A life in song that began here in Louth

CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO THE LOUTH COMPANION HOME PAGE BORN in London in 1830, Charlotte Alington Barnard (nee Pye) was the only daughter of successful solicitor, and later Louth mayor and county treasurer, Henry Pye.

Charlotte spent her formative years at her father's luxurious dream house The Cedars, in Louth's St Mary's Lane.

Following a vocal and entertainment night at the town's Mansion House in Upgate, a ten-year-old Charlotte was inspired to learn the harp and later the piano.

It was this idyllic childhood and many a stroll by the pretty River Lud which Charlotte drew upon to help shape her music.

She quickly gathered a following around Louth, and the young musician was asked to lay the foundation stone of the town's railway station in 1847.

Four years later Charlotte married Charles Cary Barnard, son of the rector of Bigby, and lived in The Firs in Westgate.

The couple moved to Eccleston Square in London, 1857.

It was there Charlotte started her career proper of writing ballads, beginning with a song based on Tennyson's poem The Brook.

Over the next ten years, under the pseudonym Claribel, she wrote and composed well over 100 poems, songs, ballads, and musical pieces, most of them published by Boosey and Son.

She rapidly became the number one ballad composer of the day and signed a 300 a year contract with Boosey and Son for future songs.

It was at this time Charlotte met such lumineries as Alfred Lord Tennyson, Charles Dickens, and renowned poetess Jean Ingelow.

But despite the exciting cut and thrust of city life, Charlotte would often return to Lincolnshire.

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It was on a brief trip back to the county in 1862 when Charlotte wrote 20 Spring Songs and sang some of her own compositions at a concert held to clear the debt on the new east window of Louth's St James' Church.

A stained glass window in her memory now stands at the west end of the church.

The Barnards later moved back to Lincolnshire and Charlotte continued to write ballads at Kirmington rectory.

But in 1868, Charlotte's world was shattered when her much respected father was found to be systematically stealing from money left in his care and trust.

For years he lived on borrowed cash, which culminated in him stealing a large sum of money from a safe in Gospelgate, to ward off creditors.

Charlotte later sailed with her father to Belgium where she wrote what were to be her last poems.

She returned to England in 1869, but died after just two weeks near Dover, aged 38.

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