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Alick Sparkes (1869-1952)


Alick Sparks was born in 1869 and married Betsey Snelling, both families coming from the same small hamlet of Hightown Green outside the village of Rattlesden in southwest Suffolk. Family tradition had it that Alick bought the dulcimer in Oldham in Lancashire, when he went to bring Betsey back from service when they were to be married. The 1891 census does indeed show Betsey in Oldham, working as a domestic servant to a machine-maker. Alick was in Suffolk at that point, and eighteen months later they married in Suffolk. By 1911 Alick was farm bailiff at Hollybush Farm, where there was an absentee landlord.

Alick’s grandson, Denis, said that Alick had been inspired by hearing a dulcimer player locally, one of the Bendall family from Hightown Green. Alick used to play in the Half Moon pub in Rattlesden, at family parties at Hollybush Farm and other social functions in the surrounding area. Many of the extended family were musical, most playing accordion (melodeon). Denis recalled his grandfather as a confident player, using both hands, with a repertoire of dance tunes such as polkas and waltzes, schottisches and hornpipes.

Alick died in 1952.


Alick Sparks' dulcimer which was passed down to Tommy Sparks

     a       b












Click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture


Photo descriptions & sources

main photo: Alick & Betsey Sparks (seated) Unknown & Tommy Sparks (standing), Holly Bush Farm, Rattlesden (courtesy Mr Northeast)

a. Alick Sparks' dulcimer front  (John Howson)

b. Alick Sparks' dulcimer back (JH)



c. Alick Sparks' dulcimer bridges (JH)

d. Alick Sparks' dulcimer bridges (JH)

e. Alick Sparks' dulcimer bridges (JH)




f.  Alick Sparks' dulcimer stand (JH)

g.  Alick Sparks' dulcimer profile (JH)

h. Alick Sparks' dulcimer cover (JH)


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