Back to Knutsford Races
KNUTSFORD RACES. AKA and see "Glenfiddich Strathspey." English, Reel. England, North-West. A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABBCCDD. Knutsford Races took place on Knutsford Heath, Cheshire, a horse-racing ground for some 200 years, until 1873. It was thought the races did not begin until the 1720's, however, Sir Thomas Mainwaring wrote in his diary for June 22nd, 1679:
At Knutsford Heath my cousin Mainwaring of Kermincham beat my cousin Marbury and won the plate with his horse.
The Knutsford Races were still going strong in 1819, when the Macclesfield Courier reported:
The races were very numerously and fashionable attended; among the company observed were The Earl of Stamford, The Earl ofWilton, Lord Grey, Sir John Leicester, Sir Thomas Stanley, Sir Harry Mainwaring (most of these gentlemen had horses in the races)...from the respectable manner in which the meeting is supported it is expected to become the most fashionable in the kingdom.
The same paper noted in 1832 that the races had also attracted less desirable elements: "The number of gamblers, swindlers and pickpockets at the late Knutsford Races amounted, it is said, to about 1,000."
The melody is not English, however, nor a reel. It was composed by Scots fiddler-composer William Marshall as a strathspey entitled "Glenfiddich Strathspey," and appeared in his 1781 collection.
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Preston's Twenty Four Country Dances for the Year 1798 (London). Knowles (Northern Frisk), 1988; No. 8.