A group of musicians are gathering to play uniquely shaped instruments from the sixteenth century at concerts in Dorset.

The London Serpent Trio will be performing at the Shire Hall Museum on High West Street in Dorchester on Friday, May 24 at 7.30pm.  

Dorset Echo: The serpent is a wooden instrument invented in 1590 by a French monk who required an instrument to help accompany chanting male voices in churches.

Scaling up the dimensions of the Cornetto, the serpent- named for its similarity to the appearance of a snake- has six finger holes and is traditionally covered in leather. It also has a crook or bocal to which is attached a cup shaped mouthpiece not dissimilar to what would be used on a modern day trombone.

Falling out of favour with performers for the tuba, the serpents use was revived in the mid-twentieth century by Christopher Monk, a musician, historian and early brass instrument maker.

Since Monk’s death in 1991, there has been a band of enthusiastic players who meet once every two years and, after gatherings in South Carolina USA, Gloucester, Lacock, Cape Cornwall, Oxford and Edinburgh, the Serpentarium as it is now known will come to Dorset for the second time.

This year it has attracted players from America, Germany, Scotland and England.

The Serpentarium will be performing a free concert at St Michael’s Church on Church Lane in Stinsford on Monday, May 27 between 2pm to 3pm. Donations towards the churches upkeep can be made. 

Tickets for the Shire Hall performance are £10 and can be purchased on the website or telephone 01305 261849. Doors open at 6.45pm with refreshments available from the bar.