THE QUEEN'S HEAD
My interest for family history was sparked when I discovered that my great-grandmother ran the village pub in Whelford, The Queen's Head. Stories such as stealing beer from carts fallen in the muddy canal feeder outside, and Conny Mundy playing tunes on the piano after a pint was thrown in the back to make it sound, fuelled my imagination and helped me build a detailed image of life in the pub. I marvelled at this idyllic previous life, however family elders seemed reluctant to share some of their memories about the pub, leading me to think that life in the Queen's Head was somewhat more difficult than I thought. Since the composition of the song, my family have gone on to create a floor plan of the pub, showing the bar, the Griffin's living quarter and even 'the dungeon' where you might get thrown into for being mischievous! In 1953 The Queen's Head was demolished in order to make way for an extension to the runway on the neighbouring airfield. Below shows a map of the land from the 1940's and present day.
Inspiration for this song came on a long journey home where the first line just sprung into my mind. I then worked with Emma Hetherington to create the harmonies of the a cappella introduction and ending. I knew the song should feature piano heavily, in memory of Conny Mundy and the old battered pub piano.
My father told me, of a time before his birth,
The land you see was our to be, and the inn that stood upon the earth.
For to the Queen's Head tonight we'll go, we'll drink and we'll be merry,
The women will come and call for us, and daylight turns to dusk,
When daylight turns to dusk.
The air was as thick as smoke, with old Conny Mundy's song,
With ten keys gone but a pint in the back, oh how that man would play.
For the men it was their local, for her children it was their life,
Sat on the bar with a tankard of milk, and raised by well worn hands.
But with war around the bend, your land to us you'll lend,
To make men fly your inn must die and the tales you leave behind.
Would I have been a bar maid, would I have been the same,
Would I have played piano like Conny Mundy in the day.