Ian Churchward’s book, Songs About Richard III.
And now for something different! A newly revised edition of Ian Churchward’s book, Songs About Richard III has now been published. The book is an interesting narrative of how Ian’s song writing gradually morphed into what it is today – a unique blend of folk music and historical story telling with a distinct medieval feel. Ian first formed a band in the early 80s by the name of Chapter 29. As time passed Chapter 29 would disband and Ian joined a band by the name of the Morrisons eventually forming a new band called Just a Shadow, leading to him meeting his future wife Elaine. Just a Shadow would also eventually disband and Ian became immersed in marriage and fatherhood. However in the late 1990s Ian began playing guitar for a ceilidh band based in Exeter. Ian’s musical career was moving into a different direction – that of English folk music. Ian’s time in the ceilidh band would play an influential role in his future songwriting and the beginning of the introduction of historical themes into his song writing. Another major influence from about that time was an album borrowed from a friend called The Bones of All Men consisting of ‘medieval and Tudor sounding instrumentals with catchy tunes, played with a mixture of modern and older traditional instruments’. In his book Ian describes ‘being in heaven‘ while listening to it and instinctively wanting to hear more from that musical genre – not such an easy thing to track down in those days prior to the internet. Ian was hooked and thus became inspired to write his own instrumentals with historical themes. It was around this time too that Ian decided on the name The Legendary Ten Seconds. The source of this name is amusingly told in the book which was not, as he further explains, related to ‘my attention span during a conversation‘. One of his earliest attempts was ‘The Field of Cloth of Gold’, because I read in a history book by Roy Strong about the real Field of Cloth of Gold of June 1520, during the reign of Henry VIII. Was Ian going over to the dark side? Fortunately for us all, fate would take a hand. Ian takes up the story :
‘A few days later I was in my basement and had just started to play the guitar when my wife called down to me from our kitchen. “Ian, there’s a programme on TV about Richard III. Do you want to come up and watch it?” Well, to be honest, I wasn’t sure that I did want to watch it because I was enjoying strumming my guitar and I don’t watch much TV. However I am interested in history, so—thank the heavens above—I put my guitar down and went upstairs, imagining I’d watch for a few minutes and then go back to the guitar. Instead, I sat down to watch the most amazing documentary I had ever seen, and within a few minutes any thought of going back to my guitar was abandoned until the programme had finished.’
It’s fair to say this was a lightbulb moment for Ian who was enthralled by the contents of the documentary which covered Philippa Langley’s search for the remains of Richard III and his eventual discovery in the Leicester car park which covered the area where the church of the Franciscan Grey Friars had once stood in 1485. As he watched the documentary unfold Ian shared Philippa’s shock when the remains were described by the accompanying archaeologist as being those of someone who was a ‘hunchback‘ and sharing her relief when it was later explained that the remains were not of someone who had suffered from the condition known as kyphosis, commonly known as a hunched back, but rather scoliosis which is a sideways curvature of the spine. Since then Ian, Devonshire born, has become a member of Philippa Langley’s Missing Princes Project team in Devon and describes in his book his visits to Coldridge Church where as the theory goes, Edward V may have been secreted away and lived incognito under the name of John Evans. I love Ian’s no nonsense approach to history – such as his comment ‘The reason (for the theory) must surely be linked to the fact that one of the sons from the first marriage of the Queen of Edward IV owned the deer park and manor in Coldridge….’ a fact which although glaringly obvious to many has been studiously ignored by the detractors of the theory.
The lyrics of the many songs written by Ian are included in the book as well as the background story as to what had inspired him to write each song. The songs have been compiled into various CD’s including Loyaulté Me Lie, Richard III , Tant le Desiree, Sunnes and Roses, Murrey and Blue, Richard III and Instrumental Legends: Inspired by the Life and Times of Richard III well as several singles each with their own fabulous artwork.
The CD cover of Tant le Desiree. Artist Graham Moores
The various adventures of Ian, the bands and fellow band members, including amongst others the interestingly named Lord Zarquon aka Mike Peakman are entertainingly covered leading up to the time Ian became hooked on the story of Richard III and the Wars of the Roses and I can throughly recommend it. Little snippets are included about the many interesting characters that Ian has come across during his musical journey including a gentleman who earned the nickname ‘Do-it- for-a-Fiver’. Ian has managed to breach the gap between history and folk music exceedingly well.
Ian Churchward, writer of songs and his story as told in ‘Songs About Richard III’.
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