Christmas music by The York Waits at King’s Lynn concert

The York Waits band
The York Waits band
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Lynn’s oldest church will feature some of England’s oldest and most magical Christmas music in a special concert next week.

The concert at All Saints’ Church on Saturday, December 10 (3.30pm), will feature a group named The York Waits and a key member is Lynn-born Lizzie Gutteridge, whose passion for ancient music means she has mastered a huge number of wind and stringed instruments from past centuries.

Lizzie Gutteridge

Lizzie Gutteridge

The latest addition to her collection is the biggest yet – a bass shawm, standing six feet tall; it would have been one of the deepest and largest instruments known to people in renaissance Europe.

Lizzie is now recognised as one of the country’s busiest specialists in the instruments played by minstrels in medieval and Tudor times. She also plays higher members of the shawm family – loud reed instruments that were the mainstay of the waits bands that were once employed by wealthy municipalities in the country such as King’s Lynn.

A trained violinist, Lizzie also plays the early form of the fiddle, plus recorders, medieval bagpipes, an early type of clarinet known as the chalumeau, and a bizarre instrument known as the rommelpot, which produces a rhythmic grunting noise!

All these instruments and more, including the early form of the trombone, known as the sackbut, will be featured by Lizzie and her four fellow members of The York Waits at All Saints’ Church when they perform a programme titled Godday My Lord Sire Christemas – the title of a 15th century carol. The church itself is noted for its fine acoustics and is known as the “hidden pearl” of Lynn, located in a corner of Hillington Square.

The York Waits are a long-established band of early music specialists who have played throughout the UK and overseas, and made a succession of recordings, including several that feature ancient Christmas music.

The group’s most recent TV appearance was an encounter with Noddy Holder, out of Slade, for a special edition of Songs of Praise!

The instrumentalists of the group are joined by the singer Deborah Catterall, who features on many of the band’s recordings.

The Lynn concert will feature English carols of the 1400s, plus music for the festive season from the time of Shakespeare and later.

Tickets for Godday My Lord Sire Christmas are £12 (or £10 concessions), available in advance via

Lizzie attended Springwood High School, in Lynn, and was leader of the West Norfolk Youth Orchestra before going on to music studies at Durham University.

Her specialism in early musical instruments has led her to perform with several groups, including Blondel and the Colchester Waits (which she directs). She has also performed at prestigious venues such as the Globe Theatre in London and Hampton Court.

Lizzie has been inspired by her father, Chris, who formed King’s Lynn Waites – a revival of the renaissance town shawm band – back in 1999 with the help of the then Borough Mayor, historian Dr Paul Richards.