Released on 9 November, to coincide with the hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War, Thankful Villages Volume 3 is the final installment of Darren Hayman’s epic study of rural British life. A Thankful Village is one where every soldier returned alive from the Great War. Darren has visited all 54 of these villages and made a sound recording, painting and film in each one. Thankful Villages doesn’t concern itself exclusively with the War, however. It is an exploration of rural communities, including collected stories, interviews, folk songs, soundscapes, field recordings and new original songs. The record takes the form of a fantastical radio show as Darren unearths lost human stories from hidden rural idylls.
Darren shares the video for Wysall . In this Nottinghamshire village, he finds lost cine film of the village shot by two sisters, locally known as the Miss Evans’ and unseen for decades. Julia relates a poignant memory of the closing the village school she went to as a pupil, and how in winter the children warmed themselves around the single stove in the middle of the sole classroom.
The first volume of Thankful Villages revolved around a theme of churches, while the second volume focused on rivers. This third chapter concerns itself with the younger generation. In Hunstanworth, County Durham, Darren records a young girl called Ruby reading a poem written by her grandmother in 1974, on the day of that village’s school closing. The school itself is still signposted by the Giant’s Stride, a Victorian playground apparatus that towers above the village and features on the cover of Thankful Villages Volume 3.
Since the dissolution of his first band, Hefner, Darren Hayman’s work has increasingly explored location and history. Thankful Villages Volume 3 is the beautiful and poignant culmination of this process; tiny, human vignettes plucked from Britain’s blanket of green.
Thankful Villages Volume 3 was completed with generous funding from the Arts Council England. Darren was awarded with the Hardest Working Artist gong by the Association of Independent Music for his work on Thankful Villages Volume 1.
He will be performing at Daylight Music at Islington’s Union Chapel on 10 November (12-2pm) and will present a collection of stories from all three volumes of his Thankful Villages project on the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.