Lady Walpole Reel (1)

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X:1 T:Lady Walpole's Reel [1] M:2/4 L:1/8 R:Reel S:White's Unique Collection (1896), No. 175 Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:Bb |: F |.B.d d/e/c/d/ | BFF (F/E/) | D/F/B/F/ E/D/E/G/ | F/G/F/E/ .D.B, | (B/F/)(d/B/) (f/d/)(g/f/) | .b/.a/.g/.f/ .e/.d/.c/.B/ | A/c/f/c/ B/A/B/d/ | c/B/A/G/ F :| |: f | f/b/f/d/ B/d/B/F/ | E/D/E/F/ G/F/E/D/ | .C(g/f/) e/d/c/B/ | A/B/c/A/ F (3f/g/a/ | b/f/d/f/ g/e/c/e/ | d/f/B/d/ (c/A/).F | f/g/f/e/ d/c/B/A/ | B[DB][DB] :|



LADY WALPOLE'S REEL [1]. AKA and see "Boston Fancy (1)," "Ladies' Walpole Reel," "Massai's Favorite." Scottish, American; Reel. USA; New England. B Flat Major (Howe, Phillips): G Major (Sweet). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. "Lady Walpole's Reel" is the name of a tune and a country dance, known also as "Boston Fancy." Linscott (Folk Music of Old New England, 1939) says that it is "evidently a variety of Weavers' Dance belonging to the craftsmen of the Weavers' Guild," although he does not give any evidence to sustain or further explain his claim. Tony Parkes and Steve Woodruff (1980) note that it is one of the few dance melodies composed without a single repeated measure, and the dance itself was one of the first contras in which active couples crossed in the beginning, leading to the intermingling of sexes through the dance. Curiously, in the course of the dance one swings every other person in the set except one's partner (who only gets a courtesy turn in the 'ladies chain' figure). Lore has it that this is because Lady Walpole hated to dance with her husband! It has been suggested (by, for one, Louie W. Attebery in his article "The Fiddle Tune: An American Artifact" {1979}) that the name change from "Lady Walpole's Reel" to "Boston Fancy" came about due to anti-British sentiments during the War of 1812. The melody was apparently once quite popular, for it appears in White's Unique Collection included in a page of reels labelled "Six Favorite Reels," in the company of such still-familiar tunes as "Miss McLeod's Reel," "Arkansas Traveller," "Devil's Dream (1)," "Old Zip Coon" and "Ned Kendall's Favorite." Nineteenth century Boston music publisher Elias Howe printed instructions for a contra-dance to the tune.

New Hampshire dance caller and musician Ralph Page, credited with almost single-handedly reviving New England contra dancing in the mid-20th century (along with Dudley Laufman and a few others), said this of the dance in his periodical Northern Junket:

Many times the head couple chose the contra they wanted to dance, and very often it would be "Lady Walpole's Reel". It was a great favorite with us. At public dances it often started off the evening's program and, believe it or not, would be danced two or three times more during the evening. Over in Antrim (N.H.) and Bennington (Vt.), twenty miles to the east, the same dance was known as "Lady Washington's Reel". We sometimes called it facetiously "The Married Man's favorite," because, since it frequently led off the evening's dancing, you were supposed to have the first dance with your wife, and in the dance the only time you came close to her was when you went "down the center and back"!

Boston publisher Elias Howe printed the dance in 1862 in his American Dancing Master, and Ball-Room Prompter: Containing about Five Hundred Dances; Including all the Latest and Most Fashionable, a volume in which he was "assisted by several eminent professors of dancing."

It is not known which Lady Walpole to whom the title might refer, if indeed, any particular person of that name. However, one, Dorothy Walpole (1686-1726), the sister of Robert Walpole who became Prime Minister of England in 1722, has a sad and poignant tale to tell. Dorothy fell in love with a man named Charles Townsend, Second Viscount Townsend, whom she longed to marry. Unfortunately her father forbade the union, and eventually Townsend married another, sending Dorothy into a depression and an affair with a broke and profligate Lord Wharton. Presently, in 1711, Townsend's first wife died (of unknown causes), and he and Dorothy resumed their relationship, marrying two years later. All seemed to be well until Townsend discovered that Dorothy had not severed her relationship with Wharton after the wedding, but had continued her affair. Furious, he locked her in her apartments in Raynham Hall, isolated from her family, her children and the outside world. She was still a prisoner when she died in 1726, at the age of 40, of smallpox (although some say she died of a broken heart, or even from a broken neck from a staircase 'accident'). As tragic and distasteful as the story is, however, it probably would have been forgotten save for subsequent events. In the 19th century Raynham Hall was still in Townsend hands when apparitions began to appear to a number of distinguished visitors, among them King George IV, who reported having seen a ghostly apparition in a brown satin dress, who stared down at him while he was a-bed. Soon after, a Colonel Loftus saw the same apparition, with the added detail that the woman's eyes sockets were empty. Finally, a decade or so later author Captain Frederick Marryat was invited to stay at the Hall. He patiently waited for several days until he was rewarded with her apparition as he strolled down a hallway. Alarmed by a somewhat sinister grin on the face of the ghost, he fired a pistol at her, and when he had recovered from the shock, she had disappeared. The Brown Lady of Raynham, as the ghost came to be called, was still occasionally seen by visitors well into the 20th century.


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Rodney Miller (N.H.) [Phillips].

Printed sources : - Howe (1000 Jigs and Reels), c. 1867; p. 80 (appears as "Massai's Favorite, or Lady Walpole's Reel"). Linscott (Folk Songs of Old New England), 1939; p. 71. Miller & Perron (New England Fiddler's Repertoire), 1983; No. 110. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 1), 1994; p. 136. Ryan's Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 50. Sweet (Fifer's Delight), 1965/1981; p. 81. Tolman (Nelson Music Collection), 1969; p. 8. White's Unique Collection, 1896; No. 175, p. 32.

Recorded sources : - Alcazar Dance Series FR 203, Rodney Miller - "New England Chestnuts" (1980). Front Hall Records FHR 029, "Fourgone Conclusions." New World Records 80239, Newt Tolman & Kay Gilbert - "Brave Boys: New England Traditions in Folk Music" (Various artists. Tolman was recorded in 1977). Rounder 7004, Joe Cormier - "The Dances Down Home."

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]



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