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James Caston (1783-1863)


A dulcimer was bought at Gaze’s sale in Diss in 2007 by John Howson. Its case was in a poor condition and riddled with woodworm, but the actual dulcimer was sound and unusually had a full set of bridges. In the initial stages of restoration the words “J. Caston, Forncett, Norfolk” were found written in pencil on back of the dulcimer's stand. When the moth-eaten paper was stripped off the back, the same signature and location was found again, written in pencil.




The maker has now been identified as James Caston, carpenter, born 1783 – meaning this could be a fairly early instrument, most likely to have been made between 1820 and 1860.


1851 census showing James Caston, aged 68, in Forncett St Peter


James Caston lived all his life in the village of Forncett St Peter, a couple of miles west of the main Norwich-Ipswich road, in south Norfolk. In 1810 he married Sarah King and in 1811 his first son Charles was born, who later followed in the family trade. Charles moved away to Tacolneston for a while, but came back to the family business in Forncett when his father retired in the 1850s. Charles’ son James also became a carpenter, and worked in the family business for a short period around 1860, but soon established his own concern in Spooner Row, with his wife running a general store alongside his carpenter's and wheelwright’s shop. James senior died on 2nd June 1863 in Forncett.


The dulcimer has now been dismantled ready for complete restoration. Each part is being photographed and scale drawings are being made. They will be available here as soon as the work is completed.


 A dulcimer made by James Caston


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Photo descriptions & sources

James Caston dulcimer photos to be added after restoration.



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