Patten, Robert


Published in DA News Spring 2018.


Bob Patten, along with his wife Jacqueline, was a member of the DA Music Section committee. Bob’s interest in the folk music of the South West of England began in his twenties, when he travelled to local pubs and folk clubs listening to and recording songs. Bob’s interest was shared by his wife Jackie, and together they documented not just songs, but also people’s memories, stories and traditions

Over the years the couple created an extensive collection which included original recordings collected from people who had not been recorded by any other West Country collector. Copies of many of the sound recordings are held by the British Library in The Bob & Jacqueline Patten English Folk Music Collection (British Library reference C1033).

In addition to the collection at the British Library, there is a wonderful collection of dance sheet music, original music manuscripts, five hundred audiotapes of traditional songs, music, and customs and around 100 photographs, 1,500 slides and videotapes. Bob and Jacqueline have made provision for the full Patten archive to be left to the South West Heritage Trust and some of the material will go to the Taunton office within the foreseeable future.

As well as his love of folk music and customs, Bob was an enthusiast for varieties of old English apple, creating a heritage orchard in a field at Redhill near his home in Morchard Bishop.

At Bob’s funeral in October 2018, the celebrant Alison Orchard noted that ‘Bob’s sharp intellect, his enthusiasm for gaining knowledge and his fascination – with so many things – was inspirational and, unfailingly meticulous and careful. Anything Bob did, was done well; he set high standards for himself and was a natural archivist and custodian’.

Bridget Gillard