Stanton, Mrs Mary L


Collection date: Sept 1909

Area: Warwickshire

Mrs Mary Stanton (1862-1938) acted as an important intermediary for Sharp. She lived in the village of Armscote within the parish of Tredington. This was within Worcestershire until 1931 but is now part of Warwickshire. For her census details ensure to type in Worcestershire!

She was born in January qr 1862 and was baptised ‘Mary Lillias Hill’ at Burmington church on 2/3/1862. Burmington is 2 miles S of Shipston-on-Stour. She was the third of 10 children of Rev Nicholas Hill and his wife Lillias. Rev Hill was moved to Crosby in Cumbria (1871 census) then to Cheltenham, where Mary married William Lawrence Stanton on 21/4/1885 (Christ Church). In 1891 William Stanton was a farm manager at Kemble 4 miles S of Cirencester (was in Wiltshire, now in Glos). William then became an estate agent, moving to Blockley, 3 miles NW of Moreton-in-the Marsh (was Worcs, now Glos) - 1901 census ref RG13/2945 f123 p15. Mary had 2 children by then – William b1888 and Beatrice b1890 – as well as 2 servants. In 1911 the family had hopped county borders again, arriving in Armscote (was Worcs, now Warwicks).

Mary Stanton probably met Sharp at the Stratford-upon-Avon Shakespeare Festival, held annually to celebrate the bard’s birthday (April 1564). Folk song and folk dance elements were part of the Stratford programme from April 1907. The first mention of her by Sharp was for the 7 country dances he collected at her house during a convivial evening on 16 Sept 1909. Further correspondence with Mrs Stanton is dated Jan 1910, when Sharp thanks Mrs Stanton for procuring for him an antique morris shirt from Jonathan Gaydon (Geadon), former fool for Blackwell morris side. Blackwell is 1 mile S of Armscote. See FDN1/106 and 1/122.

Flushed with this success, Mrs Stanton hosted Sharp on several occasions and sent various songs to him. He was able to meet over 30 performers in the area, notably Sam Bennett of the Ilmington morris and Mrs Ellen Plumb of Armscote who gave Sharp a version of ‘The Cherry Tree’ carol as well as the interesting ‘King Herod and the Cock’ (both published in his ‘English Folk-Carols’ book in 1911).

Mary Stanton knew Sharp so well that she was approached by Maud Karpeles to contribute to the 1933 biography of Sharp. She died on 4/6/1938 at Bishops Castle in Shropshire.

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