(Spoken foreword by Prof Ronald Hutton)
2. Loyal Men of England
3. The Good Old Cause (William Sydenham’s song)
6. Doctors Account (Voice of Dr Richard Wiseman read by Prof Ronald Hutton)
7. Lord Goring's March
8. The Battle
9. Lost Years (A fatally wounded soldiers reflection)
10. The Cold Waters of Weymouth Quay
(The tale of the demise of some 250 Irish mercenaries drowned in the "hole" of Weymouth Quy)
11. Welcome to the 'Danse Macabre
(Nothe Fort Hangings of traitors and conspirators)
12. Follow the Drum (A drinking song)
13. The World Turned Upside Down
(A common phrase known in the day)
14. King Saviour
15. England's Freedom, Soldier's Rights
(The voice of the Levellers)
16. New World (Final Narration by Prof Ronald Hutton)
17. Pax Quaeritur Bello (Reprise)
The History of Crabchurch
In 1645, several royalist plotters within the twin towns of Weymouth and Melcombe on the Dorset coast conspired to deliver the ports back into the control of King Charles 1. It has been suggested that he needed a safe south coast port at which to land a huge French army which he hoped would deliver a decisive blow and end the resistance of the Parliamentarians whom he had been fighting for almost three years.
The conspirator’s plans were almost successful, but their intended victim, Colonel William Sydenham, Commander of the Parliamentary garrison and MP for Melcombe, managed to get most of his force into that town, though he lost a much loved and respected brother and fellow soldier, Francis, in the initial assault. Soon, a two week long internecine bombardment was taking place between the factions.
In the third week, what appeared to be the coup de gras arrived in the shape of the archetypal cavalier general, George, Lord Goring and his 6,500 strong army, which meant that Sydenham’s tiny but stubborn garrison of just 1300 souls, were now outnumbered six to one. It would surely only be a matter of time before Melcombe too fell to the King’s Army.
Underestimating Colonel William Sydenham, the eldest son of a local Dorset landowner, was Goring’s first and biggest mistake, for not only did Sydenham succeed in retaking Weymouth, but he also withstood the full might of Goring’s military response, delivering a “miraculous victory” and ending the King’s aspirations of getting the upper hand in Dorset.
Reviews & Comments
"This is a spectacular subject for a musical album, and one rarely treated in that
form. The Dolmen make the result work really well, alternating bulletins of real history with the kind of electric folk, from high-energy dance to lament, which the band has always played to perfection. I felt both entertained and moved: it seemed at times as though a real voice was being given to the dead".
Ronald Hutton, Professor of History,Head of Subjects University of Bristol.
(Leading authority on the history of the British Isles in the 16th & 17th century)
"The Crabchurch Conspiracy by The Dolmen presents a foray deep into Civil War country. A wonderful mix of storytelling and song , the album focus moves gracefully between the personal tale and the public knowledge of the period . The jiggery folkery and clever use of spoken word and sound effects combine to draw the listener into a fanastic world of musket smoke and music. At times it manages to sound like it was recorded 'live in 1645.'......This is a CD for musician, historian and campfire beer swillers alike. I hope someone commissions it as TV drama. The pictures it already creates are colourful and dramatic enough to demand this. Well done to all concerned.
An Uncivil Civil War Triumph."
“Crabchurch Conspiracy” Review By Kevin Davis.
A band that have been expanding and honing their sound over the last 16 years, Dorset folk-rockers The Dolmen have moved bravely forward with their new album “Crabchurch Conspiracy”. In fact to call it simply an album is to underplay its ambition and scope, making use as it does of spoken word and dramatic atmospherics as well as music and lyrics. The result is a multi-layered experience, moving the listener between historical documentary and soul-stirring music.
“Crabchurch Conspiracy” takes its name from a book by Dorset author Mark Vine, and retells a vital and fascinating part of the county’s history during the English Civil War. The story of the Roundhead soldiers who defended Melcombe and Weymouth in 1645 is seamlessly woven together by a combination of narration and self-penned songs. What could be fragmented or laboured in less capable hands is instead fluid and continuous, taking the listener on a journey rather than a classroom lecture. Extended instrumental sections employing ‘traditional’ instruments such as fiddle, bodhran and crumhorn enhance this experience further, as do the background atmospherics of soldiers in the field.
Great folk music achieves what much popular music fails to – a genuine identification with human emotion and ideation, whether of individuals or archetypes, as well as the time and place in which they are set. “Crabchurch Conspiracy” successfully meets this challenge, achieving historical accuracy, emotional reflection and idealism instead of dry scholarship, cliché or naivety. This is a testament to the band’s obvious attachment to the subject matter and is exemplified by singer Taloch, whose voice imbues each song with authority and authenticity. The plight of the common man is starkly and sympathetically portrayed, and a voice given to civilians, Royalist soldiers and Irish mercenaries as well as the main subjects. As a result it honestly represents the human condition in all its forms, exposing brutality, frailty and loss as well as bravery and idealism. These themes are reflected in the diversity of songs, ranging from introspective ballads like “Lost Years” to rabble-rousing, tub-thumping anthems such as “Good Old Cause” and “Follow the Drum”. These latter two whisk you away into a world of marching regiments and raised standards, and could easily pass for authentic militia songs of the time.
“Crabchurch Conspiracy” is indeed an ambitious effort, but the Dolmen prove they have the skill, passion and connection to make a success of it. Radical historians will delight in seeing Levellers and Royalist traitors brought to life, musicians will admire the craft behind the songs and lyrics.
In an era where culture and identity are increasingly supplanted by property prices and celebrity, this is a welcome reminder of who we are and where we came from….
"AN ATMOSPHERIC AND AUTHENTIC MUSICAL RECREATION
OF A TURBULENT SIEGE OF THE WESTCOUNTRY".
Steve Knightley. Show of Hands.
"As a lover of our Heritage, and one for good song 'The Crabchuch Conspiracy by The Dolmen' has been a complete joy to listen to. It blends the story of 1645 with The Dolmens lively blend of Celtic rock and sea shanties. Professor Ronald Hutton's narration accompanied by Taloch's vocal, and great production make it a very emotive interpretation of this moment in Dorset's history. The Passion from all involved in this album is clear as it takes you on a journey, that for a true son of Weymouth becomes very personal."
Dave Goulden (Presenter/Dorset's Wessex FM Radio)
"As Comanding Officer of Sydenhams ECWS company the album is also very close to my heart.
Its sheer roller coaster of emotion and power. This is something very special and more than an album. Keith's voice is superb for the telling of such an important story of courage and sacrifice of the Sydenham family and people who lost all in the 17th century.
Best listened too after hanging a do not disturb sign on your door, turn off your phone, put on your head phones and lose yourself in the 17th century. To all who have worked on this album THANK YOU "
Steve Piper, English Civil War Society
This album was never meant to be in the strict musical style of the 17th century or civil war period, but rather an album of songs wholly inspired by that time and in particular, by the incredible events surrounding an episode in Dorset’s Civil War history known as The Crabchurch Conspiracy. The songs pay respect to the characters connected with the Crabchurch Conspiracy, but from a modern perspective.
The songs on this album commemorate the bravery and tenacity of the Sydenham brothers and their staunch men and also recall some of the grisly events that occurred during the month long engagement and the final Battle of Weymouth.
It cannot be hoped to deliver a full account of the complicated and protracted events of the Crabchurch Conspiracy on this CD, but hopefully, The Dolmen conjure a flavour of the times and in their own way, pay homage to the brave souls of both sides who fought for what they believed in and, in many cases, paid the ultimate price.
We appreciate greatly the time, effort and expertise given by Professor Ronald Hutton in recording this wonderful foreword and also for the reading of the splendid and moving piece in the harrowing ‘Doctors Account’.
The Doctors Account was probably one of the most challenging pieces due to the nature of its content, being, like the rest of the album, an entirely true story. Recorded in his diary by Doctor Richard Wiseman, a royalist surgeon at the siege of Melcombe, we feel it displays in sickening detail the horrendous conditions under which men fought and died during this most destructive of conflicts.
Prof Hutton plays to perfection the character of Dr Wiseman and in doing so produces a haunting atmosphere that sends a chill through the spine, leaving the echo of his voice and the account, firmly rooted in ones memory for all time.
Special Thanks Ronald from Taloch, Mark and all of us at The Dolmen.
Artwork & Cover Design by the painter, Sem Vine.
This is the third Dolmen album cover to date by this artist and they are all truly unique and fantastic. What a talent to be able to emotionally relate, conjure and enchant with such awesome visuals.
Semi is an artistic inspiration, authentic and unique
Many Many Thanks for blessing us with your artwork Semi.
Thanks To All The Dolmen x x x