Chester Castle (1)

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CHESTER CASTLE [1]. AKA and see "Grant's Rant (2)," "New Hornpipe, "Recruit (The)." English, Reel; Scottish, Scots Measure. England, North-West. G Major (Hardings): D Major (Aird): F Major (McGlashan). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The name Chester (Cheshire) is an Anglo-Saxon form (ceaster) of the roman word castra, or camp. The Romans founded a fortress at Chester, called Deva, home to the XXth Legion. It later was a Saxon stronghold and the last major town to fall to the Normans, in 1071. The castle itself was originally a motte type built by William the Conqueror soon after. It was improved over the years, but finally was largely replaced between 1788 and 1822 with neo-Classical buildings by Thomas Harrison. Charles I sought refuge in the city during the English Civil War, and from the city wall saw his troops defeated at the battle of Rowton.

The melody appears in Cumbrian musician John Rook's 1840 music manuscript collection. It also was entered into a few period musicians' manuscript copy books in the United States, including those of Silas Dickinson (1800, Amherst, Mass.) and William Patten (c. 1800?, Phila.?), while dance instructions for "Chester Castle" appear in several American manuscripts and publications dating to the end of the 18th century. The melody had fairly wide currency in the late 18th century -- see "Grant's Rant (2)," "Recruit (The)" and "New Hornpipe" for more.

Printed sources: Aird (Selections of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs), vol. II, 1785; No. 19, p. 7. Hardings All Round Collection, 1905; No. 76, p. 23. Knowles (Northern Frisk), 1988; No. 11. McGlashan (Collection of Scots Measures), c. 1780; p. 18. Stewart (A Select Collection of Scots English Irish and Foreign Airs Jiggs & Marches), 1788; p. 81


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