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
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
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