princess Victoria, daughter of Queen Victoria, to Prince Frederic of Prussia. Truth be told, apart from this memorial and the very modern statue of the lady on a horse, I didn’t find anything else to warrant a two-hour lunch stop!

We made our way into Northampton and the Park Inn – our accommodation for the next two nights. Being the first night in a new place, we had a choir dinner and of course, yours truly, along with my good Baritone friend John L, issued fines for misdemeanours committed by fellow choristers. All the money raised will go to charity – so far over 70 pounds!

After rehearsal on Tuesday morning we were led up to the Guild Hall of Northampton for a civic reception by the Mayor and Lady Mayoress. After a brief chat where he seemed eager to leave, we were passed to an aide who gave a very passionate talk about the history of Northampton and the beautiful guildhall. At the 50-minute mark we were still outside the hall examining each carving on the exterior of the 1864 building. I decided enough was enough – raced in for a private view of glorious main hall and then made my own way back to the hotel via the chemist for restocking on the drugs I am using to clear the voice. Many however took the opportunity to visit the leather museum-  Northampton being of course famous for making leather shoes since the 12th century.

In the afternoon we made our way to the Abington United Reformed Church for our 10th concert. We were singing with the Northampton Male Voce Choir. The ladies of the church provided a wonderful afternoon tea and light supper. Their choir had 70 members. The interesting thing about them was an exceptional recruitment drive they did last year which gained the choir 35 new members! We did take notes! After the concert Tom, our MD was full of praise for the concert overall and for our performance – high praise indeed. The afterglow in the local pub was excellent but we were on such a high coming back on the bus that several of us went onto another pub for a few late night/early morning celebratory drinks.

Tomorrow – London here we come.

pub at stow on wold
Nice pub at Stow-on-Wold – the unexpected pit stop due to a broken air-conditioning system in the main coach
memorial cross banbury
Memorial Cross at Banbury
lady on horse banbury
interesting ?
park inn
Park Inn Northampton
All Saints church northampton
Grand city church – All Saint’s Northampton
Mayor presenting choir with picture of Northampton buildings
Mayor looking a little uneasy while presenting choir with lovely print of Guild Hall
beautiful hall
It is a stunning building
beautiful hall 2
Really too big for one photo!
outside the guild hall some of the choir.JPG
Most of the choir outside the front of the hall
guide giving long lecture on building
Our lovely guide giving a very detailed and precise explanation of the carvings and history of the building
back of hall
The back of the main hall – glorious – note the text around the top of the brick work
stunning main hall
vivid art work
text around the outside.JPG
This is the text running around the interior of the hall – Psalm 115, vs 1, 16,17,18. I will allow you to look that up.
church for performance
Our performance venue
church interior
A good space
lovely spread
the hospitality is excellent
every church should be like this
I think every church should be like this
Michelle and Ayse rehearsing
Michelle and Ayse rehearsing before the choirs do their warm-ups
Northampton Male Voice Choir
Northampton Male Voce Choir
us in full swing
Us boys in full swing!
combined choirs
Combined choirs – a great sound ending a great concert! – Next stop – LONDON!

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