Century-old songbook from St Mary's Church in Portsmouth is being reprinted after being discovered in archives

A recently discovered century-old songbook is being reprinted and shared as part of a campaign to restore an historic Portsmouth church organ.

Sunday, 22nd August 2021, 12:55 pm
Updated Sunday, 22nd August 2021, 2:25 pm
The booklet Love Songs and Lullabies and St Mary's Church Organ

The Love Songs and Lullabies of St Mary’s Company, Portsea Parish, was originally published in September 1919 as a fundraiser for The St Mary’s Company, by the curate Tubby Clayton.

The company was the young men’s club of the parish. and it is thought that many of its members would have enlisted to fight in the Great War. The front page of the booklet says it is ‘dedicated to that band of brothers called Company Brown’.

It had been presumed lost for several years, but was discovered by Keith Roberts, who was going through some of the Portsea Parish’s archives.

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Mr Roberts is also a volunteer for The Organ Project, which is restoring the nationally-important JW Walker and Sons pipe organ. The project was given a £764,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund last spring.

Now, The Organ Project is reprinting and sharing 300 copies of the 24-page The Love Songs and Lullabies booklet as a way of preserving the parish’s heritage.

Since the booklet was found, Mr Roberts has been working to identify the men identified in the ‘Roll of Sacrifice’, which lists those who served and died during the First World War, on the final page of the booklet, in an effort to cast further light on the parish’s history.

The Love Songs and Lullabies of St Mary’s Company, Portsea Parish

The next stage is to try to find photographs of the men involved, and so The Organ Project is appealing for any relatives of the men named to add to our research.

Along with the songbook, Mr Roberts also found two previously unknown photographs of a gathering of the St Mary’s Company in May 1914. For more information about Keith’s research, visit: https://theorganproject.org/love-songs-and-lullabies-songbook

A picture of the St Mary's Company at St Mary's Church in Fratton, Portsmouth, taken in 1914 by Southsea photographer Stephen Cribb
The Organ Project is reprinting and sharing 300 copies of The Love Songs and Lullabies of St Mary’s Company, Portsea Parish, a 24-page songbook from 1919