Stantonbury Village was written for the 1982 community musical documentary play The Jovial Priest, about life at the turn of the 20th century in New Bradwell - which was known locally as Stantonbury until the 1930s. The play celebrated the life and times of the community’s most eccentric cleric, the Reverend Allen Newman ‘Joey’ Guest: he served his parish from 1908 to 1946 during which time he alienated his congregation, caused his choir to go on strike and waged open verbal warfare with competing church leaders!
Joey Guest used to say terrible things to all these here chapel people as they were going to church Sunday when he were going on his bike. He used to call Albert Brown, a Baptist chap, he used to call after him terrible!
(Harry Blunt, LAMK 1981)
I always remember seeing him coming down Canal Hill on his bike with his feet in the air. He’d turn around and come in the High Street and the Salvation Army always used to have a service Sunday evening... They used to play and sing, in between where the barber and Muscutt’s shop is, before they went to service. Well if they was there, Joey Guest would come in on his bike and actually go straight through them! They had to slip out the way sharp. He didn’t like their Salvation Army.
(Mr Baldwin, LAMK 1982)
The song is a snapshot of local life set at the start of Joey Guest’s tenure – 1908 – in what is perceived as a golden age prior to the upheaval of the Great War.
Images and primary source material from LAMK archive
The song is featured on the Living Archive Band’s album All That’s Changed Vol 1 (LAMK)