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Charlie ‘Wag’ (1884-1974) & Bertie (1888-1963) Seaman


Keith Summers interviewed the Seaman family of Darsham, east Suffolk and his findings were published in an article in ‘Traditional Music’ No.4 – Mid 1976 and in a double issue supplement to that magazine - No.8 & 9 – Late 1977 /Early 1978 under the title ‘Sing, Say or Pay!'.

The Seaman brothers, particularly Ernie (1898-1963) and Charlie were known for their melodeon playing but during the interviews it was apparent that they also had a dulcimer which was played by Charlie and younger brother Bertie.

Below are transcripts of Keith’s interviews:

‘Those Seamans - Ernie and Charlie and the rest of them - they could play anything you wanted. Old Charlie would play accordeon then set it down and pick up a tin whistle, then his dulcimer - anything.’ (Tom Goddard)

‘My father Charlie Seaman had four brothers and three sisters and all of them except one sister could play an instrument. Dad played accordeon and dulcimer, Ernie played accordeon, Stanley played a wooden flute, Jack played concertina and accordeon but he died young, and Bertie played dulcimer and a bit on the violin. Yet it's funny, I don't know where they picked it up from.’ (Fred Seaman)

‘Dad and Uncle Stan married two sisters and lived at Sibton Green a while before moving to Darsham. I remember when we were kids Dad'd come back from the pub and get his dulcimer out and play - we used to have to sit as quiet as mice. Then mother would take us up to bed and take the oil lamp out and leave him playing in the dark, and he’d put a silk cloth over the strings to muffle the sound. He’d play for hours in the dark - 'Queen Mary's Waltz', 'Jack the Lad'. He could play with two or four cane sticks at once - three strings on each post.’ (George Seaman)

‘At one time Dad and Ernie would be out most nights playing - Darsham Fox, Stradbroke Arms (Darsham), Sibton White Horse, Yoxford, Peasenhall, Halesworth, Badingham Bowling Green - that's another where he'd stay for a week - "Cooper's Dip" (Railway Hotel, Saxmundham) - and they'd get a little band together sometimes, especially in the Fox. George Bailey, from Sibton, would play the banjo, Tom Thurston, from Darsham, played mouthorgan and Charlie Philpott, a boot repairer from Yoxford, played dulcimer. They all used to go by bike - club up before they went. (Fred Seaman)



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