Tony Clayden reports on a long overdue tribute to
one of the last centurys greatest Light Music Composers
PLAQUE IS UNVEILED IN HONOUR OF HAYDN WOOD
The Lissenden Gardens Estate is situated at the foot of
Highgate West Hill, North London and adjoins Parliament
Hill Fields, which is an extension of Hampstead Heath. In
May, the Lissenden Gardens Community Association held a
celebration of "100 Years of Heritage".
The development comprises 25 blocks of mansion flats in
the famous "Arts & Crafts" style and, over
the years, a number of notable residents (including the
family of John Betjeman) have made their homes there. The
Association has in the past erected several commemorative
plaques. Saturday May 12th saw three more inaugurated,
including one for a certain composer by the name of Haydn
Wood, who lived there with his wife from around 1908-1918.
During this period he wrote his greatest hit Roses
of Picardy to words by Frederick Wetherley.
Earlier in the year, the organisers approached David Ades
to take part in the unveiling ceremony; due to distance
and family commitments he regretfully had to decline and
asked me if I would stand-in, which I was delighted to do,
on behalf of both the Robert Farnon Society and the Light
Music Society. It was particularly appropriate because I
grew up about a mile away in Highgate and attended school
just around the corner from the Estate.
It was fortunate that Carys Blackburn, one of Haydn Woods
great-nieces, was able to be present and after a few words
from myself, she pulled the strings to unveil the plaque.
I was able to be of further assistance, firstly in the
provision of a microphone system (of course!) and also took
part in the Centenary Social and Cultural Event, which was
held after luncheon for invited guests in a nearby school
Tributes were paid to the three dedicatees and once again
it fell to me to give a talk for about 15 minutes on Haydn
Wood. I must acknowledge the help I received in this regard
from Marjorie Cullerne, another of Haydn Woods great-nieces,
who spent a long time during several phone calls from her
home in Canada filling me in all sorts of details about
the composer and his life.
A highlight of the afternoon was the performance of a couple
of Haydn Woods best-loved songs by the Lissenden Centenary
Singers a rendition of Brown Bird Singing
for solo soprano and piano, followed by Roses of Picardy
sung by the ad hoc choir (including myself!) and the
audience, which were led by RFS member Robert Habermann,
who gallantly stepped in at the last minute due to the indisposition
of the original lead singer.
To bring the afternoon to a fitting conclusion, there followed
tea and cakes baked from old style recipes. Other RFS members
attending included Ann Adams and Andre Leon, also Adam Bakker,
the Leader of the Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra.
This article appeared in Journal Into Melody