August News

At a recent meeting, it was decided that the Arts Centre will remain closed and a second meeting will be held in September to review the situation.

Garstang Ukulele Group

Eleonore Browne, a Saint and a ukulele player

As readers of the Focus will already be aware, the first ukuleles were crafted in the early 17th Century by a luthier from Abbeystead for the midgets of Catterall. Although there were many lute players in Dolphinholme, Garstang and Cabus, the arms of the inhabitants of Catterall were too short to stretch around these fat-bodied instruments. Josiah Browne was an enterprising and talented craftsman who realised that there was an untapped wealth in Catterall, and so he came up with the idea of a smaller four-stringed instrument which he initially called a lutette. Only later when it was taken to Hawaii via Portugal and Madeira did it become known as a ukulele.

However, what is less well known is that Josiah’s younger sister was a talented dancer and harpist who invented the eight-stringed lutette. Eleonore went from one village to the next playing her harp while twirling her skirts in the busy markets. Critics of the day praised her harp playing, but they said that this large instrument made her dancing clumsy. While Eleonore was attracted to the size of her brother’s lutette, it was too quiet for a busy market. She came up with the idea of replacing each of its four strings with a pair of strings, some an octave apart. She persuaded her brother to make this for her and soon she was top of the popular entertainment gossip. People travelled from Lancaster, Pilling and Preston just to see her dancing with her new instrument.

However, like many innovative artists Eleonore was destined to die young. She was only 26 years old when the Puritans who were celebrating the death of the Pendle witches turned their attention to Eleonore. Her music was too sweet and her dancing too tantalising for their vision of hell on earth, so they branded her appeal as witchcraft. Eleonore was hanged at Lancaster on 8th August 1620, but ukulele players throughout the world will remember her and dance while they play on this 400th anniversary of her martyrdom.

Bob Sapey

Garstang Musical Productions

Garstang musical productions have moved our rehearsals online. We are using zoom to plan, prepare and rehearse for exciting new community events and performances for the future. Until then, please like our Garstang musical productions Facebook page and thank you for all your continued support.

Rachel Sudell

Judy Osborne  –  600996