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Tim Laycock is an acknowledged expert on the folk traditions and oral culture of Dorset. As a creative artist, he has spent many years collecting legends, yarns and songs, and exploring the rich folk life of the area. He loves to share and pass on Dorset stories to the next generation.

Tim grew up in Fontmell Magna and went to school in Shaftesbury. Later on he came to live in the town for several years, and the Blackmore Vale has always been a great source of musical and literary inspiration, especially the dialect poetry of William Barnes. Tim’s one-man play ‘The Year Clock,’ about the life of the Dorset poet,  has received more than 70 performances in Dorset and beyond: his recordings of dialect speakers from the Shaftesbury area have featured on Radio 3 and on Desert Island Discs.

Tim has worked for many years as an actor and folk musician. He has a particular interest in community theatre, and has written and directed six community plays in Dorset and Devon. He was musical director for the Shaftesbury Community Play ‘On the Green Rock’ in 2000, and also for ‘A Time to Keep’ and Drummer Hodge’ in Dorchester.

Tim is currently the Artistic Director of the New Hardy Players in Dorchester. Recent productions have included The Mayor of Casterbridge, The Trumpet Major, Under the Greenwood Tree and the Woodlanders.

Tim will be telling and singing a selection of wonderful and curious folk tales from his story collections in Shaftesbury Library.


  • Dorset Folk Tales [The History press] 2012.

  • Dorset Folk Tales for Children [The History press] 2018

  • Benjamin’s Book [Self-published]. A facsimile of the music book of Benjamin Rose of Belchalwell, North Dorset, containing 135 country dance tunes and notes about the music.

  • The Year Clock. WildGoose records. A double CD of the dialect poetry of William Barnes performed by readers from the Blackmore Vale, with some poems set to music and sung by Tim.

  • Sea Strands. WildGoose Records. Traditional Dorset folksongs from the Hammond manuscripts, local dance tunes and new Dorset-inspired compositions. The recording features Colin Thompson [ fiddle], robin Jeffrey [guitar and banjo] and Gabriel Laycock [12- string guitar].

  • Any Little Old Song Will Do. [Self-published] Folksongs, poems and Dorset dance tunes recorded live in Hardy’s Cottage in Higher Bockhampton with Colin and Ruth Thompson [fiddles].

Supported by Shaftesbury Library

Hear Tim's interview with This Is Alfred

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