A Brief History of the Choir

There is written evidence of a long tradition of singing in Cawthorne. The 'Cawthorne Musicians' were a band of amateur singers and instramentalists who in the 18th Century provided the music from the gallery in All Saints Church. Story has it that they were so unruly and uncooperative in their choice of music that, in the words of an early 19th Century local song, 'Parson Phipps would let them sing no more! Following the Musicians, there were a number of groups who sang madrigals and 'glees' in Victorian Cawthorne under the direction of men such as James Balme, the church choirmaster.

It was in response to the war effort of 1914-18 that the first large choir came together in Cannon Hall Park for open air 'sings' of choruses from Handel's 'Messiah' to raise money for Barnsley Beckett Hospital. The enthusiasm and enjoyment generated by these must have remained in the memories of many villagers because on October 19th 1927 a meeting in the Methodist Schoolroom (where we still met until the 10th May 2013) resolved to set up what was first called the Cawthorne Mixed Choir and soon became Cawthorne Choral Society. This society performed at intervals from March 1928 until the outbreak of war in 1939. During the 1930's there was also an additional male voice group in the village

The war years and the post war austerity seem to have sent the Choral Society into a stse of suspended animation, but the influence and enthusiasm of the vicar, Rev. Hugh Meanley (a former Lichfield Cathedral chorister) and the organist and choirmaster, Derek Walton, led to a revival of the 'Village Sing'.
Singing events were organised to mark the Festival of Britain in 1951 and the Coronation in 1953. Performances of Messiah followed and by 1965 the choral society had been resurrected and re-established, first under the West Riding Education Department's evening Institute and then in its self supporting form.