BEVERLEY RACES. English, Hornpipe. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABBCC. Beverley (east Yorkshire) is an Old English name meaning 'the clearing of the beavers' (Matthews, 1972). Racing in Beverley has been held since the 17th century at Westwood. Races were particularly fashionable in the second half of the 18th century, after they had moved to a new course on Hurn (where a new grandstand was built in 1768) and the dates of the running changed from September to Whitsun. A Gold Cup race had been established in 1770. In 1771 a young gentleman merchant from Hull, Yorkshire, one R.C. Broadley, spent five days at Beverley and recorded the aspects of upper-class social life in the race's heyday. As might be expected, the social season in the region revolved around the races. Cockfights were held twice a day during race week in the numerous cockpits in the town (they were suppressed by 1829). There were several Assembly rooms for elegant dancing in several sites, especially at Beverley (since 1732) and at Norwood in 1763. In addition, a ball was given by the officers of the East Riding militia. All-in-all, twelve regular assemblies for dancing and cards were held on alternate Wednesdays beginning in late September, and there was a full week of social gatherings during the races. Typical is the remark of John Courtney, who wrote in 1764: "Beverley races end. I was three days upon the stand in the race ground, and danced every night at the assembly." However, by the mid-1830's the climate of the town began to change, as middle class and professionals supplanted the gentry. The lurid entertainments of cock fighting and bull baiting had been suppressed, and the theatres and races had lost popularity and the assemblies declined. (from "Beverly, 1700-1835: Social Life and Conditions", A History of the County of York, East Riding, vol. 6, 1989).
Printed source: Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 195.
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