First time in 250 years: Blind Jack's fiddle is played in Knaresborough

Tadeusz  Rytwinski from Hertfordshire, who restored John Metcalfs fiddle, pictured with the historic instrument  outside Blind Jacks pub in Knaresborough.
Tadeusz Rytwinski from Hertfordshire, who restored John Metcalfs fiddle, pictured with the historic instrument outside Blind Jacks pub in Knaresborough.

The last time it was played in Knaresborough was probably when Blind Jack himself played it 250 years ago.

But musical notes from this local legend’s historic fiddle finally rung out again in his home town at the weekend courtesy of the man who restored this precious instrument.

Tadeusz Rytwinski travelled all the way from Hertfordshire play the fiddle in the house of the chairman of the Blind Jack Committee in front of an assembled group of John Metcalf enthusiasts.

This significant event in the 300th anniversary of this famous road builder, adventurer and musician’s birth would not have happened had not Catherine Oades, one of Blind ‘John Metcalf’ Jack’s descendants, not looked after the fiddle as a family heirloom.

Both Catherine and her husband Charles made the journey up from with the fiddle for the weekend’s celebrations.

Blind Jack Committee chairman Bernard Higgins said: “When the original, fully restored, fiddle was returned to Knaresborough at the weekend by Catherine and Charles the circle was complete. It was a very nostalgic evening on Saturday.

“Those of us who saw, held and heard the fiddle being played by Tad were privileged to have been there. It was a delight for everyone.

“Catherine, nee Metcalf, is the sixth generation in John Metcalf’s family and we owe her and Charles and their family a huge debt of gratitude in making this 300th anniversary even more special.”

It is hoped the fiddle will now be played as part of the John Metcalf - A Man of Vision concert at St John’s Church in Knaresborough on Saturday, August 12.