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Stanley (1888-1962) & Samuel (1859-1941) Shemmings



Mr. S. Shemmings was mentioned in correspondence between Russell Wortley and Peter Havard of Ipswich. Havard, who was a dulcimer enthusiast, knew Mr Shemmings and was trying to arrange a meeting with Russell Wortley, but unfortunately Mr Shemmings fell ill and died before this could happen.

The player was Stanley Shemmings who lived in Ipswich. His family moved there in the 1880s to a close-knit community called the Grove, where housing had been built for workers at a brick manufacturer’s. Although not far out of the town centre, the area was quite insular, as it was largely cut off by a short railway line that had been built to transport the bricks. Stanley himself did not go into the brickworks: by 1911 he had already signed up to the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, and despite the Herring’s stating that he was a bandsman, he is listed as a rifleman, not a musician. Stanley’s regiment were in northern France from August 1914 until demobilisation in January 1919, and he was luckier than his younger brother Bertram who was killed in action in 1915.

According to Des and Shelagh Herring, Stan Shemmings made instruments, and they later talked about ‘Ipswich-made’ dulcimers, but Peter Havard described the instrument as ‘a Dallas instrument made in London we believe, about 50 years ago’ (i.e. about 1910).

Peter Havard had a tuning diagram which had been Stanley’s father’s method (Samuel Shemmings)

Some of Russell Wortley’s correspondence mentions a Mr S. Shemming(s) from Ipswich, and whilst most of it was about Stanley Shemmings, there also turned out to be a tuning diagram from Stanley’s father, Samuel

Samuel was brought up in Hoxne, on the Suffolk/Norfolk border, then moved to Scole where he worked as brickmaker, a trade which took him in the mid 1880s to Ipswich.

The brickworks company had a popular social club with a works band which played at many local events: it’s quite possible that Samuel was involved in this.



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